Convenient online cancellation has always been one of the biggest advantages of cable cutting. Whether you cancel Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, or Philo, you’ll never have to pick up the phone or deal with annoying customer service reps to get rid of your service.
DirecTV Stream, formerly known as AT&T TV, AT&T Now, and DirecTV Now, has become the exception. In recent weeks, DirecTV quietly changed its policies so that most new customers can only stop service through online chat, while some existing customers must call a customer service number to cancel. Easy online cancellation only remains available to select legacy subscribers and customers in New York and California, where state laws require fewer hoops to jump.
It didn’t used to be like that. When the service was called DirecTV Now, any customer could cancel online with the click of a button, and that practice continued for several years as the service went through numerous name changes. But now that AT&T has spun off DirecTV into a separate company that focuses on pay TV packages, it has resorted to shoddy satellite TV tactics to retain subscribers.
How do you cancel DirecTV Stream now?
Nick Ammazzalorso, a spokesperson for DirecTV, did not say exactly when DirecTV Stream removed its one-click cancel option for new subscribers, but noted that the service changed its name to AT&T TV on August 26. This is likely when the company changed its policies. (I only discovered the change after hearing from a reader who had trouble canceling their service.)
If you signed up online for AT&T TV or DirecTV Stream, go to DirecTV account management page and clicking the “Cancel my subscription” link now leads to a pop-up window, where you need to click the “Chat to cancel” button. This starts an online chat session where you must send your request to a DirecTV agent.
I confirmed this myself by creating a new DirecTV Stream account and immediately tried to cancel it. The rep, Kevin, asked for an explanation and when I told him I didn’t want the service, he asked for more details. When I reiterated that I was simply not interested, he relented, but still made me write my email address and postal address to confirm the cancellation. While the interaction didn’t take long, it was a hassle compared to other streaming services.
Instead, some customers will have to cancel over the phone, but what exactly triggers this requirement is unclear. Ammazzalorso said it applies to customers who signed up at an AT&T store, but I heard from a customer who signed up online and still received a phone number to call instead of an online chat option.
Ammazzalorso also gave me a different number for customers to call (800-288-2020) than the one DirecTV lists in their menu system (800-531-5000), with the former going to an AT&T system instead of one. by DirecTV. But either way, you will have to go through an automated answering system to reach a representative, who will then ask you for an explanation before allowing you to cancel.
Note that these two cancellation methods are not interchangeable, according to Ammazzalorso. You cannot call customer service if you are supposed to cancel via online chat, nor can you use chat if you are supposed to cancel over the phone. To see which method you are meant to use, you will have to go through DirecTV account management website first.
DirecTV still offers simple online cancellation online without speaking to a representative, mostly in places where it is required to do so.
In 2018, California began requiring online cancellation options for all services that accept online registrations. And last year, New York passed a law requiring all subscription services to offer a “cost-effective, timely and easy-to-use cancellation mechanism.” In both states, clicking “Cancel my subscription” in DirecTV account management website leads to a message with a big blue “Cancel now” button.
DirecTV also offers this option to some customers who have subscribed to legacy DirecTV Now and AT&T TV Now plans, regardless of where they live. But even this exception seems to have exceptions. After asking my readers Cord Cutter Weekly Newsletter About their cancellation options, I heard from a subscriber who said that they subscribed to DirecTV Now in mid-2018, but could only cancel via online chat.
In other words, the whole situation is a disaster, and even those who work for DirecTV don’t seem to have a clear handle. And while DirecTV has the technical ability to make cancellation easy, it chooses to make the process more difficult because it can.
Clawing for subscribers
DirecTV’s tactics echo those of some cable companies that have also immersed themselves in broadcasting. Spectrum, for example, offers more flexible TV packages to cable cutters who still pay for company Internet service. But once you’ve signed up, you can’t cancel without a call to customer service, in which you may have to sit through a cell phone service sales pitch first.
Like most other legacy TV providers, DirecTV’s subscriber base is in free fall, and while the company talks about a “new era“and a”Brilliant Future“As it comes off AT&T, it still hasn’t gotten more competitive than before. DirecTV Stream’s starting price of $ 70 per month is higher than YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Fubo TV, which start at $ 65. per month, and offers fewer channels than those alternatives.Unless you need regional Bally Sports channels, which DirecTV Stream includes in its $ 85-a-month package, there is no solid reason to choose the service over cheaper alternatives.
Rather than offering a more competitive service, making cancellation difficult is one way to slow the bleeding. But if the continued decline of cable and satellite television has taught us anything, it is a tactic that does not work forever.
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