Satellite TV company to pay refunds, clean up ads, says AG Cooper
Release date: 12/12/2005
Raleigh: North Carolina today joined 21 other states to require DIRECTV to reform its advertising and pay refunds to consumers, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced.
“Using unfair ads to sign up customers, then sticking them with extra fees hidden in the fine print is no way to do business,” said Cooper. “I’m pleased that we’ve stopped these misleading ads and that consumers will now have an opportunity to get their money back.”
Cooper and the other attorneys general entered into an agreement with satellite television service and equipment provider DIRECTV, Inc. of El Segundo, California to resolve charges that the company’s advertisements confused and misled consumers. People in North Carolina and across the country complained about DIRECTV’s ads, particularly small unreadable print that changed the offer made in the ad’s larger print.
Because of these confusing ads, many people who signed up with DIRECTV said they did not know what they would actually have to pay for the service until after they were locked into a contract. Consumers reported that DIRECTV charged them fees for not activating their satellite service by a certain time, or that they paid for but did not receive all local channels, or that DIRECTV charged them a fee for ending the service before the “free programming offer” period expired.
As part of the settlement, DIRECTV has agreed to pay refunds to consumers who have been charged disputed fees by the company since January 1, 2001. North Carolina consumers who have complaints about the terms contained in their contracts, problems with installation, difficulties activating or receiving programming, or termination fees charged when they canceled service may be eligible for a refund under the settlement if they have filed a complaint with Cooper’s office or with the company.
Impacted consumers who have not filed a complaint are encouraged to do so by calling Cooper’s consumer protection division at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM, downloading a complaint form online at www.ncdoj.gov or writing to DIRECTV at: DIRECTV, State Complaint Program, PO Box 29079, Glendale, CA 91209-9079. All complaints must be received no later than May 11, 2006.
A total of 89 North Carolina consumers have complained about DIRECTV to Cooper’s office since 2001, and many of those consumers have already received refunds.
The agreement announced today also requires DIRECTV to change its ads so that they clearly inform consumers about the total cost of DIRECTV service and equipment. In addition, DIRECTV has agreed to pay the states $5 million.
Along with North Carolina, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia participated in the investigation and agreement.