Saturday, January 29, 2011

DirecTV offer is less than it appears

DirecTV is offering a deal to AAA members of $19.99 a month for the first year, and a $10 discount for eight months of the second year. You have to commit to two years.

I currently have Dish Network service, paying $45.99 for their lowest tier of channels and a DVR. I'm fairly happy with Dish, but heck, $19.99 a month is pretty tempting.

Now I'm not an idiot – though my wife might disagree – I know that the initial rate is just a teaser. So the question was: How much will this REALLY cost?

The DirecTV ad offered enough small print to impress Leo Tolstoy and it was impossible to decipher any of it. So I called DirecTV, um, directly. 

Here's what I found: First, you have to pay $5 extra a month for each additional TV. I have two TVs, so now we're talking $24.99.

But you don't get a DVR at that price. You have to upgrade to the next higher tier, which is $5 more per month, plus $7 for the DVR. So all of sudden the $19.99 deal has ballooned to $36.99. And that's just for the first year.

In the second year, the price jumps to $65.99 per month for eight months, then $75.99 per month from then on. Plus, there's a $19.99 setup fee at the start  So over two years, you'd spend an average of $53.99 a month – well above my current rate.

The customer rep I spoke did offer one slightly cheaper option. You have to sign up for the higher tier to get the DVR, but she said that after a year, I could downgrade to the lower tier and keep the DVR. This would mean that in the second year, I'd pay $53.99 for eight months and then $63.99 after that. This would bring the average monthly price for the first two years to $47.99 – still more than I'm currently paying.  And, of course, after two years, I'd be paying $18 a month more than I do now.

I'm sticking with Dish.


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