DISH Nightmare

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

Discontinuing DISH TV service

We’ve had DISH TV as long as we’ve had the house that we just sold, and we’ve always been  happy with their service. Sure, we wished it cost less, but we were basically happy. Until we went to close out our account in connection with becoming full-time cruisers. Then it became a nightmare.

NOTE: The info here doesn’t really have to do with cruising . . . unless you have DISH TV and plan to end your service.

As soon as we had an accepted offer on the house and a closing date, I called DISH to end our service when we moved out of the house, a little over three weeks away.

Nightmare 1: convincing them that I didn’t want to — couldn’t — have DISH service at my new address. Just saying that I was moving onto a boat wasn’t enough – they had all sorts of ways for my boat to get DISH service. I finally said that we were going to the Bahamas and that stopped this line of questioning. (Believe me, just saying “no” didn’t work.)

Nightmare 2: didn’t any of my friends or family want DISH? I could give them my receiver and remote. How many times did I say no to this one?

I just wanted to get the receiver and remote back to them so I wouldn’t be charged for them! The thought of what I’d be charged both for the equipment and continued service is the only thing that kept me pursuing this.

Nightmare 3: what was the name of the purchaser of our house? Didn’t he want DISH service? I refused to give his name and said no, again . . . which is what he’d told me.

C’mon, how do I end our service and get the receiver back to you? I’d been on the phone over an hour at this point and my patience was wearing a little thin.

Well, since no one wants it, you can mail it back to us. DISH was to mail me a box to use. It would come in 5 to 7 work days. Oh, and I was also supposed to send back the “eye” of the dish . . . which is on our roof. I said no way, I’m 55 and my husband is 77, and we’re not climbing on the roof and then reaching out over the edge to get this thing. They said okay, I don’t have to return it; they supposedly made a note on our account.

And, by the way, maybe I don’t need to return the receiver. If it’s an obsolete model, I won’t have to. But they can’t tell me over the phone if it’s obsolete; I have to wait until I get the instructions with the box and can check what model we have against the list there. Well, yes, they do know what model I have and thus whether to bill me if I don’t return it, but the customer service reps aren’t given this info. I almost feel sorry for the poor customer service rep that I’m talking to; he sees the absurdity of all this and can’t do a thing about it.

We end the conversation.

Nightmare 4: no box. After ten days, I called. It’ll be there, I was told. When? Just wait a few more days, I was told.

Friday before we are closing (and have to be out) on Monday, the box still hasn’t arrived. I call again and am now told that the box hasn’t been sent yet; the previous people were wrong about it being sent. It won’t be sent until my service has ended.

I lost it. The box won’t even be mailed to me until after I’ve moved out?? I have to take the receiver with me?? And how do I then get the box when I don’t really have an address and we’ll be traveling for several weeks?

I’m finally told that I can drop the receiver and remote off at a DISH retailer. Okay. The nearest one is now 50 miles away (the one we’d used to set it all up is out of business) but it’s on our way to Dave’s son’s house, where we going for a few days, so we can do it.

Nightmare 5: the retailer can’t take the gear without a box. Yes, we went there and the lady was very nice, but retailers are not allowed to take gear. As a courtesy, they’ll take it with the box and have UPS pick it up from them. But without a box? Forget it.

Dave is so angry he has to leave the store. I am livid, but I realize that this woman is actually trying to help and is the only real person we’ve had contact with. She asks if we can’t have leave the receiver with a friend and have the box sent there. Well, no. You see, we’ve already driven 50 miles. We’re not going back to our old home.

I ask if I can’t leave the equipment with her and have the box sent to her store. No, they refuse to be responsible for it. We discuss this a bit more and she calls some special DISH number that she has and finally gets them to send a box to one of the relatives that we’ll be visiting in two weeks. And she is able to confirm that our receiver is a model that has to be returned.

I’m hoping we get the box . . . stay tuned.

Meanwhile, we have the receiver and remote in the car with us. I’m making room for it by getting rid of a few beers. I’m very, very happy that Barefoot Gal does not a satellite dish!


Do You Find The Boat Galley Useful?

You can support the site when you buy from Amazon by using the links on this site and the search bar below. No extra cost to you!


  1. Wow, that is a nightmare. My husband has been talking about getting rid of cable and going to dish but this has convinced me otherwise. Besides with the amount of afternoon storms we get here in Florida, satellite TV is useless. The money and time you have spent driving and dealing with these bozos, I hope your the amount they would charge you if not returned was worth it!!!

    • We had dish and loved it, but hated paying the bill, so we got rid of it and we pay about 17 per month for netflix and hulu! News from the internet. Saved us a ton of money towards the cruising kitty!

  2. Oh my goodness! However, this isn’t the first time I have heard how difficult it is to cancel this service. I know of someone who continued to be billed monthly for 6 months after they had returned the equipment. Refusing to pay caused a bad report to the credit bureau that they are still dealing with. I wish you luck and a happy ending!

  3. Wow, and we thought Comcast was bad, but they gave us no trouble. We went to their office with their equipment (DVR, controller, remotes and modems) and said we had moved. Bye! No problem.

  4. I had a similar experience when we ended our dish service years ago, but at least I was not moving… I remember the “conversation” about ending the service as a very frustrating time.

    I hope it all ends well!

    P.S. I hope you were able to “make room” successfully….

  5. Paula Swaney says:

    If it were me, I would report the debit / credit card associated with your dish account lost. They are notorious for charging the equipment fee at the same time or before they send the box. They drove my account into a negative balance on the same day they shipped my return box.

    • That’s exactly what I did. I got another debit card with a different number on it, so they couldn’t keep charging me. It’s all BS. I have to climb up and get the eye…considering I’m not supposed to be on ladders due to medication, this should be fun. I also filed a complaint with the BBB.

  6. I had a heck of a time canceling my Mom’s service after her fall. It was still in my dad’s name so I had to produce proof of his death, retrieve equipment that was 200 miles away. Crazy.
    I cancelled mine last month. About to gather all the equipment up to shop back if I can figure out what all these letters on this email mean.

  7. Just wait ’till you find out that you really do have to return the eye from the dish!

  8. Ridiculous isn’t it, and you will receive weekly mail wanting you back as a customer-even before you get the equipment back to them.

  9. What a horrible experience

  10. What a horrible experience

  11. Ruth Duncan says:

    I am dreading having to call Direct TV to cancel our service. I see us going through the same nightmare.

    • Stay with Direct TV…if you call them and say you want to cancel, they will give you a much better price, at least that’s what I found out.

  12. I am truly dreading this task in a few weeks…..

  13. How totally frustrating. I suggest you post this whole experience on DISH’ Facebook page. I expect you will soon get a resolution in your favour. I did this with an internet provider in the UK. It worked!

  14. How totally frustrating. I suggest you post this whole experience on DISH’ Facebook page. I expect you will soon get a resolution in your favour. I did this with an internet provider in the UK. It worked!

  15. Here’s what to expect next based on our near word-for-word identical experience a few years ago.

    You’ll eventually get the stupid box with the magic return paperwork. You send the box to them via UPS exactly as instructed. You diligently save the tracking information for shipping because by now, you’re convinced this company is willing to be dishonest in order to weasel another hundred bucks out of you even though it means they’ll alienate you forever and you’ll never come back to their service again when you’re living back on land. (I guess they feel a bird in hand is worth 10 in the bush and they’d rather steal the hundred bucks from you now than wait for a hundred bucks or more peri the for years.)

    Good thing you saved the tracking info because, sure enough, they bill your credit card for the equipment you supposedly never returned. Getting an actual human to talk to about this is about as easy as getting a liver transplant, since every time you push 7 to talk about that particular problem, their phone connection mysteriously cuts you off. To get a real human, you have to push the number for setting up service and then refuse to be transferred to the “billing errors for canceled accounts department” because if you let them transfer you, you’ll wait on hold 20 minutes and then be cut off.
    You supply the human with the UPS tracking number and the evidence that you did indeed send the stuff back, and they did indeed receive it. You get the fax number and address of the department thT deals with these issues and send a faxed letter explaining the problem and including the tracking info. You send a copy of that letter certified mail return receipt requested so you’ll have the signature of the person who received the UPS tracking proof.

    Two weeks later, nothing has happened. The charges are not reversed. You’re running out of time to contest a charge on your credit card, so you contest the charge. You send the credit card info a copy of your letter to DISH as well as your UPS tracking info. The credit card co agrees with you and the charge is removed.
    Three months later, you get a very snotty letter from a collection agency because you’re apparently a deadbeat slime bag who steals equipment. You write a letter back explaining the situation and including your prior letters and the UPS tracking info. The collection agency stops calling and mailing you threatening letters. You think it’s over.
    Six months later, you get a similar letter from a different collection agency. You spend the two hours time necessary to fight it. Once again, you win.
    Six months later, you receive a near identical letter fr yet a third collection agency. You go through it all again. Meanwhile, you’re also having to send letters and documentation to the big 3 credit reporting agency to get this removed from your credit history and FICO score, but, hey, that only takes about 12 hours work each time you have to do it.
    This continues for literally 3 years until, finally, in a weak moment of desperation, one of you will write a check (because you know now never to give these con artists another credit card number) for whatever amount they want and you Mail it to them just to make this nightmare end.

    But does it end when they cash the check? No! They send you ANOTHER bill for interest and penalties for being three years late. You pay this also, because now you’re just defeated and would send them $100,000 if they would just go away. They cash the check. They send you another, slight larger bill for interest and penalties saying they never received your check for interest and penalties. You send a copy of the cashed check. They send another bill.
    Are you getting the picture?
    Document everything. Take photos of what you put in the box. Take photos of what you send in the letters. If it’s still happening a year from now, pay an attorney $500 to send a volley of sternly worded letters to them. It’s cheaper than any other way of dealing with them, and way better on your psyche.
    Good luck.

  16. We’re dealing with this exact same thing. How hard is it to send a box for crying out loud?!? When I didn’t get it the first time, I asked for an address so I could send it on my own….they refused to give me one. Ridiculous.

  17. RaggedyMan (my boat) says:

    It’s not over yet, and this has to do with your next article. I switched from DIRECT TV to DISH about 10 years ago for better programing and at that time better rates. Year after year the rates climbed to what I consider unacceptable. So about 4 years ago I gave up DISH and had to send there stuff back. Now to the point; I still receive first class junk mail at least twice a month from both. Now I am only a part time cruiser but when I get home there is more junk mail then anything else. I contacted them both and demanded they stop all mailings but to no avail.
    $70 a month richer to invest in my boat: RaggedyMan

  18. I am moving to Europe in two weeks. I am going to call Dish today and make sure I get the box.

  19. I had exactly the same experience with direct tv. I will never have satellite again!!!!!!

  20. Just had the same experience trying to disconnect ours this week. Sounds like it is going to be forever before they go away.

  21. These DISH folks are thieves. Our boat had a KVH system installed which I tried to have hooked up. I took the entry level set up with a promise to get local channels. The entry level DISH program is pay per view, home shopping, and few other worthless channels. When they were unable to provide my local programming. I cancelled. I cancelled within 48 hours of ordering. They said I would I have to pay a $500.00 cancellation fee. After many hours on the phone, I was told that it would be waived. A technique that they use seems to be to escalate your call to another agent who may or may not be there. You call is parked for 45 minutes to an hour until you give up or call back and start the process over again. A month later, I got a bill in mail for 500.00. I called an spent another long time on the phone. It was waived. The following month, they hit my credit card for the $500.00. Again after persistence and about losing my mind, I was able to negotiate it to a 50 dollar fee. Which after all the trouble I was put through I was somehow “happy” to pay. I feel your pain and totally understand. **Just beware your troubles with these folks may not be over.**

  22. Yep, I have heard about this issue before and I think it is terrible. They don’t ask anything when you want it but to stop it you have to give them everything. Sometimes they want proof of who you are when you quit. its just stupid.

  23. Report to the Better Business Bureau also.

  24. Frank Esposito says:

    Social Media…
    I just posted a link to your article on the Dish Facebook page.
    If you embarrass them on “social media” maybe you’ll get a response.
    Twitter, Facebook, YELP etc…
    The’ll get the message and if not you’ll get some satisfaction.

  25. Tried to end service, turned in equipment, paid final bill (was actually marked Final Payment and signed) still received bills for 6 more months, even showed them bill showing Final Payment. They reported me to credit service I got lawyer they stopped harassment, removed credit report, and paid lawyer’s fees.

  26. Frank Esposito says:

    Nope… The link didn’t work.
    So, I sent them a message to your link.
    Good luck.

  27. Great feeling when I canceled Dish 3 years ago and NEVER paid for TV again. Cut the cord is catching on.

  28. This is unbelievable! I would be chewing nails! I’m really glad we have DirecTV. But then, we’ve never had to end service with them, we just take the receiver with us on the boat for our 9 months a year of cruising.

  29. wow. this is awful. Try them on facebook and twitter. see if you can embarrass them

  30. We had DISH installed at our slip well attempted to install never worked, 4″ boxes” later….Same customer service issues and more…… our advise to others is don’t use Dish.

  31. Ridiculous!!

  32. I was getting mad reading this!!

  33. Joanne Peyton says:

    This is great advertising for them. I say post it on facebook in big letters and then do a tweet with a reference to this. You just convinced me to never get the thing.

  34. I too experienced the same nightmare when moving on to my boat. After a length conversation with the customer service representative I was transferred to the Customer Retention Department who attempted to put me through the third degree about transferring service to someone else it was at this point I lost it and began dropping “F” bombs , something I never do, but but I will say the transaction was finalized expeditiously when I turned it personal. If there is a Hell it would be to work in a Dish Network call center.

  35. Oh. DISH. They are horrible, and I never even had them for my cable. But I did work for a large bank in the debit card fraud department, and could not believe how much time we wasted calling customers to verify their “billing” nightmares! Not to mention, many of our customers were unaware of the bogus charges until we called them. Nightmare. Total nightmare.

  36. Yeah I’ll NEVER have Dish again.

  37. We had this experience with direct TV. We now have a tailgator from dish, we own our own equipment and no monthly contract you just pay for the month ahead. If you choose not to they just turn off the service with no fees. When you want it again you just call and pay for, no problems.

  38. This shit is so much easier for us to deal with in Australia. Hope it all works out for you

  39. Eric Hulse says:

    I feel for you guys there. The phone call portion sounded like a transcript of my recent call to Tivo after my wife and I decided to go without Cable after moving. Right down to them quizzing me about anyone I knew who might possibly think about having service and taking on my boxes. Ironically, I’ve had them long enough that I own them. So thankfully I didn’t have to deal with returning equipment.

    Good luck with truly getting everything finalized. That sort of thing while moving is no fun, and I’d imagine it’s even more complicated when moving to the boat.

  40. Linda Bertinasco says:

    I went through similar discussions with DIRECT tv when I stopped service over a year ago. I was told I would receive an envelope to return the card that was in the receiver. Well, I am still waiting for that envelope. No problems with them stopping the billing, no phone calls or mail trying to get me to reconnect. Closing on our house on Monday. So I am just leaving it all for the new owners. The receivers were over 10 years ago and the plan we were on did not exist anymore.

  41. Jonathan says:

    Wow, all time records for number of comments! Please do let us know how this turns out. Will never get satellite!

  42. Our experience was identical! And I’m still not sure we won’t be charged for the equipment.

  43. Gotta love those folks at Dish. Of course I had my experience with them which I will relate and I would never recommend their service.

    I had been using Dish for 6 or more years when I told a friend about the service. He got setup and got everything for 3 months and a DVR for $19.99 a month. By this time I was paying $64 a month for basic and no DVR. OK new customer gets introductory, I get it. Well after a year my friend told them he was done and they could come and get their product – What can we do to stay with us? Give me the same plan! OK we will do that – another 3 months of everything and the rest of the year for $19.99 and the DVR.

    HMM – 7 years of loyal paying to DIsh should be worth something, right? Wrong – No that is only for new customers! OK will cancel my service! I can’t do that sir! OK then get me to someone that can! [transferred] Hello, how can I help you? Please cancel my service! Why? Because I don’t get anything from Dish for my loyalty. Well sir we can…..Just cancel it please, you lost me when the first Rep couldn’t do anything for me! I would like to help yo cancel but cannot as you have a balance owed. OK, how much? $0.02 – 2 cents??? are you Fing kidding me? No sir, once you have paid we can cancel – DO YOU ACCEPT CREDIT CARDS? Yes – OK here we go, and yes I put 2 cents on my card!!

    OK I didn’t need to return anything cause it was so old, I also have a Dish on my house still – some day it will come down. But what really got me was the follow up alls from VIP service Reps – we would like you back. No, no way!

    OK today I use Roku and Chromecast. Roku is great for streaming what I want can Chromecast let’s me send Netflix and YouTube to any TV that I can plus the Chromecast device into – love watching You Tube sailing videos on the 50 inch screen. I can do this anywhere in the world that I have service to my phone – but watch out it can cost a lot if you don’t have the required International plan.

    Hope you get the issue resolved with Dish…. let us know the outcome and have a Mojito on me

  44. Ruth Duncan says:

    I feel sick after reading these. We have already cut off our WIFI because Comcast suddenly decided that our router was out of date. Of course we got no notice of this and POOF our WIFI is gone. They wanted us to buy one of their routers and of course pay some sort of ridiculous MONTHLY fee. We had bought our own router previously to save on the rental fee. We are not going to pay for another router as we are planning to leave in about a month. I think my teenagers are going to revolt. I am at the library typing this now!
    I don’t want to put in a call to DTV quite yet as we still “need” the TV. Ironically enough we were going to keep DTV and cut that to save money. Once we are back on land I won’t be doing satellite for sure. I get just about everything I want from the internet.

    I am not sure if we are still under contract with them at this point. I have worked hard to get my credit into a very good range. If these twits mess it up it will NOT be pretty

    Good luck to all of you. I will be armed and dangerous when the time come to officially turn in my eye!


  45. I just love how all you folks help out with these issues, best of luck to all of you! Gotta love feeling the love…

  46. I agree, try the better business bureau – (find out where company main location is, and complain there). This happened to me with a defective mattress, I got a horrible runaround, until I complained to better business bureau- within 1 day an ACTUAL person from the actual corporate headquarters got back to me and problem resolved within a few emails. This sounds like a NIGHTMARE!!!

  47. Cory Nickerson Sv In the Mood says:

    Wow that’s just terrible. We must have got lucky. We went through the same process selling our house and moving aboard a few months ago and it was quick and painless. Box arrived in two days mailed back and done. Had been a customer for 16 years.

    Glad you got it handled in the end.

    And side comment. Dave is 77???? With I’m 40 years younger and he looks better than me. Ouch.

Add Your Thoughts


Please note: I'm currently cruising and don't have internet all the time. Comment approval may be delayed a few days!