Dish Network attempting to mug a 77 year old man! Business at Dish sometimes leaves you wondering if they intentionally add insult to the misery of their customers.
The best time to learn about ridiculous business and customer service practices is either when you have your own headaches with your service providers, or family or friends have issues and are so scarred that they ask you for help in solving problems with a wrong bill or bad service provided. Scarred might not always be the right expression, but desperate while trying to find a solution for an unfair treatment. I just witnessed the absolute worst business practice and customer service performance that I have ever seen, and I am in business for over 30 years. The provider of that sad story, Dish Network! I wouldn’t write about this if it wouldn’t be full of disrespect, negligence and borderline criminal, but this has to be mentioned in public. It also fits into the “customer service” category of my blog and the section on how NOT to do customer service. Maybe it also helps others that had or have problems with that company, and there is quite an unusual number of people. I know it is long, but read on, it is worth it.
Recently, a family member, let’s call him “Pops”, called us and told us about a situation he currently has hovering over his, other than this, peaceful life. Pops is 77 years old and a retired American Airline employee. With that retirement comes a nice benefit, he can travel for free, almost all over the place. He regularly takes advantage of this and, at times, is “in the air” for months. Pops is a customer of Dish Network , for over 2 years. He doesn’t have all the fancy channels, so his monthly bill has never made it far beyond $50.00. When he travels, he “freezes” his account so that his monthly bill doesn’t exceed $5.00.
In 2013, his travel took him to Asia for a lengthy trip. With everything set up as usual, he had no worries. This changed when he came back. His “friendly” TV provider Dish Network, kindly sent him a bill for over $1.000. According to them, during the time he was away, he purchased different entertainment packages and installed three more receivers. All in all, Dish Network claims he added services for well over $1,000.00. Needless to say, when he saw the bill, he thought lightning has hit him. He called customer service and explained his problem. In this first call, the rep wanted to find a solution and stated he would send a technician over. Not really sure why, but hey…. The technician pulled up in Pops drive way and sat in his truck. Pops was watching the guy sitting there and talking on the phone. After a while he turned around and left. Pops watched this and as it happened called customer service. They explained to him that there is something wrong with the address and this case actually belongs to an address in San Antonio. Pops was assured his account will be taken care of and not to worry anymore.
While the monthly cycle was running, Pops went on to travel again. When coming back in January, he finds his Dish Network bill still way over $1,000.00. In fact, nothing has changed, other than the next cycle added to the bill. Calling customer service didn’t bring any solution, but further pain and unrest. The customer service agent told him, “these are your charges and you are responsible for them”. His call was elevated to “Fraud”!
As a company, when you forward something to your fraud department you believe there could be some criminal activity going on, that might hurt your company and your customers. Also, the intention is to further investigate what actually happened and why. Not so with Dish Network! They have a different understanding of what a fraud department has to do. No matter what Pops explained, “Fraud” told him, these are his charges and he is responsible for them. As a sign of “goodwill”, the agent offered to take $200.00 off the bill. What? A fraud department offers rebates? Pops declined the offer.
So, the case went on and so went the cycle. The next customer service call showed two payments on the account were made. Someone paid over $900.00 and another payment over $500.00. Nothing related to Pops account. Pops explained the accounts where these payments were made from are not his accounts and he has no clue who’s accounts these are. What did Dish Network do? Nothing!!!
On Thursday, April 17th, Pops called us. Pretty much out of options and drive to further talk to these people. We promised to help.
When I heard of this, one of my first thoughts was, there is a glitch in the system. There are two accounts messed up and mixed with each other. In any way, we decided to call Dish Network and find out what the problem is. And, I tell you, what happened is the biggest nonsense I have ever seen. After having two calls with them, I tend to believe their business strategy is to intimidate customers to make them pay, whatever non-sense is on the bill.
My girlfriend, an attorney, myself and Pops went on to call. Call one was to explain the entire situation again to a customer service rep. Mike was his name and he seemed friendly and was able to help gather information. After we had done that, we asked to be forwarded to “Fraud”. Mike did and we ended up with Corinne in “Fraud”. After laying out the case again, we were at a point when it was time to ask what the solution could be in this case. Corinne stated there is no solution, the bill has to be paid.
By nature, I have a strong voice and can’t be overheard when I have something to say. I also speak, and write, with a German accent. People used to tell me I would talk like “Arnold”. While that alone might sound rough for some, I am very polite, I address people by their name and I would never use profanity or get personal in any way on a professional level. What happened knocked me off my chair. After everything, fact or not, was on the table, I asked Corinne the following question: “How are you going to solve this problem”? After that, silence and then beep, beep, beep and click! Corinne in the fraud department hung up on us. We were stunned!
So, here we are, sitting in the dark. Hung up on by Dish Network and pretty much been told, “go back into your corner and pay your bill. On whether we do research on cases or not, is our decision. We are never at fault and what is on your bill is right, no matter what”!!
After a short break, we decided to try again. When the customer service rep came on, we explained what just happened and we requested to be transferred to the “fraud” department again. The rep transferred us and we were connected to a different rep. The discussion was pretty much the same, we are trying to explain and the rep didn’t really care, so was my impression. However, what turned up in this call was another stunner. The previous rep in Dish Network’s dubious “fraud” department made false notes on the account! With that on top of the pile, I asked for a transfer to a manager. Guess what, call disconnected! Yep, Dish Network disconnected the call again.
With all that experience and knowledge we were sitting there and couldn’t really believe what just happened. All that leads me to assume here is something going on we actually have seen before. Many years ago we saw some companies trying to take advantage on the IPO insanity of the 90’s. There were credit card companies, serving the secondary market, trying to create enough money and assets to go public. Their business practices and operations are popping up when I try to analyze what Dish Network is doing.
With all the info and facts from day 1 of calling Dish Network, one could assume Dish creates fraudulent charges with the strategy not to give in when customers complain. To cover up their operations, they offer a maximum of 20 -25% rebate on these charges. The rest is the intent to create assets. With having a “fraud department” to transfer complaining customers, Dish Network is intimidating people, especially since the company is using this department more as a collections departments rather than a problem solving, researching and protecting department. Not sure this is the case, but it sure looks like it.
The adventure of dealing with Dish Network is not over yet. Read here what happens on the second day of calling Dish Network to solve Pops’ problem. It even gets worse!
On Friday, April 18th, we decided to call Dish Network one more time. Pops agreed that this should be the last time in trying to convince Dish Network to do some research on the account and reverse the charges.
At around 8:00pm we sat down and dialed Dish’s customer service number. The rep we reached was “Jessie”. We explained to her that we had already called multiple times on this account and wish to speak to a manager. Jessie refused to transfer us to anyone, before an attempt was made to solve the problem with her. So, we went on again. After about 30 minutes of explaining what was explained multiple times before, Jessie transferred us to a so called “account executive”. Her name was “Leza”. The same thing went on again until we were done with her, and I apologize that I express it as casual as I do, we were already almost an hour on the phone. Leza then transferred us to “Fraud”. There, we had the pleasure to speak with “Rita”. She explained to us, Pops is responsible for the charges. I replied like I did before, Pops didn’t order the programs and receivers, nor has he received any receivers. I explained again that it would help if Dish Network would have a look where these receivers actually were delivered to and asked if she can see this on her screen. The answer was, “no, I can’t see that”! The question why she would then claim that the charges were correct remained unanswered. Rita then suggested we should speak to someone in the “executive office”.
I am going to put this conversation in a separate paragraph for the simple reason, it deserves it!
“Denise” popped up on the phone. Denise introduced herself properly and also gave her rep number and phone number with extension. Kudos to that. She also spoke with authority, in sound, I have to add. The content of her speech was, to express it mildly, scandalous! Denise explained that Dish Network would not have to research the account. Because Pops is a “victim of fraud” he would have to file a report with law enforcement and they would research it. Following that statement, I had to shake myself for a second or two and make sure I understood right what I just heard. Denise confirmed the statement and repeated it word for word. I couldn’t help to reveal some of my professional background and “educate” her on how a fraud charge is determined and how it is treated, especially if you ask the victim for over a $1,000.00. Denise’s response, she repeated, again, word for word of her statement. So, Dish Network is the holder of all information, but doesn’t have to research the case and see if the claims are actually correct. That would be, in Dish Network’s opinion, the job of law enforcement.
Imagine every time you find something wrong with any of your bills you wouldn’t have to contact the biller or service provider, but law enforcement. If it wouldn’t be so sad, it is actually a pretty good joke. Talking about smaller government. I am surprised such a statement actually comes out of the “executive office” of Dish Network, a publicly traded company!
Well, needless to say, the conversation didn’t go very far. Denise’s wasn’t willing to add more words to her statement or actually even take a look at the account. I advised her on the action we are planning on taking and thanked her for her time. With that, the call ended after 1 hour and 26 minutes and speaking with 4 different reps. All together, in two days we spoke to 7 reps and got hang up on twice. We were treated like beggars by a publicly traded company that depends on consumers leaving their money with them. We were mislead, fed with false information, the account was noted at least once with false notes and important questions about the account weren’t answered.
We made one last step, following the advise given by Denise in Dish Network’s executive office. Pops went to the next law enforcement office and was told, guess what? To no surprise, Denise’s statement and claim that law enforcement has to research Pops’ case was pulled out of something other than the knowledge box. Just like everything experienced in this case, it is just bad and, in my opinion, at least borderline criminal! Well, let’s call it “fraudulent or negligent” for now.
In order to continue to clean this mess up, clearly created by Dish Network, we now have to put all our ducks in a row and show the paper trail. The next step will be to write to the corporate office of Dish Network, namely to the CEO with the hope that will take on some dynamics and someone have the mercy at the nonsense the company actually is creating. We will also file a complaint with the FCC. In addition, we will contact different government offices in the involved states and since Dish Network is a publicly traded company, we will contact the SEC. It has to be seen if any of this will lead to any response and action on Dish Network’s side. With tens of thousands already complaining for a long time, it almost appears Dish Network’s business practices are well covered.
The story continues. After a few days of collecting the “paper facts”, we now have all the necessary info and paperwork to show what happened on “Pops” account and as the first idea is always the best, there is a second account holder with Dish Network involved. There is a clear mix with another account and we actually have the account info and that info was submitted by Dish Network per our request. Of course nobody at Dish Network took a look at the info that was sent to us. That much about the safety of your data, if you are Dish customer. Oh, while we were researching the facts, Dish Network started collecting on the account and has now already called a few times.
With everything on paper and on the table, Dish Network is pretty much attempting to mug a 77 year old man. Tomorrow I will lay out how it happened and it doesn’t shine a better light on Dish Network.