DirecTV Can Kill You

Being a DirecTV customer can most definitely kill you. This all started with the scam that the standard definition satellite was “about to fall out of the sky.” Continual phone calls and Junk Mail and SPAM demanding we “upgrade” to the HD satellites. Turns out, the satellite was not about to fall out of the sky, they were trying to sell it back to the Chinese or some other not-friendly-to-the-US country. Before they could sell it, they had to get all of the customers off.


Not long after I started working as a computer operator in the early to mid 1980s my brother and I went together to get my parents (our mom really) a satellite dish television service. If memory serves it was one of the satellite companies that used the same small round dish made by Hughes that was used by the company which would one day become DirecTV.

We lived way out in the country. During good clear weather we had five channels:

  • 2 CBS – only came in during perfect weather because they had the cheapest transmitters
  • 5 NBC
  • 7 ABC (WLS – World’s Largest Store SEARS)
  • 9 WGN (Cubs baseball, black and white re-runs, Bozo’s Circus, Bob Luce Wrestling, etc.)
  • 11 WTTW (PBS)

Our antenna was 40-50 feet in the air mounted on well drop pipe with a lot of cable tying it down. During college basketball tournaments we turned it south with a pipe wrench. This allowed mom to watch college basketball on the one snowy channel from Champaign. Otherwise we always had Chicago channels. That is all that came in. Eventually we got a power rotation device for the antenna.

Channel 7 Was Our Go-to Station

It was always the clearest, had the most trust-able news and the weather always covered the northern ten miles of Ford county because we were in their viewing area.

That thin bar is north half of Ford County

Everything from the tip where we lived down to just south of Piper City has, for the north of 50 years I’ve been on this planet, been served by ABC 7 Chicago. We grew up watching Fahey Flynn and the rest of the team.

As the population of Chicago changed, so did the evening news team.

In rural America you live by the weather. On a farm you rely on ABC 7 Doppler Max and the Storm Tracker team to keep you alive.

That station will interrupt anything when severe weather encroaches upon the viewing area.

The DirecTV Screwing – Pt. 1

After relentless hounding, in the middle of harvest last year, I agreed to let them ship an install kit. They yammered about no longer allowing self-installs. I informed them that I had installed every system that had shipped to us and had also installed them for friends. Directed them to the Web site for my award winning technical book series to prove I had spent over 30 years in IT. I made them promise we would keep all our stations when I made the agreement.

Please keep in mind that this is harvest of 2022. My mother is suffering from end-stage heart disease and near end-stage kidney failure. She doesn’t have the energy to do a lot so television is important to her.

The DirecTV Screwing – Pt. 2

They ship the new box to me. I hook it up. You have to activate it to begin the configuration process. When you activate it, they deactivate your standard definition box and physically refuse to re-activate it.

Oh, we’re sorry, that box won’t worth with the old standard definition dish. No, we don’t allow self-installs, you will have to schedule an installation. Closest date we have is two weeks out.


Yep, you now have no television service for at least two weeks. If yo don’t have an old over-the-air television antenna hooked up, you have no idea tornadoes are coming to kill you.

The DirecTV Screwing – Pt. 3

At roughly 5pm on the day of the appointment I reach out to DirecTV. I endure the automated insult system. I had to use my mother’s Verizon cell phone because when I call with my Consumer Cellular phone using AT&T SIM and enter in the account number 259532971 and try to get to a human I am told “I’m sorry, this number is serviced by a third party. Please hang up and dial start something or other or call your cell carrier directly.”

I kid you not. Try it. Use the account number and any third party carrier using AT&T SIM cards like Consumer Cellular. Don’t worry about it. You can’t get far enough in to do anything.

The Agile Catastrophe

This issue is a direct result of using Agile software development. A septic tank full of “User Stories” instead of qualified people doing actual Software Engineering. They don’t even have Systems Architect and Application Architects involved in the process. It is the job of those two individuals to protect the architecture, company, and customer. If you investigate you will find it started with a “User Story” much like this:

As a user I would like to stop third party carrier customers from using AT&T customer service.

It is the job of the Systems and application Architects to ask “Fine. What about DirecTV and all of the other business lines?” which stops catastrophes like this. How many millions of customers cannot get through to DirecTV customer support because of this?

Companies are flocking to Agile so they can commit accounting fraud. Rent Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room to see how accounting fraud was committed pre-SOX. Sky-high valuations placed on software that didn’t work by Big-N accounting firms. Today you use Agile. There is no written definition of what the software as a whole entity was supposed to do and you have “automated tests” that “prove” each little piece coming out the back side of a sprint “works.” You use a per story point astronomical charge-back value and book software that cannot be used as an asset with a massively inflated value before the developers even cash their paychecks. This is how you end-run SOX. Nothing works but the books once again have that delicious fully cooked aroma for Wall Street.

Sorry for the detour but it is relevant.

Customer Service Does Nothing

Customer service begrudgingly looks up what happened. The tech called in sick that morning. This is another issue with the Agile software development process. They are just creating a bucket of N appointments that get listed somewhere. Maybe an installer picks it up, maybe they don’t. There is no feed back. When a tech calls in sick there is no notification of any kind. DirecTV doesn’t reach out. It’s up to the customer, after wasting an entire day sitting around for someone that will never show to follow up. DirecTV schedules installation appointments even when there are no installers. The scheduling system allows them to fill in N slots each day so they do. You aren’t actually “scheduled.” There is no technician assigned. You are just in some kind of lottery system hoping for an installer.

We make appointment 2. You guessed it, 2 weeks out.

Keep in mind we were supposed to upgrade to avoid service outages and will now have had no DirecTV service for over a month. This is basically what is happening to all rural Illinois residents.

The DirecTV Screwing – Pt. 4

Appointment 2 is a morning appointment. By noon I’m on the phone. I have go use mother’s Verizon phone because my Consumer Cellular still cannot get through despite me repeatedly telling them. Nobody was assigned. I kid you not. One of the customer service people I spoke with during this battle confessed that the nearest installation company was a 45-minute drive one way from my location. Still, they were adamant that nobody could install that dish by themselves. “You would have to hook up the swim” was the mantra they recited.

The DirecTV SWM

You hook up the cable from the antenna to one clearly labeled port. After that you need a 3-6 foot coax cable leftover from any VCR you’ve ever owned to connect to the input port on the back of the receiver. After that you just plug it into a surge protector or just a wall outlet if you believe you will never have a power surge.

If you ever hooked up your own VCR or DVD player, you got this.

The DirecTV Screwing – Pt. 5

Mother couldn’t handle the Roku stick I hooked up for her. She wanted channel numbers and the kids at Roku can’t figure out how to do channel numbers. She wanted her HGTV and other channels that we were paying for this entire time when she didn’t have shit for television, just an old antenna TV in my room.

You can install this yourself. How do I know this? Because I had enough with DirecTV perpetual lies. I poked around and found the DIY kit from SolidSignal. The kick to the crotch is you have to buy the kit for over a hundred dollars. The nearest authorized installer was 45 miles away and they ignored all appointments out this far. DirecTV tries to keep you locked into their installers by hiding one critical piece of information.

The 101 satellite is the SD satellite and activation satellite. You’ll need signal in the high 80s to 90s to activate. Satellites 99 and 103 are your HD, and the rest are useless.

That’s correct children. The 101 SD satellite, same one they claimed was about to fall out of the sky, is the only satellite you can activate with. They don’t use the Internet connection for activation, only Pay-Per-View.

The DirecTV Screwing – Pt. 6

After pointing the dish by myself on a windy rainy day, I got it lined up. The service activated. Everything was fine until we went to turn on the news.

Oh, you only get the Champaign channels because you are in Ford county and all of Ford county is served by Champaign.

DirecTV Customer Abuse

They refused to give us the Chicago channels that we had for over 30 years!

Numerous tornadoes and other harsh storms came through the area. We could not watch Doppler Max radar to see if we needed to seek shelter. You know what we had to use?

Y2K hand crank radio
Y2K hand crank radio

That’s right, a Y2K hand crank radio that I bought for Y2K. Out here cellular service is a joke waiting for a punch line. The line of sight Internet is usually one of the first things to go down during bad weather because our power is transmitted from a long way away. Hundreds of miles of line and thousands of transformers along with other equipment stand in line to get destroyed by the weather. I am second to last on the power line. The outage probably won’t impact you, but it will always impact me. A stand-by generator keeps me functional but all of that Internet and cell tower equipment hooked to the same trunk line, not so much.

Oddly enough, the new dish actually worked well during harsh weather. Old dish would always fiz out eventually, but new one seemed to cut through the clouds properly. Didn’t matter. The Champaign stations don’t serve our area.


Ground based television transmission and weather radar towers do this.

Some politician or MBA reaching up their ass past the elbow and pulling out

Ford county will be served by Champaign

cannot override physics and science. You have a curvature of the earth problem.

Many Chicago stations transmit from the top of the Sears Tower. At one time it was the tallest building in the world. There is nothing that tall in Champaign. Yes, the boot of Ford county can and historically has been served by Champaign and other southern stations.

Traditionally they reached almost to Piper City. It’s a height of antenna curvature of Earth thing. ABC7 and the other Chicago stations transmitting from the top of the Sears Tower traditionally have reached all the way to Piper City. Now, with the newer digital signals, they probably reach south of Roberts. It’s a height of antenna thing.

National Weather Service radar out of Champaign doesn’t reach here.


Mother passed away in April of 2023. She never got her Chicago channels from this shit service. The day I came home from the hospital after her passing I cancelled these bastards. Yes, they screwed me yet again with an early cancellation fee but to finally be rid of the assholes was worth every penny. Now I can warn you about the shit company they are.

Even the most incompetent political appointee would not allocate television channels by county. Over the air transmission is a jagged circle like you see in that NOAA map. Buildings, trees, and current weather impact reception.

This is not a Ford county problem by itself. This is potentially every county in America because some incompetent boob decided it would be simple to allocate channels via county when all they had to do is look at the NOAA maps! Simpler still, they could just let customers decided the channels they want.

Being a DirecTV customer can kill you. When you look out your window to see this

It’s already too late.

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