Why Is DIRECTV Customer Service Based Overseas?


Q. I’ve been reading your stories on DIRECTV and AT&T and how they are losing subscribers. Thank you for writing them. I have found it interesting that many customers are complaining about DIRECTV’s customer service team being unable to speak English very well. I have found that to be the case, too. It seems like they are based in a country where English is not the first language. Why would DIRECTV do that? Most of their customers speak English, right? — Danny, Toledo, Ohio. 

Danny, that is right. The vast majority of DIRECTV’s U.S. subscribers consider English to be their first language, although a sizable number of Spanish-speaking U.S. residents get the satellite service as well.

And you are also right that many current and former DIRECTV customers have complained here and in other social media forums that they have difficulty understanding what the satcaster’s service reps are saying. For instance, comments from one of our stories:

“First thing AT&T HAS to DO is MOVE its Customer Service BACK to the USA.
It will NEVER get better with its HORRIBLE Overseas Service.”

“I totally agree with moving customer service back to the US. I live in the country.”

“The people that work for customer service and you couldn’t understand not just because you had a heavy deep voice on the other line is because they were from India-Pakistan wherever that the broken English came from but if you can’t understand it and you ask for a supervisor and that supervisor his English is just as bad as the last.”

“Let me echo the frustration with the poor customer service. I know offshoring looks good on paper but the service provided to the customer suffers.”

AT&T, which owns DIRECTV, does have some call centers in the U.S., but the telco has contracted with third party companies such as Convergys to run the majority of their lines in other countries, such as India and the Philippines. The telco is saving a significant amount of money doing this because wages are much lower outside the U.S. Labor laws are also more relaxed overseas, which allows AT&T to use people for longer shifts, creating another cost savings.

The company is not the only U.S. firm that uses overseas call centers. In fact, it’s become quite common. But AT&T’s greater reliance on non-U.S. workers has prompted severe criticism from American unions, and AT&T customers who say they have more difficulty communicating, particularly when discussing technical subjects such as satellite TV.

“I called customer service on my DIRECTV account today and was redirected to a customer agent in the Philippines. It was a horrible call in which she could not comprehend what I was saying even though I was repeating myself . I asked to speak to a supervisor and she refused to transfer me. I felt like I was talking to a 12-year-old . Correction, I think a 12-year-old would’ve probably understand what I was saying.
I’m fed up with Direct TV and I’m going to change my service now because of this experience,” one DIRECTV customer recently wrote on an AT&T customer forum.

It would be foolish (and crass) to suggest that no one outside this country is able to speak English. And I suspect that many of AT&T’s customer reps overseas are quite proficient in the language. The third party vendor wouldn’t hire just anyone off the street. (Or, at least, I don’t think they would.)

But the outpouring of critical comments from DIRECTV’s customers can’t be ignored. Clearly, there is a communication gap here, and it’s prompting some DIRECTV subscribers to either quit, or carefully consider doing so.

That’s a problem for AT&T, one that needs to be addressed immediately or DIRECTV will lose even more subscribers.

Last point: Most customer reps, based in the U.S. or elsewhere, try their best to solve your problem. It’s not their fault that you can’t understand them. They are just doing their jobs the best they can.

So, despite your frustration, be patient if you have trouble understanding them. You want an answer, and they want to provide you with one. It just might take a little longer.

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— Phillip Swann

14 comments on “Why Is DIRECTV Customer Service Based Overseas?”

  1. Customer service of DTV is the main reason we switched back to Dish Network. Being slightly hard of hearing coupled with poor English both in speaking and understanding of the DTV reps are the main reason I switched back to Dish.

  2. The poor language skills has resulted in the worst customer service I have ever experienced. Twice they have cancelled my service when I never said anything close to those words. They also cancelled the last two weeks of Sunday Ticket when I called to make sure I was not going to be renewed for next year. They would not correct their mistake and wanted $150 to add it back.

    If I actually got someone in Mexico I would be ecstatic. They are completely worthless and only read the script. AT&T is the worst ever!

  3. When you call customer service, select the voice prompt “CLOSE MY DIRECTV ACCOUNT”.
    This will route you to call a center in the United States where you can voice some frustration, and maybe get some free programming as well!

  4. A few months ago when I received my bill I was charged about $70 for a pay per view football game that neither my husband nor I watched. I called to dispute the charge and was told that I ordered it from my remote and they would not remove the charge. We still have AT&T but they have removed the function for me to be able to order. Who would order a $70 football game?

  5. They are NOT Saving money with Overseas Call Centers.

    These Companies Need to be treated like a UTILITY.
    Trump and his DE-Regulation.is WRONG.

    There needs to be a NEW Federal LAW,
    If you do Business in the USA,
    You MUST have Customer Service in the USA that SPEAK ENGLISH
    ESPECIALLY Utilities, Monopolies and Cable / Satellite Companies.

    This would ALSO Provide JOBS in the USA.
    Trump, are you listening ?

    Overseas Call Centers do NOT Benefit ANYONE Except the CEO’S.
    NOT the Customers.
    Their CEO’S Don’t need a NEW YACHT, JET, etc. every day.

    Look at AT&T’s DirecTV.
    It “LOST” 4 MILLION PLUS Customers since 2015
    That amounts to OVER $ 13 MILLION a “DAY”
    $ 400,000,000 MILLION Dollars a “MONTH”
    or $ 4.8 BILLION Dollars a Year just for DirecTV
    figured at $ 100. 00 per customers bill per month.

    If my math is correct, that is a LOT of Money.

    The Stock Holders are also getting the SHAFT

    How can they say they are SAVING Money ??
    They are NOT

  6. DTV is nothing but a rip off. The CS Reps tells LIES. They don’t notate your acct. They are constantly hiking their prices. They are nothing but a joke. I have to call them EVERY MONTH B4 I pay my bill about something. I am getting rid of them as soon as my contract is up. They don’t care ANYTHING about their customers and they make it very clearly that they DO NOT CARE!!!!!
    Please if you don’t have DTV, I recommend that you don’t get service with them. You will REGRET IT.

  7. The girl I spoke to yesterday spoke perfect English and had a sultry, appealing tone to her voice. Which made it really easy to cancel the service. Youtube TV for me all the way!

  8. We just cancelled service with Direct. They are liars. My husband was strolling through Wal-Mart when he was approached by a woman trying to get ppl to sign up for service. Said it would be $50 for one year. We did that. So then around two weeks before time was up we called to have it cancelled. We were informed that we had already been signed up for another year because the contract is actually for two years not just one, and the price was being jacked up to $170 a month. My husband told them we wanted to cancel it all but they told us we had to pay a fee for early cancellation. So they ‘helped’ by dropping the price to around $70. A few days later a rep called and said he wanted to help us get it down more and got it down to $35 as we explained how unhappy we were over the ordeal and didn’t care if he dropped it down to one channel. So after all this we get a call saying we are overdue on our payment. We call and the lady says we owe them $17.00…. We are like ok.. We can do that. Paid it by card right then. A month later we get a bill saying we owe $170.00 and they shut it off!!! So as of yesterday we cancelled and they still want to charge another $120 for early cancellation… Yeah.. Not gonna pay that. Outsourcing calls is the least of things wrong with this company.

  9. Thank you for reminding people to be patient with representatives for whom English isn’t always their first language.

    As a supervisor in a call center for a television company (thankfully not DirecTV lol) I get way too many calls where people straight up insult our reps for having an accent and then escalate hoping to “Get someone who speaks ‘proper’ English” … Only for me to have a hard time understanding the customers accent… Lol and I was born, raised, and live in the US with English as my first language.

    While my feelings on outsourcing are a bit more complicated, I’d just like to reiterate the sentiment…

    When at all possible, be nice to your phone reps. The majority of them work really hard to find a solution to your issues and genuinely want to help while making a living for their families.

  10. I too had problems with the call center in India and I worked for DirecTV here in the states.. I once had to hang up on”Bob”.. I couldn’t understand what he was saying..

  11. Act like your going to cancel DirecTV and you’ll be sent to the loyalty department that’s based in the U.S. I do it all the time.

  12. If customer service was the only complaint I could live with it, but rising prices & losing channels (and not getting replacements channels or a reduction in our bill) is even more aggravating. Not to mention them combining my bills and screwing up my account.

  13. At and T and Direct TV have the worst customer service I have ever experienced in my 50 plus years of dealing with companies..there is not one good thing I can say about their products or their off shore service..customers are leaving in droves as a result of this now you tell me a business woman exactly how has that saved your company money you have lost more than you have saved yet you CEO ‘s get paulie millions while the common working class deals with your poor non working products ..your deceptive lies to life customers in and then the horrible customer service from non English speaking understanding don’t.care cheaply paid help…are these overpaid executives that stupid they can’t see the problems or are they simply counting their millions and don’t care! If more people complained by exposing them …ending their service with them and spread the word that they are awful then maybe they would listen although I doubt it

  14. I agree 100%!! A week ago I called needing a new power chord because mine had a short in it.The rep kept thinking I meant my power chord was too short!! She kept telling me to get an extension chord!! I swear you cant make this stuff up!!! I tried for 15 min to explain a short in an electrical chord but she kept telling me to try the extension chord!! I finally gave up and ordered one from Amazon for $10

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