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Direct TV / bogus early termination fee!

CA, United States Review updated:
4.15
Contact information:
In November 2006 I bought a very expensive high definition DirecTV receiver with TiVO HD; it was about $1500 all told. At that time, I was told by the authorized DirecTV vendor (Weaknees.com, in West LA) “not only does this work great now, but it’ll get better when DirecTV adds 100 HD channels by the end of 2007!” Which they did. The only catch? Those channels are in MPEG 4 format, and the TiVO only understands MPEG 2. In essence, DirecTV turned my TiVO into a very expensive brick. BTW, after this happened Weaknees told me they’d been blind-sided by DirecTV as well, and had no advance warning the company was changing protocols in order to increase its HD channel lineup. I believe them, as I know several people there and find them to be reputable.

To make matters worse, DirecTV also dumped the TiVO platform in favor of their own DVR, conveniently made for them by another Rupert Murdoch-owned company, NDS. Every web site and gadget guru that have reviewed these models (the HR20 and HR21) all conclude they are sub-standard when compared to a TiVO. Even DirecTV’s own installers, when visiting me last Saturday to discuss why some HD channels I was receiving are no longer there said the same thing. “Dude, our unit totally sucks compared to a TiVO.” And a few months ago, when I talked to a DirecTV Technical Support rep on the phone, he told me, “If you’re a TIVO fan, you’re going to hate our unit. But if you don’t swap your TiVO for our DVR, you won’t be able to view or record HD shows anymore.”

I bit the bullet and decided to take a $1500 loss and dump DirecTV in favor of Charter Cable. When I called to cancel my DirecTV account, I was informed I would have to pay an early cancellation fee of approx. $137.50 because I was terminating my contract before November 2008! (I actually never signed a contract; there is small print on the installer's worksheet.) My credit card was already charged by the time I wrote this. I was also told I’d have to contact another dept. to dispute this decision, which I did. And here’s what they wrote back:

Subject
Billing Dispute -- Early cancellation fee.

Discussion Thread
Response (Ivy C) 01/08/2008 03:17 PM

Dear Mr. Gruberman,

Thanks for writing about your DIRECTV bill. I'm sorry to hear that you canceled your DIRECTV account because of the recent changes we have had for DIRECTV HD System.

When I reviewed your account, I found that we did our best to give you all possible offers you can get to continually receive all the HD programming. Unfortunately, you declined our offers and canceled your DIRECTV account. Because we significantly discount the price of equipment and installations, we ask you to keep your programming for at least 18 months for standard receivers / 2 years for DVR, HD, and HD-DVR receivers. I have reviewed your account and I see that you activated equipment on 11/07/2006 and per the terms of your activation offer you agreed to a 2 year programming commitment. Since you did not maintain the minimum program requirements we have charged an early cancellation fee of $12.50 per month not completed to your account.

For more information on programming commitments please visit our web site at directv.com/agreements. If you want to continue disputing the early cancellation fee, please write to:

DIRECTV, Inc.
Attn: Billing Disputes
P.O. Box 6550
Greenwood Village, CO [protected]

Sincerely,

Ivy C.
Employee ID [protected]
DIRECTV Customer Service

Just because they offered me a solution doesn't mean I had to take it, as it was a lousy solution! Then to charge me because THEY changed the deal, but they claimed I didn't cooperate with them? It's not right.
0

Comments

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Ri
  9th of Mar, 2008
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I agreed with the customer ( mr. Gruberman) Direct tv. has to tell the the truth about a customer agreement that does not exist and on top of that they will charge cancellation fee, with out any customer signature or approval. Direct tv customer service is not capable to help you when you try to cancel the service.
Ca
  10th of Mar, 2008
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I fully agreed with the above complaint. Directv has to disclose the customer agreement upfront. I am having same problem with them. People be careful about this company.
Da
  6th of Apr, 2008
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
Yes, I'm having the same problem with a cancellation fee for HD service they were unable to supply. Why would I think that after 4 years of receiving their regualar programming I would not be able to receive their HD version. But, because I cancelled my DVR contract was slapped with a $150 cancellation charge. Billed to my credit card without authorization.
Jo
  5th of May, 2008
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
in 2006 I almost died due to a BRAIN BLEED. I am still recuperating. I returned the leased eqpt from DTV. I OWN
other receivers. HAD to let my subscription expire. Owe hospital $144, 000! DTV says I still owe them $100's in 'early termination fees' which they will NEVER SEE from me, and they REFUSE to reactivate my service due to 'explained above' . DTV sucks. Have comcast cable now.
Sh
  3rd of Feb, 2009
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I work at a class action law firm and we are investigating this issue. I am interested in talking to people and hearing about their experiences. Please contact me at shelly1100ny@yahoo.com if you have been charged an early termination fee by DirecTV, or if you have any questions on this investigation.

Thanks, Shelly
Cy
  29th of Mar, 2010
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I was a DirecTV customer from 2007 to 2010. After my DirecTV DVR stopped working, I was told I had to wait several days for a repairman to come to my home and that I would be charged a $50. fee. Since I already had several issues with the company for continually raising the price of my package, I decided to switch to Dish Network. Only AFTER I had the Dish installed was I told by DirecTV that they would waive the $50. fee if I would let them come back. Once I said a final "no" to this "offer" they then said I would be charged an additional $120. early termination fee. I pointed out to them that I had already been with them 3 years. Their response was to tell me that their "offer" of a free DVR upgrade which I accepted in 2008 was in fact a NEW 2-year contract--which I was not told when they made the offer, and which I have no paperwork to substantiate. As a result of this treatment, I will NEVER be a customer again, nor will I EVER say one good thing about that thieving bunch!
Jm
  5th of May, 2010
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
A similar thing happened to me!!! I had direct tv for one day because they told me it would work with my tivo, and it did not. I was then told by a customer service member that I had 3 days to cancel and not pay an early termination, but found out when I received a bill for the early termination that she was wrong. I disputed via letters, and phone calls, and was told I didn't have to pay until I received a response to my written disputer. I never recieved a response, and was sent to collections with no notification for the early termination fee. This docked my credit score 80 pts. I will never recommend direct tv ever to anyone!!! Stay away!
Fr
  17th of Nov, 2011
Agree Disagree 0 Votes
I have been a customer of DirectTV for more than ten years. Always paid on time and considered myself a good customer. Presently my equipment is worn out and I called about a free DVR as they give them to new customers. I was told straight out it would cost me over $120.00 to get what I wanted. She admitted they were giving their old customers DVR's in Florida and Texas. I was told that I could go to their competitors if that was what I wanted to do. It doesn't make sense to me to loose a good customer over something they are giving to new customers. I guess I start looking

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