DIRECTV Installation (October 12-20, 2015)

We had never had satellite TV before so we really didn’t know what we were doing.  When we ordered our Mobile Suites, we ordered a Winegard rooftop pop-up satellite dish for DIRECTV since we had read that DIRECTV made getting high definition (HD) reception much easier than with Dish.  Since we didn’t have a home DIRECTV account, the DIRECTV website said we needed to open our DIRECTV account by contacting Winegard.  Other than buying the satellite dish, we didn’t know that we needed any additional hardware.  We learned our mistake when the folks at RVs for Less asked us on our first afternoon if we had our DIRECTV receivers for them to install.  They recommended we order a regular Genie for the living room and, for ease of installation, two wireless mini-Genies for the bedroom TV and the outside entertainment center.

Phil called Winegard Tuesday morning and ordered these receivers.  The Winegard customer service person told us that DIRECTV would charge us a $99 installation fee for a wireless receiver (vs. no additional fee for a wired receiver), even though they wouldn’t do anything more for a wireless installation.  The Winegard rep told Phil she would write the order for two wired mini-Genie receivers but would ship us wireless mini-Genies.  She said that, when it came time for the dealer’s installer to activate the DIRECTV service, we could simply call DIRECTV and they could just change the order without triggering the $99 installation fee.

Phil ordered the receivers from Winegard and had them shipped to the dealer via Fed-Ex two-day delivery at a cost of $25.  Next-day delivery would have cost $70 and, since it was only Tuesday morning, it seemed that the receivers would arrive by Thursday morning.  We would later learn that this was a mistake as the receivers didn’t ship from Winegard until Wednesday and didn’t arrive at the dealer until 3 pm on Friday.  Since we needed to be in Nashville for driving school at 9 am on Saturday morning, our stress levels were running high.

When the Fed-Ex truck finally arrived, Kennedy, the RVs for Less technical installer, got right to work installing the equipment.  The installation went pretty well but required a quick run to Walmart to get a splitter. We also learned that we would need a couple of power strips.  Fortunately we had packed a couple of power strips in the boxes that were still in our Nashville storage unit.

Once it came time to activate the installation, we ran into a major snag.  The Winegard rep was able to walk Phil through activation of the TV in the living room with some difficulty (mostly due to confusion as to whether Phil was supposed to be pushing buttons on the TV remote or the DIRECTV remote).  However, when it came time to try to activate the two wireless receivers, things went very badly.  The DIRECTV rep couldn’t activate the two receivers because the hardware didn’t match what was ordered.  Despite Winegard’s assurance that DIRECTV could simply change the order to reflect the wireless receivers, the DIRECTV rep insisted that they couldn’t change the order.  After Phil had multiple phone calls with both Winegard and DIRECTV reps, the two parties finally decided to have a conference call to find a solution.  Ultimately, Phil heard back from Winegard confirming that they would need to correct the original order.  Since it was the end of the workday on Friday and we needed to leave for Nashville, Phil suggested that they resume the effort on the following Monday.

Fortunately, the campground in Nashville had cable TV so we were able to watch the Cubs games that weekend even without the satellite (after a quick run to Walmart to buy a 50’ cable).

Phil heard back from the Winegard rep on Monday morning.  She informed him that we would be charged a $149 fee that included the $99 installation fee and a $50 change fee.  Due to Winegard’s role in necessitating the required change, they offered to rebate us the $50 change fee.

On Monday afternoon we had a lot of family visit our campsite in Nashville so final DIRECTV activation was delayed until Tuesday morning.  On Tuesday morning Phil reconnected with the Winegard rep and attempted to activate the two mini-Genie receivers.  We managed to connect the bedroom TV through trail-and-error (and Jan’s reading of the messages on the TV) more than from the guidance received from the Winegard rep.  Phil decided he could complete the activation of the outside TV on his own by replicating what had worked on the bedroom TV.

This is when we learned the difference between wireless remotes and radio frequency remotes.  It turned out that, for the wireless remote to work, we had to have a direct line of sight between the remote and the receiver.  Although that did necessitate opening the door to the containing the receiver for the remote to work, it was workable cabinets in the living room or bedroom.  There was not an easy solution for the outside TV since the receiver had been installed inside a cabinet by the kitchen table.  Phil completed this activation by standing in front of the outside TV and instructing Jan by cell phone step-by-step as to what buttons she needed to push on the DIRECTV remote.  Since he was convinced that there must be an easier solution, Phil called Winegard again but they confirmed that there must be a direct line of vision between the remote and the receiver. As crazy as this was, it worked and we managed to have satellite TV reception on all three TVs.

Later on, Phil came up with a jerry-rigged solution for the outside TV.  He found that the DIRECTV receiver had a long enough power cord that he can pull it out of the dining room cabinet and put it on top of the breadbox by the dining room window.  Now, when standing by the outside TV and pointing the remote toward the dining room window, the remote is able to control the DIRECTV receiver.  It’s not ideal but a lot better than having to run in and out of the RV to change the channels.

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