The three large maple trees in Brian Liedtke's front yard have been an issue since the day he signed up for DirecTV.
The installer told Liedtke the dish could not go on the roof of his Willowbrook house because the trees would block the satellite signal.
So he placed it on Liedtke's garage.
In the two years that followed, Liedtke's signal went out every time bad weather rumbled through, he said.
Sometimes he was without service for hours. Other times it lasted longer.
In calls to DirecTV, he was instructed to perform a laundry list of classic help-desk fixes: Turn the DVR box off and back on. Unplug the unit for 30 seconds. Take out the access card, then put it back in.
"All those suggestions over the course of a couple calls worked," Liedtke said.
As time went on, reception deteriorated, he said. "I was able to get standard-definition channels no problem, but many high-definition channels wouldn't come in," he said.
Upset, Liedtke called DirecTV on Jan. 3, intent on canceling his service. His initial two-year agreement with the satellite provider was scheduled to end in late February, and he thought it was a good time to quit.
The DirecTV representative told him there was no need to cancel. She guaranteed the company could get his service working properly, he said.
To sweeten the deal, the representative told him that DirecTV would match AT&T's prices, he said.
"I said, 'I'm hesitant to sign another two-year agreement because of my service issues,'" Liedtke said.
The representative told him she would send out a technician to fix everything, he said.
The next day, a tech arrived and said everything looked fine. Liedtke was given new, upgraded equipment and assurances that his service would be spectacular, he said.
Within a week, he began to experience the same problems with his signal, Liedtke said.
On Jan. 25, another technician came out and replaced several pieces of equipment, including his dish, he said.
That didn't work either, so Liedtke called again and asked to cancel.
"Now DirecTV won't cancel my contract or let me out of this agreement and is threatening to charge me a termination fee of $480 to leave," he said. "I feel they misled me with their sales promotions when trying to keep me as a customer, and they have failed in their agreement to provide reliable service."
Fed up, he emailed What's Your Problem?