Consolidated Smart Systems service / unauthorized charges
I live in a loft downtown and apparently the building has contracted with DirecTV to be the sole provider of television services. Honestly, had I known this prior to moving in I would've reconsidered my decision on this place because I've always heard of complaints against DirecTV in general. However, I was already in the place and I am definitely a TV junkie so I had to get all the channels possible. As I'm signing up for DirecTV in February 2008, I learn that they actually have another company contracting to maintain the lines locally, Consolidated Smart Systems. So not only do I pay DirecTV I also pay CSS for services monthly. Initially, I was told I would have to pay CSS $9.95 a month which of course would be auto-debited from my checking account (red flag!!!). So imagine my surprise when my service is disconnected by CSS because I had an outstanding balance of $85 (it had only been 3 full months of service). After speaking with customer service I learn that they allegedly had not been able to draft from my account previously so I am being charged the $50 reconnection fee in addition to the $9.95 a month, which after going back over my statements was odd because I had the funds available during each of the months. The representative tells me that I have been subsequently switched to some new thing where I am going to be charged $18 every 3 months (i.e. $6 a month). I'm okay with this until the next month (July) my account is debited $72, in August it is debited $50 Obviously, this is not correct and when I call again the representative gives me some excuses and says that she will file the paperwork for a refund. This was back in August (2008) and as of today, December 4, 2008, I still have not received a refund. Instead, I'm still getting charged randomly ($18 in September).
When the time comes for me to move I will be looking for places that actually allow competition so I can choose my own provider. If anyone else is having problems with this sort of monopoly of satellite/cable services in their complex you can contact FCC.gov, because they are currently reviewing these sort of arrangements, "FCC Initiates Rulemaking to EvaluateAccess to Multiple Dwelling Unitsfor Video Providers".