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Satellite TV Service / Billing Credit Card without Authorization

1 PA, United States

I am a Verizon customer and when Verizon offered satellite TV service through Direct TV (DTV) I called them to order TV service. The operator asked fror my SS Number and I refused. I was told that this information was needed to check my credit worthiness. I had been a good Verizon customer for several years and I asked why they need a credit check, I was told that this was a DTV requirement. Then he asked for a valid credit card number, again "just to check my credit status". I spcifically asked if my credit card will be charged any amount, and was told nothing will be charged to my card. So I gave my VISA card number.
The service was installed on the agreed day. So far so good. But when I checked my credit card statemnt later that month, I saw to my horror there was a charge for $ 584.08 from Direct TV (not Verizon). I immediately called Verizon who asked me to call DTV direct. They said the following: When a new customer refuses to provide his SS Number, they assume the customer is a credit risk and automatically impose a deposit of $ 300. They also charged me $ 199.00 for the Digital Video Recorder (DVR) which was supposed to be free. I had never requested the DVR nor have any use for it. These two charges plus taxes came to $ 584.08.
This amount was charged to my credit card wihout my authorization. The Verizon rep never explained to me that not giving the SS Number would have this consequence. Nor did he seek my permission to charge this amount to my card. If he had done so, I would have DEFINITELY DECLINED the service and that would have been the end of story. I am a retired person living on fixed income and cannot afford to pay $ 584 to obtain Satellite TV service. I was a happy customer of Service Electric Company (our cable TV service provide) and I regret switching to Satellite TV.
I would like DTV to delete the $ 300 deposit based on my bad credit, because my credit score is about 800. Also I have been a good Verizon customer for many years. I would also like to return the DVR unit to DirecTV and get a regular receiver in its place. I think this will be a fair way to resolve the issue. I requested DirecTV to consider thus, but they refused.
I had filed a complaint with Pennsylvania Bureau of Consumer Protection (PBCP) in Harrisburg, PA. After several weeks they wrote to me that thay cannot help me because they have way of forcing DirecTV to remove the charges. PBCP also said they need to see a pattern of several such abuses before they can act.
I would like to urge other customers in similar situation to file complaints against DTV.

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