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Direct T.V. / unfair business practices

1 United States

My husband and I moved to this new area about 8 months ago. We had Direct T.V. for many years prior to moving to our new home. We decided to get service with Direct T.V. again. We have had service with them for the past 8 months and have received numerous mailings promising local channels and that we could bundle our internet (currently with Comcast) with Verizon since they have some sort of relationship with them. My husband called and requested local channels with Direct T.V. and after many weeks we finally received a letter in the mail stating that they were not available. We had to watch the olympics on the internet and since the economy has been so tight I need to get local channels to see the local grocery store sales. We also contacted Direct T.V. and requested that we get the internet bundled promotion to save $$ and have a combined bill in which they told us that the specific program was not available in our area. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that this is FALSE ADVERTISMENT!!! So, my husband and I received a great offer in the mail from Comcast to bundle our cable and internet and save $50 a month so we decided to change our service. I called Direct T.V. to cancell our service and the representative informed me that I had a two year contract with them and was cutting the contract short by 18 months. She then informs me that there is a $366 cancellation fee. I expressed that no one ever told me that there was a two year contract. She told me that their contract was written on their website. She also stated that the installer should have told me there was a two-year contract and that if I had refused that he would have never installed the service to begin with. I expressed to the lady that the installer never told me about the two-year contract and I asked her what normal individual just goes to a companies website to look up their contract. I'm a college educated woman and I can honestly say that I don't run to the internet and read a companies contract everytime I do business. I rely and trust the companies representatives to explain things to me. Then the Direct T.V. woman starts reading me this cue card and in her statement she says that any cancellation fees will be billed to my credit card. I immediately told the lady to put a note on my account that I am NOT AUTHORIZING Direct T.V. to charge my credit card. She states that she made a not on my account. Well a few weeks go by and I receive two Direct T.V. bills stating that I owe $0 dollars, one bill even shows a $12 credit. The next thing I know I am looking at my online banking and see a Direct T.V. debit for $366 which throws my account into overdraft. I immediately called Direct T.V. and explained the situation and the lady Marsha that I spoke with even verified to me on the phone that I had NOT AUTHORIZED Direct T.V. to charge my credit card and the fact that I stated that I was not going to pay the $366 cancellation fee. The sad thing is, Marsha stated that there was nothing that she could do about the situation and that she was the last call stop for the consumer. How you dispute something with them is once you get to her department, they take the notes you tell them and type them on your account, they then pass this on to their billing department who I was told would give me a call. Well, after two weeks I get this generic email from Direct T.V. stating that I had signed a contract with the dish installer and was cancelling the contract 18 months early and that I was responsible for the $366 and that if I had any questions, I could call Direct T.V. (I am thinking in my head, all they did was send me an email about the same conversation that I had already had with Marsha and they were telling me the same thing that the first lady I spoke with when I called to cancell their service told me. I'm also thinking to myself that if I call them again it's not like I'm going to get to talk with the billing department directly, I'm gonna have to put in some sort of another request). So, I decided to go to my bank and file fraudulent charges concerning the debit. I explained to my bank that I specifically told Direct T.V. that they were NOT AUTHORIZED to debit my debit card. The $366 had since been refunded to my account. I have not heard anything from Direct T.V. as of yet, but am sure that they will send it to a creditor service agency and will make me pay the fee or else my 700+ credit score will suffer. I DO NOT think what they are doing is fair business practices and now come to think of it, they ask you for a debit card over the phone to get the installer to come out to your home and they call this $100 fee an installation fee. I believe they ask you for the card so that they can put it on file and if you decide to cancel your service they just come at you with some bologne that you knew there was a contract and that their contract can be found on their website (which I must say is EXTREMELY legally written to benefit their company, I have been in the insurance business since college and believe that insurance companies treat their clients better than Direct T.V.) My best advice to people out there is that if you are caught by surprise like I was about a cancellation fee when you call, ask the Direct T.V. Representative to put a mandated note on your account that you are NOT AUTHORIZING them to debit your account, then if the debit shows up, go to your local bank and tell them that the transaction was not authorized and have them refund your money...this is what I did. I know that I will have to face consequences with Direct T.V. billing me now for the $366 and probably turning it over to collections without billing me to try and ruin my GREAT CREDIT that takes a lifetime to build and one crappy company like Direct T.V. to ruin it. But, I have slept better this last week because I feel like I showed Direct T.V. who's in charge of MY CHECKING ACCOUNT. I don't know what else to do about Direct T.V., but are currently looking for ways to complain to our government and regulators about their unfair, unregulated, and untrustworthy business practices. If there is a two-year agreement, I feel Direct T.V.'s installers should be trained on how to sit down with you in your home and explain to you in lamens terms that you are signing a two-year contract (I have to do that when I sell insurance contracts), instead of sending some sweaty, over-worked and under-paid installer to you home who may or may not speak good English to install your satellite and he's rushing out the door so fast because he's got 2 or 3 more work orders after you and it's already after lunchtime!

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