DirecTV Stream’s cancellation policy is a total disaster now

Convenient online cancellation has always been one of the biggest advantages of cable cutting. Whether you cancel Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, or Philo, you’ll never have to pick up the phone or deal with annoying customer service reps to get rid of your service.

DirecTV Stream, formerly known as AT&T TV, AT&T Now, and DirecTV Now, has become the exception. In recent weeks, DirecTV quietly changed its policies so that most new customers can only stop service through online chat, while some existing customers must call a customer service number to cancel. Easy online cancellation only remains available to some legacy subscribers and to customers in New York and California, where state laws require fewer hoops to jump.

It didn’t used to be like that. When the service was called DirecTV Now, any customer could cancel online with the click of a button, and that practice continued for several years as the service went through numerous name changes. But now that AT&T has spun off DirecTV into a separate company that focuses on pay-TV packages, it has resorted to shoddy satellite TV tactics to retain subscribers.

How do you cancel DirecTV Stream now?

Nick Ammazzalorso, a spokesperson for DirecTV, did not say exactly when DirecTV Stream removed its one-click cancel option for new subscribers, but noted that the service changed its name to AT&T TV on August 26. This is likely when the company changes its policies. (I only discovered the change after hearing from a reader who had trouble canceling their service.)

If you signed up online for AT&T TV or DirecTV Stream, go to DirecTV account management page and clicking the “Cancel my subscription” link now leads to a pop-up window, where you need to click the “Chat to cancel” button. This starts an online chat session where you must send your request to a DirecTV agent.

directvcancel3 Jared Newman / IDG

For new subscribers, canceling the service requires an online chat session.

I confirmed this myself by creating a new DirecTV Stream account and immediately tried to cancel it. The rep, Kevin, asked for an explanation and when I told him I didn’t want the service, he asked for more details. When I reiterated that I was simply not interested, he relented, but still made me write my email address and postal address to confirm the cancellation. While the interaction didn’t take long, it was a hassle compared to other streaming services.

Instead, some customers will have to cancel over the phone, but what exactly triggers this requirement is unclear. Ammazzalorso said it applies to customers who signed up at an AT&T store, but I heard from a customer who signed up online and still received a phone number to call instead of an online chat option.

Ammazzalorso also gave me a different number for customers to call (800-288-2020) than the one DirecTV lists in their menu system (800-531-5000), and the former goes to an AT&T system instead of one. by DirecTV. But either way, you’ll have to go through an automated answering system to reach a representative, who will then ask you for an explanation before allowing you to cancel.

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