Product Rating: 4.5
The second and only other Satellite TV provider in the United States is Dish Network. Previously we did a review of DirecTV and today we will be taking a long and detailed look at Dish. If you are considering satellite over cable then these two companies are your only choices. Choosing between the two can be very difficult and it's generally a good idea to check out a Dish Network vs. DirecTV Comparison to better understand the confusing differences between the two services. Dish Network is the smaller of the two companies with just over 14 million subscribers as of writing this post, while Direct TV has over 20 million subscribers. Despite a smaller subscriber base Dish services are very comparable and the choice between the two companies comes down to choosing the one that is cheaper while also meeting your viewing wants and needs.
What Is Dish Network?
Dish Network is a nationwide U.S. based satellite TV service provider that is available to nearly all residents across the country. They do not provide any international services. The company has over 14 million subscribers, coming in as the second largest and only other satellite service provider in the country.
How Much Does The Service Cost?
The price for service varies greatly depending on which programming package you choose but it is generally thought to be cheaper than DirecTV. Although this is partially true it is certainly not the whole truth. Dish offers the cheapest introductory package at just $19.99 per month, which is nice for those just looking for basic TV. However, this is a bare bones package that includes only 40 channels. On a sliding scale up from here their packages are cheaper than DirecTV but generally with the cheaper price comes a few less programming options. Also, Dish does not build local channels into their packages and often charges an extra fee for these. If you don't want local channels this is a better deal, however if you do, then it actually makes Dish more. They also charge a couple dollars more per month for extra receivers than does DirecTV.
Signing an 18-24 month contract gets you a significant discount for the first year of service. For the first year you can get the first or second tier packages for just $19.99, and prices range all the way up to $89.99. This top package includes over 320 channels and free access to all premium movie channels. For the second year of your contract the price goes up to the standard rate. The normal rates range from $19.99 at the lowest to $124.99 for the top package of 320+ channels. One thing Dish does allow for is signup without a contract, whereas DirecTV requires all customer to sign a 12-24 month contract. Getting month-to-month service can be great for some but it does not allow for any special discounts and also requires that you pay an installation fee.
How Much Does Installation And Equipment Cost?
Getting satellite TV means that you will need a satellite dish that will be attached to the outside of your home, along with a digital receiver for each room that you want to watch TV in. Dish offers a free satellite dish and free professional installation to anyone that signs a 24 month service contract. For shorter contracts you may be required to pay for equipment and installation. For month-to-month contracts you will be required to pay for the satellite dish and all installation fees. These fees vary widely so you need to check directly with dish to see what you will have to pay if you choose not to go with a standard 2 year contract.
What Add On Packages Are Available And How Much Do They Cost?
Dish Network offers a bunch of various add on packages that individuals can subscribe to based on their personal preferences. Some of these packages are automatically included with the more expense programming packages. If not included they can be added for a monthly fee. For those interested in one or two specific add-on packages it may be best to subscriber to a cheaper plan and add what you're looking for. However, for those that plan to add a bunch of different movie or sports packages, it's usually cheaper to simply upgrade to a higher tiered preset package. One drawback to Dish Network is that they usually provide local channels as an add-on that costs $5 per month, something that generally comes for free with most TV service providers.
When you sign a new contract with Dish you get free movie channels for the first three months. After three months the monthly cost for Cinemax, Starz, or ShowTime is $14.00 each per month. For HBO they charge $19.00 per month. They also offer a wide range of A La Carte options including an outdoor sports package, Epix package, Encore movie pack, the Heartland package, Al Jazeera America, Verla, and more. These packages range from $4-$7 per month. Other more expensive A La Carte options include Fox Soccer Plus for $15 per month, the Playboy channel for $16.00 per month, and Race Track TV for horse racing for $50.00 per month. Beyond these they also offer a large selection of International packages that can be added for various monthly fees.
How Much Does A DVR Cost?
The device itself is generally free as long as you are agreeing to a two year contract. Often times Dish will run specials where you get the first several months of DVR service for free and then they charge a monthly fee for the rest of the time that you use their services. Generally this fee ranges from about $7-$25 depending on which DVR you choose, and how many you want. You will need a DVR for each TV unless you choose their top-of-the-line Hopper DVR that works with multiple TVs as once (mini Joey receiver required).
How Many HD Channels do they have?
Currently Dish is a little bit behind DirecTV in their offering of HDTV but not that far really. They have made great strides in the last several years to catch up and are getting close. They openly state that they have over 200 HD channels but further research shows that this isn't quite true. Yes, they have over 200 channels but some of these channels do no broadcast HD full-time where as DirecTV has over 195 channels that are fully HD compliant 100% of the time. Even with the part-time channels they are still far and away ahead of the majority of cable companies with their high-definition offerings. In the past they have charged for HD but currently they are offering free HD for 24 months when you sign a contract.
Do They Require All Customers To Sign A Contract?
No. One unique feature that Dish offeres is the ability to get month-to-month service. This can be a good deal for those that might be moving soon, but for those that are going to stay put a contract is generally better. With month-to-month service you will not get free equipment or installation, and you will not get the first year discounted prices on your monthly bill.
What Type Of Picture Quality Do Subscribers Get?
All channels are broadcast in a high quality 100% digital signal. Along with all digital, a large portion of their channels are in HD as long as you request an HD receiver.
Will They Check My Credit If I Am A New Subscriber?
Yes, they run a credit check on any new customers or current customers that are looking to renew their contract. Since they invest a lot of money upfront in providing free equipment and installation they require a certain credit score rating in order to be sure that you will be able to pay your monthly usage charges.
Does Dish Offer Any Other Services Outside Of Satellite TV?
Currently they only offer satellite TV. From time to time they have special offers with partners in the Internet and telephone industry that allow you to package your services together to further reduce prices.
Are There Any Issues With The That Current Or Former Consumers May Have Experienced?
Generally users should be aware that a 24 month contract will come with a early termination fee if they want to cancel it before the full two years is up. Generally this is $20 per month for the number of months remaining on the contract. Consumer should not plan on getting out without paying the fee, and don't let any customer service rep tell you otherwise. If it's in writing that they can charge you an ETF they will do it, end of story. If you do move you however can take your service with you to your new address to avoid the cancellation fee. There are very few instances where you can get out without a fee, with the only regular one being if you move somewhere where they do not offer satellite TV service. Again, do not assume anything you are told, and if you are told anything by an employee of Dish be sure to get it in writing. If it's not in writing, don't expect it to hold up.
Dishnetwork customer service is known for being very good and very similar to that of DirecTV and the average cable provider. Both companies claim they are rated #1 in customer service so it's hard to tell. When signing up for service or calling for billing or technical support be prepared. They run a typical call center with low pay, low energy, and low enthusiasm workers who have been taking calls all day long day after day. You should be able to get any issues resolved, it just might take a little more effort on your side of things when calling.
Finally, as far as complaints go, the web is flooded with them. They are everywhere, and it's often hard to find the stories about satisfied customers. It's not the happy ones that usually go and leave reviews, it's the angry and unsatisfied customers. The bottom line is that Dish provides very adequate customer service and when you have over 14 million subscribers you're bound to have complaints and it's downright impossible to keep everyone happy. As a percentage however, complaints are extremely low
Do You Have Any Reviews, Good Or Bad From Current And Former Customers?
Yes, we have had various reviews submitted via email and some of them have been included here for your convenience.
'I just spent the week from hell trying to get my Dish set up. Although the people at the store were very nice they new little about Dish. They could not answer my questions about On Demand and special channel options, this should have been a clue.
When the techs came to install Dish network it took over 4 1/2 hours and they were all over my house creating a giant mess! Just as I was about to sign off on the install papers I asked about how my On Demand worked and I was informed I would have no On Demand services. I told the techs that I had been promised at the store that I would have On Demand. Needless to say I did not sign the install agreement.
I spent the following week trying to get get my service to work correctly, during which time I had no TV even though the tech promised to be back the next day to fix it. Warning -- they lie, the techs, customer service reps, account set up reps. Anything to get you to sign the Dish contract and lock you into a two year plan.
I will not torture you with the rest of the horrible details but I did get out of the contract only because I did not sign the install agreement. However they still have not come to remove the dish from my roof. They say it is mine now but I don't want it. I am still trying to get them to remove it but I will wait to see if that happens.
My words of advice, if you are thinking about switching do not do it!!! Dish Network is a pain and their customer service is the bad."
"I just recently had Dish installed at my home and also in my son's home. We have had nothing but trouble at both addresses. First, they lied to me about getting a specific channel. I asked about it right off in there sales pitch and the guy said they had the channel (cbc windsor station) In fact, he got all excited and said "oh, I know exactly what channel your'e talking about".
I also setup auto pay, so we could get the $100.00 visa card they offer. When doing this I asked what exact date the withdrawal would be and was told it would be the 6 or 7th of the month, my spoken concern was for it not be before that time because social security is posted on the 3rd of month and wanted it there a few days before Dish took there payments out. I received my bill summary along with my customer agreement today stating they will be taking payments on or about the third of the month,
When I asked about cancellation time they said we had 24 hours after installation to cancel, but iI do not see that anywhere on the install papers.I am prepared to contact the attorney generals office on this matter and I will pursue it with the BBB also. I just read an article where a guy from New York contacted his senator and Dish suddenly decided to let him out of his contract. It may not do me any good but I'm prepared to go to all those levels if I have to. They may not let me out but they will know that I'm a dissatisfied customer for the next 24 months and anyone I come in contact will know what they have done to me"Tara said...
"It's great to see so many negative reviews against Dish. I signed up with them for 12 months (was never told I was signing a 2 year contract) and the "get you to sign up price" would only last the first 12 months.
Within these first 12 months I had several billing issues with this company. Bogus charges, over charges for services not received, etc (I think enough people have expressed these same issues). I called on my 13 month to see if there is anything they can do for me as a continuing customer (since they are offering a REALLY low offer to new customers) and looooooong story short - there is NOTHING they can do, and if I want to cancel my service? $20/month for every month left on the contract...so $200 to cancel?? Wow. I'm speechless."