UPDATED: Why does DIRECTV ask you to return receivers (and why do they sometimes let you keep them?)

Really, a win-win. When you get a new receiver or DVR from Solid Signal and you deactivate an old one, you will generally get what DIRECTV calls a “Recovery Kit.” Most of the time this is an empty box, into which you put your old receiver so you can send it back. This is actually good for you and good for AT&T.

AT&T does refurbish some receivers. Honestly, these receivers are built to last and after an extensive testing process and sometimes a new plastic outer case, they’re put back into service. This is a win for AT&T because it cuts down on new receiver costs, and it’s really a win for you too because higher costs to AT&T equal higher bills.

There are other benefits, too. In many states, you can’t just throw out something electronic; it has to be responsibly recycled. In California, the state actually holds retailers responsible for accepting electronic waste and allows them to charge a small recovery fee if they have a physical store located in the state. So AT&T does make it easier for you… you don’t have to take your old receiver somewhere for recycling. You can just schedule a pickup and leave it for the delivery person to pick up.

There’s another scenario: if you have a really old receiver (like, for example, an HR20 DVR) AT&T may tell you they don’t want it back. This is because the receiver is so old that it’s no longer being refurbished. In that case, they may still send a return envelope for the access card. You’re free at that point to recycle the receiver or sell it for fair market value (although fair market value for old receivers is pretty low.)

Which receivers will they ask for?

This is a constantly changing list but as of late 2018, the only receivers they usually you to return are:

  • H24
  • H25
  • HR24
  • HR44
  • HR54
  • HS17 Genie 2
  • Genie Clients

Those are the only receivers that are going back out into service so anything else should be responsibly recycled according to your state and local laws.

What if they say they want it back, but that recovery kit never shows up?

Unfortunately this does happen. Personally I wait two months between the time that I activate a new receiver and the time I recycle the old one. If I am expecting a recovery kit and nothing shows up, I will call after two months and confirm that something was sent.  Usually at that point the person I talk to can either make sure the kit went out or let me know the receiver doesn’t need to come back. Sometimes they can send another recovery kit. I mean honestly it’s just an empty box.

What if you really want to keep it and they tell you you can’t?

I’m not quite sure why you would want an old receiver around if you’re not going to use it. Perhaps you were thinking you could put it in a second home and activate it another time, or perhaps you were thinking that you could give it to a friend. The thing is, though, the receiver is leased and so it’s not really yours to give. That’s how they get away with asking for it back.

Looking to upgrade your DIRECTV system?

If you’re thinking about changing out that older DIRECTV receiver for a newer, cooler model, call the experts at Solid Signal at 888-233-7563. They can help you figure out what you need and even find out if you can get the whole upgrade for free!

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.