What’s going on with DIRECTV’s $100 credit? Problems, explanations, and a possible solution

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On January 14th I published what appeared to be a fantastic deal for DIRECTV customers with Amex business cards: $100 free for DIRECTV customers!  The basic deal was this: you had to register your Amex business card for this promo by 1/31/2015 (Saturday) and use the card to pay $100 or more to your DIRECTV bill by 3/31/15.  If you have multiple Amex business cards (including employee cards), you could register all of them and each would qualify for the statement credit.  The promo was supposedly just for DIRECTV for Business, but it was found to work for personal DIRECTV accounts as well. 

There was a lot of initial excitement about the post, until things got weird…

I did put a caution in the original post.  I wrote:

You cannot prepay more than $100

Eric tried using multiple registered Amex cards to prepay his DIRECTV service far in advance. Unfortunately, after the first $100, Eric’s payments were reversed out.  So your best bet is to use registered Amex cards to pay your bill in January, February, and March, but don’t try to prepay more than $100 at a time.

Then… many readers reported similar reversals. I’m not sure whether people missed the above warning or whether the reversals happen when you have any negative balance.  Let’s look at some reader comments from the prior post.  I’ve bolded some key terms and truncated many comments:

Simon wrote:

I got a call from DirectTV just now telling me there was a reversal on the account of $100. I logged in, and my account is $0.00 balance…

marshdom wrote:

Unfortunately, now both of my $100 payments have been reversed – at least according to my Directv online account. The second reversal apparently occurred 2 days ago, but has not shown up on my online AMEX account yet (nor has the one $100 credit I received been reversed – but I assume that will happen when the charge gets reversed). I guess if this is going to work at all … it’s either going to be a big YMMV … or maybe/hopefully it will still work for making one-time payments against a positive account balance (that can be paid down with a one-time AMEX payment) … I have turned off my auto-payment for now, in hopes that I’ll be able to at least take advantage of $100 or $200 before March 31st.

Ladybug wrote:

It happened to us! We had a zero balance. Went in to prepay $100 on 1/20. Immediately Amex congratulated us, posted the credit w/in 24 hours, the charge went through. Then on 1/21 directv posted our bill which was 103.75, so they charge the remaining on the card on file for automatic payment. On 1/23 someone fr[om] directv called my husband and asked why WE [called] our credit card company and reversed out our $100 payment, which of course we did not!

bob wrote:

VERY similar thing happened to me. A Directv agent called and was incredibly rude saying I had reversed charges and was just not very pleasant at all. Initially I had used 3 different cards and paid $100 each and got the $100 back a couple days later with no issue. I called American Express and they said that there was zero issue on their end and that this was a Directv deal NOT an American Express deal. Long story short, I think that it is Directv that is rejecting the payments, not American Express and then Directv is calling people and saying that the charges were reversed……what a pain

Explanations

I don’t have DIRECTV myself so I can’t experiment with this, but I found a few reader comments illuminative:

E wrote:

The payment page clearly says the max credit balance for an account is $100…

Kent wrote:

DTV billing methodology is really unconventional and whacked. I think it is now run by Skynet. Even the reps I spoke to don’t seem to truly understand how it works – and this is not even talking about the $100 promo.

You are billed for current purchases such as movies, etc immediately (show as $$ owed on your account page) but are not billed for monthly charges such as service until your statement “print date” and those charges are for a future period not for the current period which ended on your bill “due date”. Your bill due date and print date are related but different. What you owe for service cannot be viewed until your bill print date which is after your bill due date. You will still see $0 for service charges on your bill due date even though it is due. Charges will only show on the bill print date. This is confusing me even as I write it. If anyone else has figured this all out, please explain. I spoke to 5 reps who couldn’t coherently do it, but I will say they tried at least. Nice people they are. If you are a masochist, please call the DTV billing dept today.

With all that being said, I believe DTV is regurgitating these overpayments and the reps are clueless. Why would AE reject a formerly approved payment to DTV on an AE card if you have the credit line to pay for it? They might refuse the $100 rebate credit but there would be no logical reason (I can think of) where they would initiate a charge reversal. I mean if I’m AE, let the customer pay for the $100 if they want to, and we’ll just not issue the credit. Then again what the hell do I know.

A possible solution

I don’t know if this will really work, but it seems plausible to me:

Fargus wrote:

The reversal problem happens only if the $100 payment makes your balance negative. To solve it, buy movies until your current bill exceeds $100. For example, if your monthly bill is $89, charge $11+ in movies, then pay. Problem solved!

If you go this path, I think it makes sense to also turn off automatic payments for the time being.

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