A Tale of Two Satellite Companies

DirecTV vs. Dish Network. Well, a week or so ago we decided to switch providers from Dish Network to DirecTV. I have been a previous subscriber of DirecTV in the past, but when we went upgraded to HD back in 2007, we went with Dish Network. We wanted to stay with DirecTV, but they wanted $300 to upgrade our system to high definition. Dish Network was offering HD for no upfront cost with free installation, plus they had the Voom HD channels that I really wanted. Before canceling our service with DirecTV, we called them several times to see if they could give us a deal on HD service to keep our business. We were assured they could not, so we left. Of course, literally 2 days after we cancelled, we received a phone call from one of their reps offering everything for free to match Dish. After we left DirecTV we got a bill from them for over $300. I immediately called to see what the problem was. They informed me that we did not return a receiver and we had an early cancellation fee. Well, they never sent a box for the receiver and we were out of contract. Or so I thought. You see, we pay this nifty little $5 fee a month for their equipment protection plan so they will send us a new unit if one fails. However, not only do you pay this “insurance” but if you take advantage of this, they will extend your contract for you. I was never told about this, and so we had another year on our contract even though the CSR told us it was over. I was furious. I told them I wouldn’t pay it until they could prove to me that I agreed to my service extension, which I did not. So about a month goes by and I wake up one morning to discover that DirecTV had deducted $300 from my account without my permission. I vowed to never use DirecTV again.

One of the things I really liked about Dish Network was that I could get an all HD package. We really didn’t watch anything other than HD, so it seemed to be the logical choice. Sometime last year Dish Network announced their Turbo HD programming, which was pretty much the same as what we were getting, but cost more money. I called Dish Network to see if I needed to upgrade to this new package and was told that I did not because that package was being grandfathered in. Great. I also asked if we would receive all the new HD channels when they were released. I was assured we would. Great. Well, that is not the case. We did not receive Fox News in HD when it was released. Dish got a phone call from me. I was told that indeed my programming stopped receiving channel additions and I would have to upgrade to Turbo HD at an additional cost. Okay. What other channels would they be adding? They could not tell me of course. Well, that was enough for me. I was tired of their lackluster support, crappy equipment, and subpar picture quality so I bit the bullet and went back to DirecTV.


You might be wondering why I would do that after they had made me so mad. Well, I treat satellite as a commodity. I am not loyal to either one and will get the best deal I can. DirecTV was better this time for several reasons. One of the things I wanted that I thought I would never, ever want is NFL Sunday ticket. I am a Buffalo Bills fan and living in Texas, you can imagine that I don’t get to see a lot of Bills games. I have also never been into football. That changed when I played fantasy football this year for the first time. I became a fan of football. I intend on playing again next year, so I need to be able to watch my players. DirecTV is the only provide with NFL Sunday Ticket so that was a plus. Another thing that really swayed me was their extensive selection of On-Demand programming. I hear cable subscribers touting On-Demand programming and I must admit that I was jealous. Well DirecTV has a great library of On-Demand channels such as Showtime, The Movie Channel, Starz, The Food Network, HGTV, MTV, and others. Dish Network just cannot compete here. They don’t yet have HBO On-Demand, but I hope they will add that soon. The price difference is also negligible so I decided to let bygones be bygones and subscribe to DirecTV.

One of the things I first noticed is that the picture quality is so much better with DirecTV than Dish Network. I really could not believe the difference. I was overjoyed. Of course DirecTV also has more HD channels than Dish, so that was nice. I have downloaded a ton of On-Demand programming and am thoroughly enjoying that. One of the things I really find helpful is that with their DVR, I can play through a list of recorded shows without stopping. I have a three year old who loves Handy Manny. I can now set the DVR to play through all the Handy Manny episodes and he can watch them while he is playing and I don’t have to get up every thirty minutes to play a new episode. It’s the small things in life that make a difference.

It should be obvious which company I recommend. I would seriously be hard pressed to recommend Dish Network over DirecTV. The experience has been so much better these past few weeks. We don’t watch a lot of tv, but what we do watch has been great. The On-Demand has been excellent, as has the picture quality. I am really pleased that things have gone so smoothly. I can’t wait for football season now that I have my NFL Sunday Ticket.