Call DirecTV and get free stuff?

Some DirecTV customers upset with the loss of Viacom channels appear to be getting deals from the cable TV provider.

Story highlights

  • DirecTV customers report getting deals to keep them with the company
  • Some say they were offered $10 off per month to stay with DirecTV
  • This comes as the satellite company is in dispute with Viacom
  • Viacom channels, including Comedy Central, are no longer available on DirecTV
Maybe it pays to be a complainer.
Several DirecTV customers are reporting on online forums that they were able to get up to $10 per month knocked off their bills because they threatened to leave the satellite TV company over the fact that Viacom programming is no longer available for DirecTV customers.
"Wow they must like me, I got $10 off per month for 12 months, Starz for free for 6 months, and NFL Sunday Ticket for $99. So I come out $20 ahead after a year," one commenter wrote on a forum on the site Satellite Guys. "All I did was say I'd like to cancel due to the Viacom dispute. I was not expecting to get all that thrown at me."
A dispute between satellite provider DirecTV and the media company Viacom led late Tuesday to nearly 20 million customers losing access to 26 Viacom channels, including MTV, Nickelodeon and Comedy Central.
CNNMoney has more information on the dispute: "Viacom is seeking a 30% increase, or $1 billion more than its previous deal, DirecTV said in a statement. Viacom countered that its proposed increase totals 'a couple of pennies per day per subscriber.' Disputes between media companies and cable or satellite TV providers have become increasingly common, but this one is hitting an especially wide audience."
DirecTV announced that it would give its subscribers free access to premium Encore channels this month to show appreciation for their loyalty.
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"To thank you for your patience until Viacom channels are returned, all eight Encore Channels (including Encore Family) will be made available to all customers thru July 31st," the company wrote Wednesday on its Facebook page. "Tune to Channels 535 to 542 to start watching."
People who called the company, however, seemed to get better offers.
Another commenter on the Satellite Guys forum wrote that he or she received "$5 off for 3 months, $5 off Starz 6 months, $5 off Sports Pack 6 months" from the company.
"(I) only asked about it, never said I wanted anything! Very well done Directv!" that commenter wrote.
"I got $25 off of Premier for 6 months," wrote another person.
CNN could not independently verify these reports. In response to a question about whether the company is offering deals to customers who threaten to leave, a spokesman said only that DirecTV is "always willing to work with our customers to keep them happy."
"We have not seen an impact on our subscriber numbers and an overwhelming number of our customers are telling us they will stick with us until this is resolved," the spokesman said in a statement. "They appreciate that we are fighting on their behalf to keep their bills at an acceptable level."
Several forums reported relatively long wait times for people who placed calls to DirecTV. And the Internet is full of hate mail for both DirecTV and Viacom.
CNNMoney tech reporter David Goldman said he called the company to complain about his service and was offered a deal similar to those being discussed in the online forums.
"I figured with the Viacom thing, DirecTV might be extra amenable to giving me a deal," he wrote in an e-mail. "Turns out I was right ... When I got someone and told her I was thinking of canceling, she found several deals to save me $25 a month and give me some nice perks. I'm getting $5 off HBO for 3 months, free DVR for 12 months ($10 off), and another $10 off my bill for 24 months. I also got NFL Sunday Ticket for free this year."
The deals didn't appear to placate all customers, however.
"Just scored $5.00 monthly credit and free Showtime for 3 months," one commenter wrote on a forum. "Would rather have Comedy Central back!"