What a circus!
We replaced our tired, leaking roof with a new, metal roof. The DirecTV technician who came out to reinstall our dish correctly noted that he could not install the dish on our home because we had a metal roof and metal siding. He installed a cute ground antenna system, which basically anchors the unit with water-filled boxes.
The antenna is fully functional in its current location and is not in anyone’s pathway or really anyone’s normal line-of-sight. As far as I was concerned, all was well on the Eastern front.
However, the property manager came around and flagged our property because their corporate policy does not allow satellite antennas to be placed on the ground. She stated that DirecTV knows that a ground-mounted antenna is supposed to be mounted on a four-foot pole. A quick walk around the park found multiple examples of pole-mounted DirecTV antennas.
Multiple calls to AT&T later showed that their internal team has major communications problems. It was the sixth person they referred me to that actually understood the problem and knew that the four-foot pole installation was an available alternative for our location. He scheduled an appointment for two days later and told me that I needed to call 811 for a utility-related clearance to dig. 811 is the number you call to verify that there are no utility wires or pipes in the area you plan to dig. A clearance to dig is required by state law.
The 811 Fiasco
I went to the 811 online form — 811express.com — and attempted to fill it out. When I indicated that I was not the person doing the digging, it asked for their name and phone number. If I said that I was that person, it didn’t like my address, so I had two reasons to call their customer service number.
The agent was friendly and cooperative. He asked me if I was the one doing the digging. When I told him it was DirecTV, he became frustrated. He told me that DirecTV was always telling its customers to call 811, when the law clearly states that it is the person with the shovel in their hands that was required to call. He also told me that DirecTV was placing itself at risk as the protection provided by the 811 review only worked for the person who placed the call.
He gave me an option to open a ticket, which I declined. I wanted to call DirecTV and get their policies corrected. This was the second time they had given me a bum steer and I didn’t like it. I spent another half hour on the phone with them before I finally found someone who actually listened to my explanation.
She said that they always told the customer to call 811 and I was the first person to question that practice. I explained the concept of the person holding the shovel being the one who needs to call. I also gave her this example. If I placed the call and the 811 people did not flag an old, undocumented gas line under their work location. I would be protected from liability. If AT&T then dug their hole, hit the gas line and the house burned to the ground, I would be able to sue them as they would not have any liability protection. She said she would instruct her team to call 811 and take the issue to higher management for resolution.
For Further Information
DigAlert is a non-profit mutual benefit corporation funded completely by the utility members. The service is free and basically painless.
- California State Law Says, You Must Contact DigAlert Before You Dig!
- DigAlert: Frequently Asked Questions – Homeowners
Aug 7 — no show
Aug 10 — no show
Aug 12 — no show
Aug 15 — no show — expect a callback (none)
Aug 17 — no show — expect a callback (none)
Aug 18 — no show
Aug 19 — no show — expect a callback between 1:00-3:00 (none)
Aug 20 — they finally arrived!
A gentleman showed up at 9:00 for an appointment scheduled between 8:00-12:00. Unfortunately, he wasn’t told what the job was supposed to be and didn’t have the correct tools. He called another technician who did have the needed tools and arranged to meet him at our house before noon. After calling to say they would be late, they both showed up at 1:00 and completed the job around 3:00 pm
Here are the things I learned:
- Since we are in a private, residential area, google did not do their normal Streetview scan of the location and the GPS directions point to a house four doors down the road. Most of the technicians canceled because they were at the wrong house. (In spite of the houses all having large street number signs.)
- The real problem is their ticket system: or what really is two ticket systems. They do not talk to each other.
- The dispatchers entered carefully detailed information into their ticket system, but all the technician is the sees a blank box.
- The technician in the field does the same thing, but their comments are not visible to the dispatchers.
- Neither team has a phone number they can call to talk with the other team.
That is sheer stupidity! Thus, the title of this post.