When it comes to TV or mobile phone service, consumers aren’t shy about saying what they don’t like. That’s not only true here on this blog, which made me refocus the content to cover TV and mobile heavily last year, but to the local Better Business Bureau.
The Better Business Bureau of the Southland reports that mobile phone service and TV service were the two categories with the most complaints last year (see bottom chart). But by far the top offender? DirecTV, based in El Segundo. The satellite TV service received 15,367 complaints, well above second place Federal Loan Modification Center in Northridge, which had 858 complaints.
The BBB said that DirecTV issues are related to billing disputes, early cancellation fees, inadequate disclosure about the cost of service and the inability to contact the company.
|Southland BBB’s 10 companies with most complaints|
The organization — the go-to site for Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino Counties,– also pointed out that DirecTV has faced government scrutiny for violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule and the Washington state Consumer Protection Act for “false or unfair use of the word “free,” among other issues.
The BBB named DirecTV its top 2009 Pluto Award recipient, which calls out the area Orange County and Los Angeles businesses that use “underhanded business practices and ambiguous advertising to augment their riches and defraud the American public of billions of dollars each year.”
“DirecTV is a well-known satellite service provider, and its number of complaints might not be quite so striking if you took its complaints-to-customers ratio into consideration. Nevertheless, its practices and rating prompt us to urge extreme caution in doing business with DirecTV,” warned the BBB.
DirecTV spokesperson Jade-lin Ekstedt acknowledged the issue and said that the company is working on improving the poor rating.
“The overwhelming majority of our more than 18.4 million customers are happy with our service. But, as with any other company that deals with such a large number of customers, we don’t always get it right every time. We appreciate the need to address customer complaints effectively and timely and we are working with the southern California BBB to help us do a better job at that. Providing excellent customer service is something we have always prided ourselves on so we are redoubling our efforts to identify and act on opportunities for improvement. Through this effort we hope to see our rating improved in the near future,” she said in an e-mail response.
Regardless of the low rating, DirecTV still remains the nation’s largest paid-TV service with its 18.4 million customers. And the company continues to grow, according to its last earnings report. Customers may be complaining but they continue to stick with the company.
Tell me: Any DirecTV customers getting better results with customer service and other issues? Leave a comment (thanks!)
As a reader courtesy, here are the customer service numbers for the various TV services available in Orange County:
And here’s a look at the industries garnering the most consumer complaints last year. According to the BBB, the cell phone and TV industries received more complaints then banks and auto dealers. One bright spot? The number of complaints for cell phone and TV service didn’t grow as fast as banks. Cell phone complaints were up 2.1 percent over 2008, while TV was up 8.7 percent. The number of complaints received by the banking industry was up 42.3 percent.
The BBB also points out that both industries did have high resolution rates. Cell phone companies resolved 97.4 percent of complaints while the cable and satellite TV industry resolved 97.2 percent. Banks resolved 95.2 percent. To file your own complaint with a company, go to the BBB’s local website at www.la.bbb.org. Here’s a shortcut to the complaint page.
Top 10 industries by volume of consumer complaints with BBB in 2009 Industry Total Complaints Rank by complaints % change over 2008 % of Resolved Complaints Cellular Phones Service & Equipment 37,477 1 2.10% 97.40% Television – Cable, CATV & Satellite 32,616 2 8.70% 97.20% Banks 29,920 3 42.30% 95.20% Auto Dealers-New Cars 26,888 4 -2.40% 84.10% Internet Shopping 21,494 5 9.40% 71.70% Collection Agencies 15,797 6 -3.30% 86.60% Auto Dealers – Used Cars 13,686 7 2.50% 70.80% Telephone Companies 13,470 8 11.20% 96.10% Furniture – Retail 13,158 9 -2.90% 78.30% Auto Repair & Service 12,736 10 9.50% 65.90%
For more on TV services, see the following links:
|* Time Warner Cable
* Cox Cable
* Verizon FiOS
* AT&T U-verse
* Dish Network
* Web TV
* All TV
More Better Business Bureau-related stories: