DirecTV Stream’s cancellation policy is a total mess now

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Convenient online cancellation has always been one of cord cutting’s greatest perks. Whether you’re cancelling Netflix, Hulu, YouTube TV, or Philo, you never have to pick up the phone or deal with annoying customer service representatives 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 though an online chat, while some existing customers must call a customer service number to cancel. Easy online cancellation only remains available for some legacy subscribers and for customers in New York and California, where state laws require fewer hoops to jump through.

It didn’t used to be this way. Back when the service was called DirecTV Now, any customer could cancel online just by clicking 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’s focused on pay TV bundles, it’s fallen back onto sleazy satellite TV tactics to retain subscribers.

How do you cancel DirecTV Stream now?

Nick Ammazzalorso, a DirecTV spokesman, wouldn’t say exactly when DirecTV Stream dropped its one-click cancellation option for new subscribers, but noted that the service rebranded from AT&T TV on August 26. That’s likely when the company changed its policies. (I only discovered the change after hearing from a reader who had trouble cancelling his service.)

If you signed up online for either AT&T TV or DirecTV Stream, heading to DirecTV’s account management page and clicking the “Cancel my subscription” link now leads to a pop-up, where you must click a “Chat to cancel” button. This launches an online chat session where you must submit your request to a DirecTV agent.

directvcancel3 Jared Newman / IDG

For new subscribers, cancelling service requires an online chat session.

I confirmed this myself by creating a new DirecTV Stream account and immediately attempting to cancel. The representative, Kevin, asked for an explanation, and when I said that I didn’t want the service, he asked for more specifics. When I reiterated that I just wasn’t interested, he relented, but still made me type in my email address and mailing address to confirm the cancellation. While the interaction didn’t take long, it was a hassle compared to other streaming services.

Some customers will instead have to cancel by phone, but what exactly triggers this requirement is unclear. Ammazzalorso said it applies to customers who signed up in an AT&T store, but I’ve heard from one 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 its menu system (800-531-5000), with the former going to an AT&T system instead of a DirecTV one. But either way, you’ll have to wade through an automated answering system to reach a representative, who will then ask for an explanation before letting you cancel.

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