I continue to hear from unhappy baseball fans in the St. Louis area that have been unable to see selected St. Louis Cardinals games in 2011. As they are already painfully aware, AT&T U-Verse headlines a small group of providers not picking up 20 of the 152 Cardinals games carried on FOX Sports Midwest this season.
The sixth and seventh of the 20 contests in dispute occurred the last two days as both Sunday’s finale from Atlanta and Monday’s Marlins series opener at Busch Stadium were not carried on those systems.
As the standoff moves into its second month and more games are missed, a resolution satisfactory to customers seems more remote.
The heat will surely increase in ten days as two of the three important Cardinals-Reds contests in Cincinnati on Friday, May 13 and Sunday, May 15 are next on the list of excluded contests. (For the complete list of affected games, click here.)
As is seemingly always the case with all these types of problems, the root issue is money.
In 2011, FOX Sports Midwest picked up the 20 Cardinals games previously carried by KSDK Channel 5. Due to production costs and rights fees associated with the increased number of televised contests, FOX Midwest raised their price charged to cable and satellite providers accordingly.
Most systems agreed, representing 95 percent of customers in FOX Sports Midwest’s footprint. The others, including AT&T U-Verse, balked, leaving those Cardinals fans in their wake. (Click here for both lists – those providers carrying all 152 and those picking up 132 games only.)
I have learned that some frustrated Cardinals fans were successful in seeking relief from AT&T last month. Though it does not return the missing telecasts, it does raise awareness and perhaps increases the pressure level, while at least salving the wound for those unable to view games due to the dispute.
Options reportedly offered customers threatening to cancel service include reduction in phone, internet and or/cable bills for six to 12 months, account credits, faster internet service, no-charge high-definition premium channels and free movie channel packages.
These offers seem to differ by the services the customer already has and with whom the customer speaks. A number of those who have been successful suggest calling AT&T U-Verse Tier two customer retention directly at 1-877-377-0414 as satisfaction with the first level of support personnel was not always achieved.
Obviously, your mileage may vary, but if you are an unhappy AT&T U-Verse customer and want to take action, you have an option short of switching providers.