Thursday, April 20, 2006

STO and DirecTV - A Note from a Cow

OMW received a note from the man known online as the Resident Bovine behind the sports radio website/webcast "Moohead Radio". He took exception to the impression our earlier item about DirecTV and SportsTime Ohio left in regards to the fan interest in the outer (out of Cleveland/Columbus immediate metro) zones.

We're reprinting his letter in full here, and will have a comment or two below:

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Please print this on your blog. I think it presents a clear picture of what has happened. Your article tends to imply something that isn't so:

Who do you call when DTV has NO published corporate phone numbers? They have intentionally severed themselves from their customer base, dissipating subscriber resentment through their intentionally inefficient CSR's. You are incorrect. DTV has insulated itself and turned a deaf ear to ALL dissatisfied customers. Could you imagine getting a chicken sandwich after ordering a burger at a drive thru, and being forced to settle the issue with a minimum wage person 2000 miles away?

The petition was a fast way to collect names. DTV's policy to prevent people such as myself to reach the corporate offices, left fans no reasonable choice. And, of course, DTV claims there was little interest. For God's sake..if nobody can reach them by phone (and I personally KNOW that Erin Ryan bounced e-mails BACK UNREAD from disgruntled viewers), then how does a fan proceed?

DTV is disingenuous. Please do NOT imply that the fan effort was insufficient. DTV simply refused to listen. It is funny that a company runs an ad campaign that says "talk to a person" when they refuse to publish corporate phone numbers. The "person" you talk to is a dweeb. A diversion. Placed there to stroke the customer.

I am proud of the petition effort, in light of limited time and resources. I would suggest cancellation of DTV if blackouts persist. They deserve no explanation at all

Mr Moohead
Resident Bovine

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Thanks, Moohead. Now, a comment or two:

The "surprisingly little response" line is out of DirecTV itself, as that's what they told STO's Jim Liberatore. We've corrected one part of our wording that made it sound like we pretty much agreed with it, which we don't.

You bring up some very, very valid points. Anyone who got the Line of BS from DirecTV that first weekend where most of greater Cleveland was blacked out from the STO Indians games knows what you say has a lot of merit. How can CSRs who can't even accurately tell fans why they aren't getting games, correctly deliver fan response to the corporate level? It sounds to us like they can barely tie their shoes without falling over, at times.

As we told you earlier today, we probably agree on this much more than we disagree. Our point about online petitions was basically that they don't really mean much to a large, multibillion dollar corporate entity like DirecTV.

What does mean something? You hit it at the end of your letter - cancellations. It would appear that the only way DirecTV would change its stance regarding the "outer market" Indians/STO blackout is if they see large numbers of customers going away in those areas, with a specific notation that the STO situation is why they cancelled.

One note - DirecTV HAS listened to an outcry before. When a number of hobbyists learned that the service was going to charge a large amount extra for HDTV broadcasts of its NFL Sunday Ticket, they mobilized and got DirecTV to eventually waive that amount for those who called in individually, usually with their own threat of cancelling the service. They didn't get DirecTV to completely remove the "SuperFan" HDTV surcharge, though...and that's probably similar to what outer market Indians fans are up against.

UPDATE: 8:50 PM 4/20/06 - Here's a response by Patrick Kreiser, the petition's author... which originally appeared in the comments section of this item:

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Hi All:

I would like to offer a few additional comments on this matter. After submitting the petition to DirecTV yesterday (with 560+ signatures), I received an automated response from DirecTV indicating that they did not have the necessary resources to cover the entire Cleveland market (the EXACT same e-mail message from DirecTV customer support that I have seen posted on several different Indians forums). So at the moment, DirecTV is refusing to acknowledge the fact that well over 500 people have signed a petition asking them to pick up STO in ALL areas of the Indians market.

However, all hope is not lost. The head of the OMW Blog mentioned that customer cancellations will play an important role in this process. I very much agree with this point (and I urge you, should you decide to cancel your subscription to DirecTV, to tell them WHY you canceled). However, there is one additional avenue that may still get DirecTV to listen. That avenue is to convince numerous media outlets to pick up the story and expose the situation for what it is. The Akron Beacon-Journal and the Dunkirk (New York) Observer have already mentioned the petition in their papers (and why the petition exists). The Buffalo News will publish the web link to the petition tomorrow (Friday) and a full article on the issue next week. The Athens Messenger will be publishing a full article within the next couple days. I have personally talked to over 20 other media outlets that are considering running this story. I truly believe that once 3-4 area newspapers pick up the story, others will follow. If we can get 10+ papers to publish the story, then DirecTV will start to listen. I PROMISE to all of you that I will not give up this crusade. This no longer an issue that revolves solely around Indians games, it is also about 150,000 DirecTV customers who are being consistently ignored. The company is taking us for granted and they assume that we will not take our business elsewhere. Time will tell whether this was a sound 'business' decision on their part.

In the meantime, please keep up the fight. I know that it is not easy to take on a large corporate entity, but as the OMW Blog mentioned, it has been done successfully in the past. What I would encourage each of you to do is:

1) Sign the petition
2) Call DirecTV to tell them you would like for them to pick up the Indians games in ALL areas (all calls to DirecTV are, or at least should be, logged)
3) If it is important enough to you, tell DirecTV that you would 'consider' switching to a different service provider
4) If you do decide to switch to another service provider, then tell DirecTV WHY you switched (it will not do any good if they don't know the reason that you are taking your business elsewhere)
5) Contact your local newspaper(s), television station(s), and radio station(s) to ask them to pick up this story. Tell them that as a local customer/viewer, this issue is important to you.

As a business professor and someone who has interacted with a large number of businesses, I can tell you that DirecTV WILL listen to us if they think it is in their 'economic' best interests to do so. Therefore, it is now up to us to convince them that there are a large number of customers upset about this issue, and that many of us would consider taking there business elsewhere if DirecTV does not rectify this situation.

I apologize for the length of this message. But please keep fighting and don’t get discouraged. This is not over by a long shot. Pride in our sports teams (and in each other) is what makes us Cleveland fans in the first place.

Patrick Kreiser

2 comments:

Al said...

Here is the note I sent to Erin Ryan at Directv.... it will probably be bounced again...

I read with great disgust that you have chosen not to listen to the fans in northwest Ohio due to "...lack of significant interest..." It is interesting that one of your one personnel told me that over 3000 e-mails were sent to Directv over this fiasco. If one fan equals 1000 subscribers (the industry estimation) then you are slighting over 30,000 customers... let's do the math... 30,000 time $100 per month... can you figure that out???

It is time for you to come out of the corportate castle and listen to the little guy that you are slighting.

I for one will be switching to another outlet for my programming in the very near future!

For those of you that wish to send a personal note to Erin Ryan at the corporate castle the address is:

eryan@directv.com

Be aware that your message may get returned unread.... been there and done that already!

Patrick Kreiser said...

Hi All:

I would like to offer a few additional comments on this matter. After submitting the petition to DirecTV yesterday (with 560+ signatures), I received an automated response from DirecTV indicating that they did not have the necessary resources to cover the entire Cleveland market (the EXACT same e-mail message from DirecTV customer support that I have seen posted on several different Indians forums). So at the moment, DirecTV is refusing to acknowledge the fact that well over 500 people have signed a petition asking them to pick up STO in ALL areas of the Indians market.

However, all hope is not lost. The head of the OMW Blog mentioned that customer cancellations will play an important role in this process. I very much agree with this point (and I urge you, should you decide to cancel your subscription to DirecTV, to tell them WHY you canceled). However, there is one additional avenue that may still get DirecTV to listen. That avenue is to convince numerous media outlets to pick up the story and expose the situation for what it is. The Akron Beacon-Journal and the Dunkirk (New York) Observer have already mentioned the petition in their papers (and why the petition exists). The Buffalo News will publish the web link to the petition tomorrow (Friday) and a full article on the issue next week. The Athens Messenger will be publishing a full article within the next couple days. I have personally talked to over 20 other media outlets that are considering running this story. I truly believe that once 3-4 area newspapers pick up the story, others will follow. If we can get 10+ papers to publish the story, then DirecTV will start to listen. I PROMISE to all of you that I will not give up this crusade. This no longer an issue that revolves solely around Indians games, it is also about 150,000 DirecTV customers who are being consistently ignored. The company is taking us for granted and they assume that we will not take our business elsewhere. Time will tell whether this was a sound 'business' decision on their part.

In the meantime, please keep up the fight. I know that it is not easy to take on a large corporate entity, but as the OMW Blog mentioned, it has been done successfully in the past. What I would encourage each of you to do is:

1) Sign the petition
2) Call DirecTV to tell them you would like for them to pick up the Indians games in ALL areas (all calls to DirecTV are, or at least should be, logged)
3) If it is important enough to you, tell DirecTV that you would 'consider' switching to a different service provider
4) If you do decide to switch to another service provider, then tell DirecTV WHY you switched (it will not do any good if they don't know the reason that you are taking your business elsewhere)
5) Contact your local newspaper(s), television station(s), and radio station(s) to ask them to pick up this story. Tell them that as a local customer/viewer, this issue is important to you.

As a business professor and someone who has interacted with a large number of businesses, I can tell you that DirecTV WILL listen to us if they think it is in their 'economic' best interests to do so. Therefore, it is now up to us to convince them that there are a large number of customers upset about this issue, and that many of us would consider taking there business elsewhere if DirecTV does not rectify this situation.

I apologize for the length of this message. But please keep fighting and don’t get discouraged. This is not over by a long shot. Pride in our sports teams (and in each other) is what makes us Cleveland fans in the first place.

Patrick Kreiser