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DirecTV Sued By Washington State 181

Posted by Soulskill
from the add-a-count-for-taking-away-hockey-games dept.
thomst writes "A week ago, Rob McKenna, the Attorney General of Washington State, filed suit against DirecTV, alleging 16 counts of unfair, deceptive, and unethical business practices. The charges include failure to disclose important contract information (such as early termination fees, 'service maintenance' fees, and rebate terms), misrepresentation, 'negative option' billing, 'unconscionable enforcement of contract to which there has been no mutual consent,' failure to honor promotional offers, and 'imposing charges when no service has been provided.' The complaint is available online (PDF). MSNBC's Bob Sullivan states that McKenna's office received 375 complaints against DirecTV in the 11.5 months before he filed suit, and 59 additional complaints in the 24 hours immediately after the filing was announced. Sullivan's story also states, 'McKenna said he'd been working with DirecTV for months in an attempt to avoid a court battle, and he was surprised DirecTV refused to change its business practices voluntarily.'"
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DirecTV Sued By Washington State

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  • Buying boxes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by digitalunity (19107) <digitalunityNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:09PM (#30512896) Homepage

    I particularly love the part about buying DirecTV from a Best Buy only to find out later that you don't really it.

    Oh, and that you can't find a complete document outlining your rights and responsibilities in one place.

    Even my credit card company does that...

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:14PM (#30512970)

      Not sure what you're talking about, I bought DirecTV from Best Buy and I the whole thing.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Accidentally, of course.
    • Re:Buying boxes (Score:5, Interesting)

      by andyring (100627) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:23PM (#30513112) Homepage

      Yeah, that REALLY pissed me off too. I thought I "bought" their high-end DVR when I forked over the cash at BestBuy. Not to mention it is not possible at the store to read the massive thing you sign when "buying" it. Then, several months later when I wanted to cancel because my 2-year term was up, I'm told I can't because I added a receiver. But I paid for it! I'll give it back to them if they want it, but no. I even threatened to nuke the credit card it's being billed to but was told my account would then go to collections. I used to really like DirecTV but now I will never, ever recommend them to anyone.

      • Re:Buying boxes (Score:5, Interesting)

        by paiute (550198) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:31PM (#30513236)

        My mother-in-law, a DirecTV customer, died a year or so ago. My wife had such a hard time trying to terminate the account that she swears she will never do business with them and will do her best to discourage any of her friends from signing up with them.

        DirecTV bought bad word of mouth for decades when all they had to do was to say that they were sorry for her loss, the account is cancelled, and here is your confirmation number. Have a nice day.

        • My wife had such a hard time trying to terminate the account

          Out of curiosity, how so? If they finally did cancel the account I suppose that was mission accomplished. But I totally understand when someone is grieving what a PITA it is working through all of the red tape.

          Typically most companies require a copy of the death cert mailed/faxed to them as proof and then they gladly comply. Was this what happened?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rich0 (548339)

          I've known others with similar problems with relatives who passed away. What I don't understand is why anybody goes through all this trouble.

          Step 1 - fully probate the will and lock that up tight.

          Step 2 - Just send a note explaining that they're dead, and if convenient attach the death certificate. I'm not sure that relatives even have an obligation to do that.

          If DirecTV keeps the service turned on then don't pay any bills. The only person with a contractual obligation to them is dead, and their estate h

          • by Bios_Hakr (68586)

            It can take a long time to probate a Will. And how many people actually have Wills anyway? Everyone *should*; most don't.

            And while you are getting it all sorted out, lawyers will tell you to keep paying the bills (out of the estate, if possible) and then try and get reimbursed once things are settled.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by sconeu (64226)

          My mother just moved. Her new condo association won't let them put antennas on the roof, and she's got a balcony/patio where the receiver can't see the satellite. They're charging her an early termination fee because of it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Just Some Guy (3352)

            My mother just moved. Her new condo association won't let them put antennas on the roof, and she's got a balcony/patio where the receiver can't see the satellite. They're charging her an early termination fee because of it.

            Devil's advocate: how is it DirecTV's fault that she unilaterally did something that made her unable to receive the service she'd paid for?

            • by Marful (861873)
              Common Sense: how is she supposed to know where the satellite is so that she could have known before hand that she wouldn't be able to point the dish at it?
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by John Whitley (6067)

              Devil's advocate: how is it DirecTV's fault that she unilaterally did something that made her unable to receive the service she'd paid for?

              It's DirecTV's fault because to do otherwise makes them asshats. Life happens, in ways that people often can't control. Any responsible business allows for such in their policies and contracts. For example, a local gym chain that I attended for a time had not only reasonable and responsible account termination rules and practices, but they even let you out of a contract no-fuss if you moved and were no longer within some very modest distance of a franchise location. They got my business over another loc

              • Honestly, I'm completely in your camp. It's good business to treat your customers well, even if that means a short term lost profit. That said, if you sign a contract saying you'll pay a certain amount monthly with an early termination fee, you can't be too surprised when the company holds you to it. It's nice of them to let you out and probably more profitable long term, but that's certainly not something you should count on.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Sandbags (964742)

            Please direct your mother to this document, and to the local enforcement agencies. If there is no place on the balcony she can install a dish in LOS of a sattelite for a company that offers local services, then they must allow it to be mounted to a wall or roofline that is in direct contact with one of the rooms she rents.

            I have fought this with 2 previous rental companies successfully. in once case, i was forces to sign a contract with a local provider for 1 year to get TV at all until the ruling came in

      • re: Collections (Score:3, Interesting)

        They will send trivial amounts to a collection agency, too. I had a dispute with them and changed to Dish. You prepay for DirecTV, and the disputed bill contained a month of service, plus the new month (and the service was off). I refused to pay and they sent the entire bill to a collection agency, even though the last month of service was not used. My credit history is almost spotless, except for that one DirecTV bill hanging out there...

        I worked at a place with monthly subscriptions and we discussed sendi

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by penguin_dance (536599)

        I never had any problems listed with DirecTV. Of course I didn't cancel early and yes I knew there was a contract when you get these things. It didn't cost that much and the installation was free. I think if I remember correctly the whole thing was free except that you have a two year contract. I never bought their DVR because logic dictates that it's not going to work if you ever cancel the service. Instead I got a DVD-R. This deal is really no different that the deal you get with cell phone companies wher

        • by Bigbutt (65939)

          We moved earlier this year. At the old place (Comcast), we were able to plug the TV directly into the cable and get all the channels we wanted to watch. When we got the Bravia, we rescanned and were able to receive the high-def ones and didn't have to pay for a cable box. At the new house (again Comcast) we plugged the TV in and went through the channels. All our old channels were there and in high-def as expected, except for the Hallmark Channel which my wife watches fairly often. We had to pay extra for t

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by rizzo320 (911761)
            Broadband Reports has frequent posts about this very scenario. From what I've read, many times after system upgrades Comcast will leave many channels un-encrypted for testing purposes for months at a time, so you're receiving many Clear-QAM (unencrypted digital cable) that may not necessarily be there permanently. Often, these channels will move around and require a re-scan, disappear, be replaced with other channels, etc. The number of channels that are un-encrypted may vary from neighborhood to neighbo
          • by swb (14022)

            It sounds like you should have gotten a high def box to begin with.

            AFAIK Comcast doesn't charge extra for HD versions of channels you'd normally get with whatever plan you have, and the "free" HD channels you get with your TV tuner and no box are just the OTA HD channels; HD versions of channels sent in the clear on the "classic" analog cable channels (33-99) aren't broadcast in the clear.

            I just added another cable card my household for a new Tivo and the tech told me that they are planning on ditching ALL

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by GumphMaster (772693)

        Not to mention it is not possible at the store to read the massive thing you sign when "buying" it

        Sure it is. Just stand there, read it, and refuse to pay or sign until you are finished. The retailer will quickly see the stupidity of the document and tell their supplier if everybody actually did this. If the document is unnecessarily large then you can be sure that it is only that way to bolster the seller's advantage and your detriment. Mobile phone peddlers are particularly good at this sort of crap also. In Australia at the moment they are fond of hiding a fee for processing a payment to them

    • Re:Buying boxes (Score:4, Interesting)

      by turb (5673) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:49PM (#30513462) Homepage

      We've had equally "interesting" experiences ....

      1) We upgraded one of our boxes to the DirecTV DVR ... cost us a few hundred dollars as I recall... only to find out that unlike our own receiver(s) this upgrade wasn't owned by us but leased with a monthly charge for the lease no less. So I called them up indicating I wanted my old hardware back and to come and get the new box. They never returned the old hardware claiming, "well we're not sure where that went, would you like a movie channel free for a month?"

      Bastards!

      Time passes....

      2) Our bill suddenly shows a "2nd" leased receiver charge... Do we have a 2nd receiver that is leased? No. As I indicated before I always bought our own hardware with the exception of the "upgrade" fiasco. Never mind this other supposedly leased receiver isn't even hooked up... took them the better part of an hour to finally get it. Granted I probably will be hooking that one back up again (and HR10-250) since the MPEG 4 tivo receiver STILL isn't out yet and their HD DVR really really sucks.

      And hey while I'm bending your ear... the other thing that makes me see red is wrt their NFL sunday ticket. So I like football and the team I follow isn't always on the local channels since we're in a different market. Now everybody everywhere is shooting NFL football in HD. You think DirecTV Sunday Ticket would show you the game in HD? HA! Fork over another $99 on top of the already astronomical NFL Sunday Ticket price. Now I could understand the extra price back the "good ol days" before the switch over but we're well past that.

      Pretty sad state of affairs....

      • Re:Buying boxes (Score:4, Informative)

        by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday December 21, 2009 @05:53PM (#30517364)

        FYI, the NFL sets the prices for the DirectTV Sunday Ticket. Thats why its non-refundable too.. The same Group (NFL) is trying to force some cable companies to carry their channel on basic cable, and pay per month per subscriber for it, when its only real good a few months out of the year, unless you love to watch old recorded games...

  • It's about time (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:09PM (#30512906)
    DirectTV had been strong arming alleged theft of service cases to force many innocent people to pay large amounts and settle out of court. It's about time that they get busted for other strong arm tactics that they are doing to customers. This company has been extorting money for years. It's finally about time someone goes after them!
    • Re:It's about time (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe (446288) <jwsmythe@jwsm[ ]e.com ['yth' in gap]> on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:24PM (#30513942) Homepage Journal

          A long time ago, they used to be good folks to deal with. That's gone down hill.

          I had bought a HDVR2 (Standard def TiVO receiver), which was their latest greatest at the time. They wanted to send someone out to install it, but I bought on a Friday night, and they couldn't schedule until Monday. No big deal there. I installed it myself that night. It worked well. Over a span of a few years, I bought a few other pieces of equipment. I think I only ever called once during that period for a repair, and the guy was at my house the next day to help. It was for a defective regular receiver for my girlfriend's kid's room.

          The last time I moved, the install went ok. It took a few extra days to get someone out. This was a big move for us, so I didn't have time to get on the roof and wire everything up. I also wanted the newer dish, which I could have bought online for a few bucks. It took them several days to show up. At the prior house, we had gotten the NFL sports package, but that was for a friend to watch. Since the friend wouldn't be watching, we didn't need it any more. "Sorry, you can't cancel at this time, you have to cancel in 3 months." I forgot, and on the 4th month I called and they said the same thing again. Perpetually trapped with an add-on package that I couldn't get rid of.

          Not too long after that, the signal started going. I'm fairly sure it was the multiplexer. I called them to come fix it. They scheduled for a week later. The guy never showed, so they rescheduled for another week later. (2 weeks, no service). The guy showed a day after the scheduled date, with a new DVR in hand. He said they had not scheduled for a repair, only a DVR upgrade. Huh? He couldn't do the repair, only the upgrade that I hadn't asked for. I spent an hour on the phone with DTV, and they finally scheduled a repair in two weeks. So, a month with no service. I called, told them to go screw themselves, and called a local wired provider, who was out the next day to do the install.

          I was fairly lucky, my pricing was fixed because I was grandfathered in. The "current" rate was much higher than what I was paying. A month or so after I cancelled, I started getting nasty calls from them saying I was late on my bill. It was a month of daily calls, where they asked for money, and I told them to go screw themselves. Ok, I was a little clearer on the phone, but that was the end of each conversation. They finally realized I wasn't going to give them anything, and they went away. It wasn't worth their time to call, since I had made it abundantly clear that I had cancelled, and wasn't going to pay them anything.

          Ya, they got pretty bad. It's really unfortunate, I liked their service. I was a customer for many years, and they managed to alienate me. Obviously, I'm not the only one.

      • by StikyPad (445176)

        I don't know how long ago you mean by "a long time ago," but I signed up a year and a half ago and I've been quite satisfied with both the service itself and the customer service. I signed up for the full HD package + standard channels + NFL gameday (free for the 1st year) + all movie channels (free for 3 months).

        I was out of town for the first week, and scheduled a game to record, only to find that it had recorded several hours of a black screen. Naturally I was irritated, but hey, it was "free". Anyway

        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          They may have improved their CS. I really hope so. I won't be going back anytime soon though. A year and a half is more than since I left them, and got the bad taste of their world.

          The cited complaints in the original post are far from unique. Virtually every provider these days advertise great prices, and it's only if/when you read the fine print (when available) that you can see what the real costs are.

          As for owning the equipment, I strongly suggest going to eBay and b

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      DirectTV had been strong arming alleged theft of service cases to force many innocent people to pay large amounts and settle out of court. It's about time that they get busted for other strong arm tactics that they are doing to customers. This company has been extorting money for years. It's finally about time someone goes after them!

      True statement. I was a target of DTV's "theft of service" racket 5 or so years ago.

      They demanded a $4000 settlement because I had purchased a smart card programmer from a company that had been implicated in producing hacked DTV smart cards. That was the only "evidence" that they had, and in fact, I maintained a subscription with DTV for years prior (including subscribing to a lot of premium content).

      I told them (via my lawyer) to go piss up a rope. They never filed suit.

      FWIW, as bad as Comcast is, they'

  • by hansoloaf (668609) <hansoloaf@yahDEGASoo.com minus painter> on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:11PM (#30512938)
    I had a DirecTV Tivo DVR that was working fine in Missouri. I moved to Vermont and brought it with me. However the model would not work in Vermont.

    Directv would not allow me to continue to use the Tivo model so they forced me to obtain their free DVR product (crap). Didn't cost me anything so I had to agree to that.

    Then the DVR product broke and I asked DirecTV to replace it. They did so no problem but extended my two year contract without informing me. About a year later when the contract was supposed to have expire, I called to negotiate a better deal including HD etc, only to be told that I have one more year left. After countless calls I learned that they extended this quietly because they "gave" me a replacement DVR.

    So screw them, I paid the ETF and moved to Dish. Ever since DirecTV have been bombarding me with mails begging me to come back but I'm staying with Dish for two years.

    Hope the states force DirecTV to stop these practices.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Duhavid (677874)

      "Ever since DirecTV have been bombarding me with mails begging me to come back"

      I quit DirecTV when my ( now ex ) wife moved out on me. We had gotten it so she could watch 49ers football. It was hard to cancel, they kept trying to "save" the account. In any given week I get at least one mailing from them asking me to come back.

      In the last couple weeks, they have started calling again. Thank God for caller ID.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by sconeu (64226)

        In the last couple weeks, they have started calling again. Thank God for caller ID.

        The 8 Magic Words: "Put me on your do-not-call list".

    • by the_Bionic_lemming (446569) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:25PM (#30513144)

      Dish is even worse on leaving - you don't own any of the equipment, if you quit in February, they demand you climb up on the icy roof to get their lnb to ship back, and they threaten to charge not only the early termination fee - but the full cost of the equipment if its "damaged" in any way - meaning if they find a scratch, they'll hit your credit card- and better make sure the remotes are included.

      Took a complaint to the BBB and countless calls to the escalated tech (which never returns calls - you have to catch them when they are off a call and in their seat).

      I will never ever go with DTV, Dish, or comcast again. I'll take the netflix and stream the commercial free stuff to my tv instead.

      Cheaper too.

      • by Inda (580031)
        Take down their equipment? Accept a company's fraudulent contract extension? Bow down to them when they command you to?

        We have a relatively new phrase in the UK that fits the majority of situations: Do one.

        It's very polite and assertive.

        What happens in the US when you break pissy little contracts like this one? Not the worse case; what happens normally?

        I'd expect some letters, some more letters, a threat of court action, then nothing.
        • by ByOhTek (1181381)

          Collectors harass you, your credit record goes to pot.

          Eventually they take you to court and get the money from you, even if it's drawn straight from your account at the judges authority.

      • by TheNinjaroach (878876) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:52PM (#30513504)
        I had a much better experience with Dish. Sure, I didn't own any of the equipment but I didn't pay anything for it either. When the receiver broke, they replaced it without any trouble. When I moved houses they sent out a new installation crew free of charge. Eventually when I decided to cancel (TV isn't worth money..) they asked for my "LNBF" and the receiver, I said "Sure I'll send you the receiver, but you sent out a crew of three men to install that dish with the LNBF and if you want to have that you will need to send them back." So the account rep took note of the fact I wasn't going up three and a half stories to get their LNBF, I mailed back the receiver free of charge and that was the end of that. If I ever decide to pay for television again, I'm going nowhere but Dish.
      • by Dan667 (564390)
        Why are you throwing Dish under the bus with DirectTV and Comcast? Nothing in your post has anything to do with them. I have had a very good experience with Dish Network.
      • Odd. My wife has both a DirecTV and a Dish mounted on our old house, where they've been for years. My adult sons were starting school when Dish was mounted, and DirecTV went up about the time they started high school. I've never heard a word about returning any equipment. A newer Dish sits on the new house, quietly corroding, and they've never asked for that one either. I know it's five years or more since we paid for that service. The internet replaces some of her satellite viewing, and the new digit

      • We had a lot of trouble with the installation...

        We originally wanted to go with Dish. They sent someone out to our house and he quickly determined that the only way it would work was if they stuck a pole in the middle of our yard. Oh, and there would be two separate dishes. We told him no and sent him on his way... The guy was only there for about 10 minutes.

        Then we had to explain to Dish that we didn't have their equipment, weren't going to pay monthly bills, didn't cancel any agreement because we neve

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          Mine was similar. I was supposed to cut down trees before they'd install it. I told them thanks, but no thanks. And they said "well, pay the $50 survey fee, and I'll be on my way." Of course, I'd never agreed to such a thing and didn't pay it, but I wonder how many people the installer bilks out of their money that way.
      • by MBGMorden (803437)

        Dish is indeed the worse of two evils if you're shopping for satellite service.

        We had them over 10 years ago. Paid $400 to have the system installed and setup. It worked for 2-3 years and then the receiver died. Is that covered? Contract extension to replace it? No - they wanted us to fork over full price to replace the unit (they were far cheaper to start up with a contract but that was "For new customers only."). Ended up just giving up on them and got DirecTV installed and going for $49 (knock on

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Wow.

        When my ex-wife and I split, I called Dish, and informed them that I was not longer at the residence, and to cancel the service.

        I did get a call back from a sale rep, asking why I was leaving their service, and I informed him that I was getting a divorce. He was kind enough to cancel the ETF without any issues.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ktappe (747125)

        Dish is even worse on leaving - you don't own any of the equipment, if you quit in February, they demand you climb up on the icy roof to get their lnb to ship back, and they threaten to charge not only the early termination fee - but the full cost of the equipment if its "damaged" in any way - meaning if they find a scratch, they'll hit your credit card- and better make sure the remotes are included.

        Not true. I canceled Dish (for FiOS) earlier this year and they did not ask for a single thing back. The dish remains on the roof and we eventually threw their tuner away.

    • by morari (1080535)

      So screw them, I paid the ETF and moved to Dish./quote.

      Yep, you really screwed them. Paying that ETF and all... Way to show them!

    • by isfry (101853)

      I had that happen to but I had the protection plan. I had a receiver replaced under that plan and my contract grew 2 years because of that. When to cancel and they said i was still under contract. Talked to a lot of reps and seemed like someone was going to waive that till collections called. At that point the could pound salt. i think we still gwet calles from them over that.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Monday December 21, 2009 @12:20PM (#30513072) Homepage

    he was surprised DirecTV refused to change its business practices voluntarily.

    I'm not surprised DirecTV ignored him. The big corporate types are used to owning government, and tend to get blindsided by guys who take their job as AG to mean that they're supposed to enforce the laws of their state (e.g. pre-affair Eliot Spitzer).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rich0 (548339)

      Once upon a time I worked at a K-mart and on one summer day a guy shows up in a utility uniform and wearing a hard hat. He walked up to the customer service desk (skipping the line), and politely informed the person working there that if a copy of a check wasn't FAXed to the electric company the power would be switched off in 15 minutes. Apparently nobody had been paying the electric bill for a few months. :)

      I've never seen managers scramble so fast in my life, and the power never went out, so I guess the

    • I'm really happy with the things he's done since he took office. One of the few AGs who's not afraid to get his hands dirty, but not tabloid style dirty.

      • by Mr2001 (90979)

        Indeed. When Bank of America tried to jack up the rate on my credit card (more than double), I made phone calls and wrote letters but got nowhere. After filing one complaint on the AG's web site, however, I got a call from some important-sounding person at the bank, and they dropped my rate back down and refunded the additional charges.

  • Having recently experienced the 2nd happiest day of a directv consumer, I can say I hate those bastards.

    Their contract is written such that they can change the any of the terms (including channel lineup) without notice, and you are stuck. Never again will I buy their service.

    Sure, I have no love for Comcast, and I think their service is somewhat more expensive, but they are reasonably up-front about the costs, and you can cancel at any time.

    I wish great success for the State of Washington's lawsuit, and no

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HogGeek (456673)

      "but also hoping there are some large punitive damages awarded, too"

      I don't. I have had DTV since 1996. I've never had a problem with them (but I've never tried to cancel either...). I've been given free upgrades (DVRs/Receivers), free premium channels (for a year) and other incentives to "stay on-board".

      A "large punitive damages award" would only end up be reflected in my bill...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by OhPlz (168413)

        I agree. A lot of this sounds like sour grapes. I didn't buy my HD-DVR at Worst Buy, I bought it direct from DirecTV. They made it perfectly clear that the cheap price was to lease it, and to buy it outright it was insanely expensive. You'd have to know this when you go to activate it, it's part of the process.

        EVERYONE has termination fees. Go get cable and cancel it the next day, same deal. I have no problem with states going after companies over outrageous fees, but DirecTV certainly isn't the only

        • by Rich0 (548339)

          My understanding is that DirecTV no longer offers to sell equipment outright AT ALL. A few years ago you could buy up-front and own the equipment clear. Buying up-front was ALWAYS the better move. If you changed your mind the equipment had a substantial resale value on ebay, and most of the time DirecTV would offer to buy in from you in exchange for waiving the early termination fees. I suspect that was why they went to the "rental" system - they wanted to have their cake and eat it too.

          The funny thing

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by lophophore (4087)

        You haven't been given squat.

        If you accepted new receivers from them, then they extended your contract, possibly without your knowledge and/or consent.

        They came out to my house because I told them that their installation (done by their contractor) was not compliant with the national electric code (no ground on outside antenna) and they tried to extend my contract from that date. That did not go over well.

        In my opinion, they are thieves and criminals, and they get away with it because they have an unlimited

  • I was a DirecTV customer from within the first year or so of its existence up until maybe 4 years ago, when I moved to an apartment where I couldn't have a dish. I was completely happy with them in every way. In the early days, you could buy your own equipment and it wasn't tied to a service contract. The service contracts were a year instead of two. Their customer service was pretty good. Their picture quality, channel selection, and early HD offerings were way ahead of local cable.

    I've said many t
  • Same thing happened to me, I bought a DVR after I had been a customer for many years. A year after I bought the DVR I switched to Dish but DirecTV wanted to bill me for another year of service. I still get calls about it and that was like 4 years ago.

    These guys are just weaselly in general.

  • Not my experience... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by gregarican (694358) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:00PM (#30513634) Homepage

    Perhaps it depends on where you purchase DirecTV service through. The Best Buy "bundled" promo must have hidden a pantload of gotchas in there from the sounds of it.

    I've had DirecTV off and on for 9 years now. From what I've experienced (compared to Time Warner and a few other providers) is that DirecTV's customer service is unparalleled in terms of being efficient, effective, and compliant. They have even won J.D. Power awards for customer satisfaction from what I recall. When I was a new customer (or renewing my NFL Sunday Ticket) I'd receive pay movie channels included for 3 months, get used to them, and would get the free period extended (several times over the course of a whole year) by calling into customer service and threaten to cancel my account down the road. Practically every time I called in I got some promo offer extended.

    That being said, it could perhaps have something to do with different states having different whys and wherefores. But I do know that going to "Worst Buy" is typically a bad move. From what I've heard their sales consist of a lot of items that are being phased out by the manufacturer. So they are dumped into the market as end of life items at a deep discount. Can't count how many items I've tried to return that can't be replaced since they were no longer actively sold or supported. So I can only imagine purchasing a bundled service through them...

    • I don't doubt your experience may differ from those in Washington. However, I believe the fact that 434 complaints mentioned in the summary has merit from there being 375 unsolicited complaints and 59 "me too" complaints.

      I think the problem originates from new customers with new receivers, and may explain why your experience differs.

      I think it's a pretty crappy deal. You pay a discounted price for equipment that depreciate in value rather quickly, and after completing the required number of months of serv

  • Why have either? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Temujin_12 (832986) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:12PM (#30513790)

    Why pay cable/satellite companies for TV in general? I've found that I'm perfectly happy with getting all of my TV online through iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and various network's websites. Just pay for a good internet connection (which generally doesn't have such ridiculous terms and conditions) and stream. You can now even stream sports games from the internet (for a nominal cost from season to season).

    The payment structures and contracts involved with cable/satellite TV just seem ridiculous and antiquated now.

    And no, I haven't had any problems with bandwidth limits (just get the right package).

    • Do you have any idea what that costs when you live in an area with no cable tv or DSL service?

    • Why pay cable/satellite companies for TV in general? I've found that I'm perfectly happy with getting all of my TV online through iTunes, Netflix, Hulu, and various network's websites.

      Why would you assume your TV would be the same as anyone else's?

      I primarily watch PBS and live in an area that's a bit too far out for good reception with a converter box. Admittedly, there is some PBS programming available on the web, but it's far from complete.

      I also watch C-SPAN. That's funded by cable providers and avail

    • by antdude (79039)

      Not everyone has fast connections. Some are still stuck on dial-up! Some are not in USA so they get region blocked even if they could stream.

  • ...for standing up for the people in his state. It's bad when "doing your job right" gets you lauded, but that only means that other Attorneys General fail at that task miserably.

    • Actually, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is the worst kind of political hack. He has shaken down the major businesses in the state to support his infomercials under the guise of public service announcements. ("Hello, this is Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna with this consumer minute....") It is an ugly way of getting around campaign limits.

      Washington State has a history of statewide non-Governor positions being very bipartisan, but McKenna is all about pure ambition. He has chosen a fe

  • by HogGeek (456673) on Monday December 21, 2009 @01:39PM (#30514160)

    The only "real" fix it to stop treating corporations like "humans". They are a company regardless of their filing.

    Hold them responsible for their actions, and limit their ability to "pass on" the cost of their bad actions, so it truly affect their bottom line. They don't care when they get "caught"; They "apologize"; then raise their fees/charges/rates/... to cover the cost of the "infraction", then find a new way to screw the customer base. If they actually had to pay, then they would stop, or go out of business - either way the consumer "wins".

    I don't have any evidence, but I'll bet the "lease" deal came out of the DTV hacking that was so prevalent in the not to distant past. If they own the equipment, they have more "rights".

    It seems a lot of corporations use this cycle; Telecom, Cable/Satellite, ...

  • No suprise there (Score:3, Insightful)

    by buss_error (142273) on Monday December 21, 2009 @02:17PM (#30514670) Homepage Journal

    I was a DirecTV subscriber six years ago, and got fed up with them.
    Dish is much easier to deal with. Full disclosure: I disconed them too in March, not for poor service or high fees, - I got good service and the fees were OK - but in protest to the Copyright Cartel.

    Some find it shocking that I don't watch TV anymore (not even on hulu.com). Until the Copyright Cartel quits their antics, NO COOKIE FOR YOU!

  • I'm really looking forward to the state of Wisconsin establishing new programs with the temporary funds that they receive from DirecTV. Then I'm looking forward to my taxes going up because, since the programs are already established, they can't be taken away and they need to be paid for somehow. I do love how receiving "free" money will cost me more money down the road. I loooove paying taxes.

    That said, I doubt that this will do any real good. As in the Intel/AMD case, DirecTV has already benefitted so muc

  • He is just cranky from it raining all the time.

  • The gov. has listened. I have myself been in this very type situation, where you never agreed to these changing contracts.
    You never signed any NEW contracts, so the old one stays, and then when you realize that it changed last time you renewed
    you get the old, it's your own fault. Well the last time you go changing my contract, at least tell me about it!

    As well, strong arming me into thinking I have to pay, by sending me the bill and then stating that I have to pay because you say so, has to stop. Like a cel

  • Or, does it somehow hurt Microsoft?
  • Its even more cost effective than advertising or anti trust and its been legalized by congress who are all bought and paid for with voters. Democracy really gets shareholders their money's worth. Citizens cough it up here since they don't spend enough on taxes. WE MUST MAKE THIEVES PAY MORE THAN THEY STEAL OR THEY WON'T STOP. Don't enable corporate or legislative scum balls.
  • I had signed up for service when my wife and I moved. Signed up online for a sweet deal that got me two HD DVR's and I only paid $99. Get everything setup and find out it's 2 HD receivers (not what I ordered). Since I didn't have the screenshot of me signing up, they tried to tell me I couldn't get it and they didn't offer that service; however, a coupon came in the mail that day for the exact same thing, which they tried to deny on the phone. Since I was still in the 24-hour grace period to cancel with

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