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Direct TV / fraudulent marketing

1 United States

In the first quarter of 2008, I received 3 phone calls from DirecTV stating that I had to change my High Definition Receiver (HD Rcvr) or else I would risk losing my HD television services. I did not want to change receivers as I owned my own rcvr but was told the change would be at no further obligation or cost to me, even though I would have to lease the receiver and give up the one I owned. However, not wanting to lose my services, I finally relented. After authorizing the order, I inquired at DirecTV about getting an HD Rcvr with Direct Video Recorder (HD/DVR Rcvr) under the same conditions and terms as the HD Rcvr. Those terms were at no further cost or obligation. I was told that I could get the same terms and conditions if I paid a fee of $66.33. I asked the representative no less than 4 times during the call about ensuring the terms and each time those terms were at and I quote “no further cost or obligation beyond the fee of $66.33 and the monthly lease fee”.

My new HD/DVR Rcvr was installed in March of 2008. When my first billing (April statement) arrived after the order, DirecTV had billed me the $66.33 fee and a handling charge of $19.95 at which time I called an requested they remove the charge as the arrangement was at “no further cost or obligation” and DirecTV acknowledge the terms and removed the charge. My account was credited for the handling fee under the “no further cost or obligation”.

I was forced to move in August and at my new location, DirecTV was not a feasible option. When I requested DirecTV to cancel my account, DirecTV billed me an early termination fee of $360.00. You can imagine my shock and disbelief as this fee was certainly not discussed by DirecTV staff. In fact it contradicts the “no further cost or obligation” terms I agreed to and DirecTV affirmed when they removed the handling charge from my account on my May statement.

I made more than 8 phone call s to DirecTV and sent about 12 emails requesting DirecTV remove the charge from my account. In each of my communications to DirecTV, I ask them to remove the charge per the agreement which was made in March. Their standard response was the fee is valid and cannot remove the charge and that the representatives cannot change the DirecTV service terms which is posted in some obscure place on their web page. They do not even address the fraudulent sales pitch or the fact they have affirmed the “no further cost or obligation agreement”. They just simply state, “the fee is valid”, despite my request to have them address what the representatives told me or what their actions did my removing the handling fee in my May statement.

In the first few contacts with DirecTV, they would not even admit there was such a program offered but after numerous phone calls they admitted there was a program for regular HD Rcvrs but not the HD/DVR Rcvr. As a logical person, I attempted to try to understand why DirecTV would use 2 different approaches to deal with the HD and HD/DVR Rcvrs and this is what I found. One, there is no additional administration costs with a HD Rcvr as compared to a HD/DVR Rcvr. Two, the installation time and cost is the same for the HD Rcvr as it is for the HD/DVR Rcvr. Three, both the HD Rcvr and the HD/Rcvr must be leased from DirecTV. Four, both must be shipped back to DirecTV at cancelation of the service so they can lease them to another individual. Five, with the HD/DVR I had to subscribe to the DVR which means I paid an additional $5.99 per month to DirecTV by subscribing to the DVR service. Six, I paid an upfront fee of $66.33 for the HD/DVR Rcvr. So as you can see by actually having the HD/DVR Rcvr, DirecTV actually earned more revenue from me. I have not found a logical reason for the differing treatments.

Despite my best efforts to get DirecTV to remove the charge they will not remove the charge. I am asking you to intervene to assist me in getting the charge removed. Direct will not address the facts as;
1. DirecTV marketing and sales department made an agreement for no “further cost or obligation”
2. DirecTV affirmed these terms by removing the handling charge in May under the no further cost or obligation terms.
3. There is no logical rationale for treating the HD/DVR Rcvr.


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