Thursday, August 6, 2009


Out here in the sticks, we have few choices for internet and television. I've gotten used to paying a lot of money every month to DirecTV for satellite tv and Embarq (the local phone provider) for a landline I don't use except for internet access. Lately, I've wondered if a better deal might be out there somewhere.

First, I researched the different packages on DirecTV to see if I really need all the channels I pay for. While I was doing that, I noticed a sidebar blurb about bundling satellite and internet. So I called their customer service. The two things I like best about DirecTV—and these are key to this saga—is that the few times I've had to call customer service, the people there are really nice and their installer took a lot of care to site my dish so it can't be seen from the street. (You can see it in the photos of the east side of my house from a couple posts ago.) I really wanted to stay with DirecTV, but not at the current price. "Yes," I was told, "you can bundle satellite and internet, and we partner with Embarq in your area." They explained that I would have to call Embarq to set up the bundling price.

And that's where the trouble started. "We don't partner with DirecTV," the guy at Embarq said. He was one of those salespeople who talks a mile a minute about the great deals that his company offers and won't let you get a word in edgewise. That irritates me. I pointed out that DirecTV's customer service people said they do partner with Embarq. He said they do not, and tried to sell me a package with DishTV instead. I declined.

Then I went on DishTV's website and saw that it's essentially the same thing I have now, just loads cheaper if I bundle with the phone company. Like sixty bucks a month cheaper. So I called Embarq back and set it all up. Hey, I can be bought.

But then White Trash Bob told me that he bundles cable tv and internet at his house, has had it for nine years with nary an issue, and it's tons cheaper even than DishTV and Embarq. So I called the cable company and discovered that Bob's right. It's less than half what I'm paying now. Wow. I'd have fewer channels (65 vs. 200) and a bit slower internet, though. So I pondered. In the meantime, another friend called complaining about the poor quality of cable tv in our area. Hmm. I phone-polled my friends to see what they have and how they like it. In the end, I decided to go with DishTV and Embarq and made an installation appointment (through Embarq, mind you) for DishTV. The installer was supposed to be at my house between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m.

But noooooo...this morning at 8 a.m. my phone rang. I didn't recognize the number so I didn't answer. Whoever it was didn't leave a voicemail. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep. Ten minutes later the phone rang again. Same number. Same response from me. Then again. And again. Finally, the sixth time the phone rang within 35 minutes, I snarled, "What?!" into the phone at the same time I heard pounding on the front door. It was the DishTV guy, on the phone and at the door. So I went outside with him, in my jammies, to show him the current location of the dish. He climbed up Floyd's ladder, looked through some binocular-looking thing, and declared, "Nope. It's not gonna work. No line of sight." What?! "No way it's gonna work," he said. "Guess your best bet's to stay with DirecTV." What great customer service. What a salesman he is, right?! He then suggested that I might be able to site my dish on Floyd and Gwen's house. Uh, I don't think so. They like me and all, but even my sleep-hazed brain could conceive of a few issues with that arrangement. So he left, ten minutes after his arrival.

In a snit, I called Embarq back to tell them of this little snag in my plans. My call went to the salesperson's voicemail. I called DirecTV again and told them I didn't mean it when I said I was leaving, and by the way, do they partner with Embarq to bundle internet and tv? "Yes," they said. I pressed them. Are you positive, because Embarq says otherwise? Are you absolutely certain? Would you bet your next paycheck on it?? Yes, yes, and yes. I called Embarq again. Voicemail again. I left a message explaining the problem with DishTV, informed them that DirecTV does indeed partner with them, and could I please have the DishTV bundling deal with DirecTV instead? Some 16 hours later, I still haven't received a call back from Embarq. Grrrr.

So, a day later I've wasted several hours in research and setting up new service, only to be right back where I started. This morning when Embarq's customer service center opens I will do battle again with them in an effort to discover their rock-bottom DirecTV/Embarq bundling price and see how it compares to the cable company's deal. Oh yeah, and now one of my DirecTV receivers has stopped working. Grrrrr.


  1. I'm a little confused, Dish and Direct are both satellite based, yes? How can your current dish be okay but a new one not, is that because the satellites are on different paths or something?

    I got rid of my tv some months ago and now just watch stuff on the web or via netflix.

    Netflix turn around time is somewhat astonishing, the cds seem to get back to them in a day, there's a day for turnaround until they ship the next one out and that arrives a day later. They also have lots of old stuff I like, like BBC serials and 50s grade B science fiction movies. collects together pointers to current and old tv shows video on the web (I keep expecting to see something that says this is illegal, but so far I haven't.)

    The only apparent flaw in my setup is that Netflix instant viewing tends to stutter a bit. I'm not sure why. I supposedly have enough resources on my pc to support it.

    The Netflix plan I have costs $8.99 a month and gives me unlimited but one at a time DVDs and unlimited instant watching.

    I think my cable bill (Cox) for Internet access is about $40.

    I still have a landline as well as my cell phone. I just don't trust the cellphone to not have low batteries or me to not misplace it when I really need it.

  2. I'm in an area with few options. I pay $60 for high speed internet from Verizon. My landline and TV is seperate.

  3. I used to be a telecommunications consultant. Notice I said "used to". I left before I killed someone.

  4. Like Karen Anne, I'm wondering why one dish will work but another won't.

    I keep threatening to ditch cable and bundle it with the phone company. Cable is SO overpriced, always raising rates AND, this is the part I love, their "on demand" service that comes free with my premium channels, doesn't work 80 percent of the time.

    SO feeling your pain. Can't wait to hear what you find out.

  5. I finally dropped the land line after reading my bill and realizing I used the phone 3 times a month at a cost of 46 dollars for their basic service. We called Verizon North and asked for a better deal...nope nothing that was it...take it or leave it. When we said leave it they lowered their price. We said cancel immediately. For months following cancellation we received offers of 19.99 a month for basic service. With what we saved on the land line we upgraded to cable internet and we have never regretted it. As for the cell phone....I just got into the habit of putting it by the bed and keep an additional charger on the night stand.

    I loved not having a land line at election time. No more early morning vote for me calls.

  6. I'm all for bundling but what a mess! I hope there is a special place in a very hot locale for these people!

    As for dropping the land line - depends on the quality & capacity of cell phone service. We found that when everything was knocked out during & after hurricanes that we never lost land line, but cell service was iffy - too many people making calls and not enough capacity and also the cell towers were without power long enough go out (now some of them have emergency generators).

    Haven't had another hurricane here since 2004 (Charley, Frances & Jeanne) so not sure if infrastructure has been improved enough for better cell phone service during an emergency.

    So we haven't dropped our land line and continue to use the DSL for internet (we're like Karen Anne - no TV service & view movie DVDs or Teaching Company DVDs).

    Good luck. And perhaps remind them that you work nights and showing up at 8am for a 1-5pm appointment is just cruel and could be dangerous.


  7. Karen Anne--I'm confused, too, as to how one sat dish can work and another one won't, especially since my neighbors to the NE of me have DishTV and their dish is on their garage, which is shorter than my house! Or, as Floyd said, "Like Dish launches their own rocket up there..." LOL I have Netflix, the same kind of account as you, and LOVE IT. The turnaround time amazes me!

    Dynochick--A friend of my son's got a $400 cell phone for $80 by threatening to go with a different carrier. I think I'll have him call Embarq for me...

    Cheryl--Showing up at 8 a.m. was just about fatal for that guy, especially when he said it wouldn't work.