Is the DirecTV Protection Plan Worth the Investment?
Are you wasting money on a DirecTV Protection Plan?
If you have DirecTV, you probably have the protection plan that they provide. This protection plan is offered to all new customers during the sign-up process. Since it only costs an additional $8 per month, most people opt to have the service on their account without ever really knowing what it is for or protects. As a former DirecTV customer service technician, I encountered many calls that ended up in having to explain what the protection plan covered, so maybe this will save you a little time during your next call to DirecTV.
Who provides the protection?
As stated before, the protection plan is offered to each customer when they originally sign up for DirecTV. This service, however, is not owned by DirecTV/AT&T. The company that actually provides the warranty service is Asurion or rather NEW Asurion. NEW Asurion is a subsidiary of Asurion Inc., that specifically deals in DirecTV warranties. While the original protection plan costs just $8 per month, there are now options to purchase a premiere protection plan for $19.99 or a premiere protection plan with ADH for $24.99, which I will elaborate on later.
What Are You Actually Paying for?
Think of these services as insurance. Where does your insurance money really go? It sits there, right? You may actually never use it. Most insurance companies use your payment to invest in stocks, annuities, or even bank CDs. No doubt, Asurion does the same. While auto insurance companies will sometimes cut you a check for an estimated amount, Asurion is able to pay subcontractors to come fix your problem. NEW Asurion often has contracts with these different subcontractors, which gives them a discount on their services. While a typical service call may cost me or you $50, NEW Asurion may get the same service for half that price. So, while you may be paying around $100 per year for the protection plan, you may actually never get what you paid for unless you have 3 or 4 service calls per year. Since less than 20% of DirecTV customers require at least one service call per year, it's easy to see how Asurion can make money by providing this service.
What isn't covered?
This is where it gets tricky. If you have ever had to deal with an auto insurance company because of an automobile accident, you can understand the runaround that you may get. "Oh, you hit a deer? I'm sorry, that's not covered." You readers in the south know what I'm talking about. The protection plan works the same way. Not everything is covered, even if the problem was not caused by you. Some of the most irate calls I received were from customers who were not covered by the protection plan due to the problem being caused by "an act of God". You heard me correctly. This is an actual term that is used in the warranty contract. I always had a problem with this wording because it used God as an excuse to get out of paying the bill, while in most companies wouldn't even acknowledge religion as a deciding factor. So, what is an act of God in DirecTV's opinion? Acts of God are actually problems that occur due to nature. This includes damage because of fallen trees or tree limbs, misalignment due to strong wind, water damage, damage by an animal, and even limited signal due to growth of trees. Unless you are/were a customer with one of these problems or have been a DirecTV customer service rep, you can't imagine the disgust displayed by a customer after being told that one of these issues wouldn't be covered because it was an act of God. Other problems that aren't covered are issues that arise due to human error. Human error involves but is not limited to: cutting any wires, moving equipment, damaging your dish in any way unless done while troubleshooting with a representative, and several other things.
What is covered?
Originally, the protection plan was supposed to cover technical issues due to equipment malfunction or failure and dish alignment issues. Over the years, the plan has been extended to cover just about anything inside your home. Whether you have a faulty cable or phone jack, anything that provides AT&T service inside your home is covered. Accidental damage has been added to the plan as well due to many complaints from having to troubleshoot equipment. The most significant addition to protection plan coverage is the free receiver upgrades every two years. This used to be separate from the protection plan, but in order to encourage more customers to purchase the service, it was eventually included only if you have the protection plan. One thing that many customers don't know is remotes are covered as well, but only if they have been damaged or stopped working. Don't call in and expect to receive a free remote because you lost yours. If anything, tell them that it stopped working. You will have no problem getting a free new remote.
Now, I'd like to talk a little about the premier protection plan. Is it worth having? In most cases, no. This particular protection plan costs $20 per month ($240 per year) or $25 per month for the premier with ADH ($300 per year). If you have the premier plan, but only have your DirecTV equipment and one or two televisions, please revert to the base protection plan. The only people that benefit from either of these plans are those with expensive surround sound systems and multiple TV sets. While the ADH option is beneficial for those with laptops, a similar protective warranty can be purchased from retail stores for only $25 for a 2-year warranty. In other words, you're paying twice as much as you have to. If you have over $5k worth of electronics, go ahead and buy that extra protection. If not, it's best to save that extra $100-$200 per year and put it towards your bills or anything else you like.
How to be covered by the Protection Plan every time
As I stated before, "acts of God" are not covered by your protection plan. So, how can you be covered every time? When you call DirecTV support with a technical issue, you are asked what caused the issue. The only answer you ever need to provide is "I don't know". They will then ask you to perform troubleshooting steps. I encourage all to complete these steps because you may be able to resolve your issue within an hour, opposed to having to wait for a service call, which could take several weeks. If you are familiar with the troubleshooting steps or have done them previously, you can fake your way through them with the representative until all steps are complete. Once all steps are complete and your issue has not been resolved, the customer service rep will issue you a service call, which will be covered under your protection plan. I feel like I shouldn't have to say this but, if you have ripped your dish off of the roof and thrown it onto your front lawn, don't expect the service call to be free. Most of the subcontracted companies couldn't care less if your issue is covered by the protection plan as long as it seems that you are unaware of what caused the problem.
Please feel free to leave comments about your experience below. If you have any questions that I may be able to help with, please use the Q&A feature, and I will respond as soon as I am able.