However for many of us subscribers, a very bad odor remains behind. DISH is unlikely to recover the high opinion some of us once held of them. Watching them act like big bullies to weaker business partners made me uncomfortable. Indeed their excessively brutal business methods shattered their carefully cultivated PR image.
Getting myself involved with DISH was a dumb idea.
The announcement on the WTEN Channel 6 slot on my tuner has something new: Dish Network is continuing to tell one side of the story, trashing WTEN in the process, and asking the Dish subscribers to call a couple of their advertisers and let them know they are unhappy with the station. Dear god, has Dish no scruples? This is more like a battle between the Mafia gangs than a negotiation. What other reason would be to recruit Dish viewers into the nasty game and ask them to call the station's advertisers.
Dish goes further by publishing the phone number of the station manager of WTEN asking their subscribers to harass her with phonecalls while they keep the DISH CEO number well hidden. What a bunch of nasty people.
In any case, shortly after Dish pulled the station off the lineup, and began hurling half truths around in place of the programming, I went to work digging for the other side of the story. And that is in my earlier blog, just below this one in my Arts America lineup. I refuse to deal with half a picture, I wanted all of it.
After coming up with the real issue - less than a penny a day royalty fee to WTEN for each area DISH customer, I wrote DISH and stated my position. Here is that email as I wrote it:
Dear Dish Customer Service:
Just a note that if you drop WTEN coverage I will leave DISH network. It is the only station that does a good job on the Northern Berkshires weather and news.
Frankly I would prefer a Massachusetts station, but I doubt you would even consider that - it is too logical.
If they want a penny a day (you charge 23 cents a day for four local Albany stations) pay them. God knows, with all the noisome commercials you guys should be paying me to endure them in any case. This is not an idle threat. I have my Verizon deal with Direct TV sitting in front of me, and I will save money in the long run. Stop being so greedy. Even if you paid each of the Albany stations a penny a day, you would still be keeping 75% of the amount I pay you. You are not playing fair.
(signed by me)
I waited several days to see if they disputed what I had written, and how they were handling customer feedback. This is the email I just received in response, and it is mostly boilerplate until you get to the last paragraph and they start pushing the disconnection issue.
In my note above you can see I made a conditional statement: "Just a note that if you drop WTEN coverage I will leave DISH network." Their response seems to indicate that they have decided to do just that, but are doing as much damage as possible to WTEN before pulling the plug.
What kind of people have I been giving my business to over the past couple of years? Certainly not very decent ones. If this is their idea of negotiating, no wonder they have such a poor reputation. Imagine, they were once tops in customer service, but not lately. You can see why in this reply to me, which I reprint complete and unedited:
Dear DISH Network Customers,
Effective December 10, 2008, DISH Network’s contract with your ABC affiliate, WTEN, expired and has not been renewed due to the unreasonable contract terms from WTEN’s ownership, Young Broadcasting, Inc. DISH Network has offered WTEN a fair and reasonable increase which it has refused. In the last few years, DISH Network has negotiated for retransmission consent with nearly 1,000 other local TV stations and has reached a fair agreement with all of them. DISH Network will continue to work toward an agreement to restore your ABC programming as soon as possible. DISH Network remains committed to providing the best programming at the lowest price. The fees DISH Network pays for programming directly impact the price our customers pay, and we are unwilling to subject you to increased costs resulting from excessive and unnecessary license fee demands.
We apologize for any inconvenience and will continue to make every effort to reach an agreement with WTEN. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit www.ABC.com to watch full-length episodes of your favorite shows.
We encourage you to contact WTEN’s General Manager directly and let her know what you think: · WTEN General Manager Rene La Spina: 518-433-4290.
For security reasons, we cannot disconnect account via email. However, we have forwarded your request to our disconnection department. A representative will contact you shortly to confirm your disconnection. You also have the option to call 1-800-333-3474 to disconnect through a customer service representative, who will go over disconnection options and final disclosures with you.
Your business is greatly appreciated and we thank you for allowing us to be of assistance to you. If you have any further questions or concerns, please refer to (link) or reply to this email.
Sincerely, DISH Network E-Care
I didn't ask to be disconnected, just stated it would be a consequence of their dropping WTEN. Not only did they not answer any of my concerns, but it appears they just want me gone. But it would not be smart of me to be too hasty. There is the fine print in the contract between Dish and me. (They gave very good lawyers, I will give them that!)
Of course, there are some things they have not yet told me. If I cancel, there is no refund for the unused portion of the prepaid service as per their contract. And clearly by telling me to go online to watch ABC there is no concern that they have eliminated an entire network but are still collecting full freight for my subscription.
And to think I once recommended DISH to some neighbors. No more.