DirecTV Makes You Pay Termination Fee Even If You Can't Use Their Service

DirecTV is a lying pack of liars. They told Ian that if he moved to a place where he couldn’t use his dish, then they would let him out of contract without early termination fee (ETF). Well guess what? He moved to a place without a balcony or roof access. Double guess what: Now DirecTV says he has to pay an ETF and they say there’s no record of all those reps telling him that, and that that’s not part of their policy. Triple guess what: Ian called up DirecTV sales and recorded their sales rep telling him that they DO let you out of contract if you move to a new place where you can’t use DirecTV. Are DirecTV retention reps just not versed on company policy, or are they a pack of scumbags? I dunno, but you know what they say, never trust a company run by a man in a mustache. Ian’s audio recording and letter to the CEO of DirecTV is inside…

Dear Consumerist,

I signed up for DirecTV in September of last year and have, until today, loved the service. Unfortunately, my girlfriend and I are moving to an apartment without a balcony or access to the roof and are prohibited from bringing our dish with us. Consequently, I’m forced to leave DirecTV’s best-of-breed HDTV for Comcast’s worst-of-breed YouTube-quality mush.

When I first spoke with a representative (ID #410930) about the service and its two year commitment, I was told that if I eventually moved to a place where I was unable to use the service the early termination fee (ETF) would be waived. About two months ago I again called DirecTV and, while making a minor change to my account, verbally confirmed with a service representative (ID #413117) that the ETF would be waived if that happened to be the case.

Yesterday, after double checking with my landlord that there was no chance I could install the dish, I reluctantly called DirecTV to cancel… only to find out that they won’t waive the ETF. “Robby” (ID #402875) claimed to be the account supervisor despite being a first line representative and insisted that his own supervisor (ID #U2985) “doesn’t get on the phones.” He claimed that he could find no record in either of the previous call logs that I been offered a waived ETF. Another call this morning to DirecTV customer service found them in agreement: my ETF would not be waived. And, sure enough, the DirecTV Service Agreement makes no mention of moving to an apartment or area incapable of properly positioning the dish.

However, since I had already been lied to twice by DirecTV representatives I figured that I should call their sales department. So, this morning I called their sales number pretending to order new service and inquired as to whether or not there would be an ETF if I eventually moved to an area without service. Essentially, I replicated my initial sales call with DirecTV from seven months ago, but this time with a recording device.

Sure enough, the sales representative I spoke with repeatedly assured me that the fee would be waived if I were to move to a home that I could not get service at. So, at least DirecTV sales is consistent about giving false information. It should be noted that this representative was the rule, not the exception: all four times I have asked DirecTV sales people about the ETF waiver and all four times I have received the same incorrect response.

When I called retentions back and pointed out that I’d been told this repeatedly and had a recording, I was told that there was nothing that could be done except that a note would be made in my account and a higher up emailed.

If DirecTV’s customer service representatives had simply been honest with me I wouldn’t really have anything to complain about– I’d just pay my ETF without complaint. But the fact that sales and retention tell customers starkly different things about the service commitment is troubling, to say the least. I would have switched back to DirecTV the moment that I moved to an accommodating home, but why would I choose to do further business with a company whose representatives are apparently coached to lie?

Hopefully your readers won’t make the same mistake I made: make sure anything that any DirecTV representative tells you is backed up in writing. Because even if you record them promising something they won’t honor it. And if you do post anything about this, please remove my personal information.

Sincerely,

Ian
DirecTV Account #[redacted]

P.S. Neither representative could tell me exactly how much my final bill would be, even after I gave them a firm cancellation date. I was told “around $200″, but at this point I have no reason to believe that this is the actual amount I’ll be charged.

P.P.S. The ID numbers were given to me over the phone by “Robby”.

Also, my service appears to have just been turned off– five days early (termination date was April 29). I confirmed that it was set for the 29th with two representatives. I can’t even access my recorded shows on my DVR since they are dependent upon an active service. I’m calling DirecTV again now.

Comments

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  1. Dobernala says:

    Triple guess what: Ian called up DirecTV sales and recorded their sales rep telling him that they DO let you out of contract if you move to a new place where you can’t use DirecTV.

    Pwned.

  2. rbb says:

    Ben – you may want to redact his account # at the bottom of his message…

  3. nutrigm says:

    EVIL!!!

  4. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I like how he recorded the rep…yet it didn’t matter.

    He should compile recordings of a dozen reps saying this…just to show it wasn’t a fluke.

  5. highmodulus says:

    Ah DirectTV, bringing the customer friendly policies of the wireless providers to the television market.

    The only sleazy trick they need to add is the “high pressure pitch for an extended warranty” and/or “we involuntarily extend your contract any time you contact us” and their evil company Bingo card will be a winner.

    I hope they don’t give the Cable companies any ideas. . .

  6. MayorBee says:

    But Mr. DirecTV needs that ETF money. With the cost of oil these days, mustache wax prices have gone through the roof!

  7. Flame says:

    Sounds like a good time to pull out the old EECB. Maybe companies are going deaf to it, but with the recording of their own rep telling a customer that, maybe it’ll work. I also hope he lives in a state with one-party consent for recording those things. The courts are still kinda up in the air about whether those are admissible in court….

  8. arsbadmojo says:

    This is so disgusting. It makes me sick. Hey DirecTV – You think your customer service is better than cable? I guess it’s not too hard to high jump over a garden hose – but guess what…you still suck!

    If this isn’t a case for small claims court, I don’t know what is.

  9. Devidence says:

    DirecTV is a bad, bad company. I’m not surprised at this at all. Great post!

  10. thesabre says:

    Quadruple guess what – it’s illegal to record someone without their consent.

    Quintuple guess what – he should have requested it, in writing, when the first rep told him that he would not have to pay the ETF.

  11. weakdome says:

    that moustache is FABULOUS.

  12. AaronZ says:

    I like how in a letter about DirectTV, the OP still manages a dig against Comcast. It must be a Consumerist pre-requisite.

  13. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    “DIRECTV” is a pile of shit company and needs to go away.

    Fun fact: I sent my two receivers back in mid-December. One of them took a little while longer to get there so I was charged for it. Phone call in early January gets me a refund promise. Phone call in late January gets me another refund promise. Just last week, refund comes.

  14. EricaKane says:

    Directv used to be no hassles (like 10 years ago) then they started forcing people on contracts and they stink worse than the cable company.

  15. arsbadmojo says:

    “Thank you for your comments! We take all customer feedback very seriously. Even though you have chosen not to receive a response to your email, be assured that your feedback will be reviewed by the appropriate department.”

    VERY seriously.

  16. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @thesabre: And that written request would either be “on its way” and never come after you sign up or “one its way” and never come while you wait to sign up.

  17. nightshade74 says:

    @thesabre:

    Actually it depends on the state your in as to the legality (1 or 2 party) recording…..see

    [www.rcfp.org]

  18. B says:

    Assuming the OP wants to stay with DirectTV, kinda guessing c ause they praise DirectTV in the beginning, thanks to the FCC, their landlord is required by law to let them mount the dish on an exterior wall, so they shouldn’t have to leave at all.

  19. chalpin says:

    @thesabre: Quadruple guess what – it’s not illegal to record someone without their consent if you’re in a single-consent state such as Texas.

  20. Troas says:

    plus, if they say “your call may be recorded for quality assurance” doesn’t that mean they are giving permission to record?

  21. weakdome says:

    @Troas: no. we already went through this. go back through the archives.

  22. SkokieGuy says:

    Even if it’s two party consent, because the call opens with ‘your call may be recorded for quality assurance’, the rep, by taking the call has given his consent.

    It would only be illegal if the DirectTV rep somehow could be proven not to know his own company may be recording the call. – IMHO

  23. Diet-Orange-Soda says:

    @SkokieGuy: IMHO = IANAL

  24. thebestever says:

    when misinformation like this is given through a call center you can always ask that your calls be reviewed for accuracy. many times when errors are found on behalf of the company they will correct them, hopefully in a timely manner. either way, this complaint should be sent or faxed to the company… and labeled as a complaint.

  25. Pithlit says:

    My mom recently got DirectTV and the person she initially talked to promised her she’d get local channels. It even said so on the brochure. After it’s hooked up, she notices she’s not getting local channels. When she calls to ask for them, they explain that she couldn’t get local channels in her area. She was then told she would have to pay to terminate the contact, even though she was lied to. It’s ridiculous that they get away with this. I will never get DirectTV.

  26. mac-phisto says:

    STOP THE HIJACK!

    i justlooked at the agreement here –> [www.directv.com] for an escape clause/remorse clause…SOMETHING that might help this guy out. no dice.

    & incidentally, even if you don’t have to pay the ETF, there’s a DISCONNECT fee. bastards.

    however, i would consider mentioning to some higher ups at DTV that you are considering making a statement to your state AG’s office & including the tapes b/c you feel their product has been misrepresented.

  27. macinjosh says:

    @chalpin: What if the other person is in a two-party state?

  28. sysak says:

    Diabeetus!

  29. Nighthawke says:

    Escalate, Escalate, Escalate… He needs to keep going up the ladder until he gets a proper resolution to this issue.

  30. ivanthemute says:

    @thesabre: Bub, you fail. There are 31 states with single-consent recording laws, the remainder have dual-consent laws. The only exception is in the case of a tap with a duly assigned warrant.

  31. mtaylor924 says:

    @macinjosh: I recall from discussions in previous articles that there is some disagreement on this one: Most people would think (perhaps correctly) that a call across state lines would invoke federal laws (one-party consent), but the courts in at least one of the two-party states (can’t remember which) have indicated that the more conservative state law must be followed if the recording is to be used in legal proceedings in that state – i.e. if any party to the call is in a two-party state, everyone must be notified that the call is recorded.

    Also, I don’t think the issue of “the machine voice saying ‘This call may be recorded’ = permission to record” has been resolved in the courts at all.

    And finally, just to nit-pick a bit…it’s not really about one-party vs. two-party laws…it’s actually one-party vs. all-party. I wouldn’t want someone to think that a 3-way call with 2 of the 3 people getting notification of recording is legal in an all-party state, just b/c we all refer to it as a two-party state.

  32. BigElectricCat says:

    @macinjosh: If the person doing the recording is in a single-consent state, the status, intent and location of the other party is irrelevant.

  33. nadmonk says:

    Wow, makes me appreciate DishNetwork that much more. My wife and I had it, and loved it, but we had to move out of state to an apartment that would couldn’t mount a dish at. DishNetwork not only waived the early cancelation fee, but sent us shipping paid boxed to send the leased equipement back in. And since I have Timewarner now, you can image who I’ll be going back to as soon as we’re back in a house.

  34. unklegwar says:

    The old adage: “Get it in writing”.

  35. RandomZero says:

    IANAL, but the real question to me isn’t one-party vs two-party, but rather who the parties are (and arguably, what you consent to). If the parties are the rep and the customer, the rep has consented to recording as a condition of employment. (Whether this applies to recording by the customer is a potentially sticky issue, however.) If, on the other hand, the company itself is considered a party to the call, then it’s much trickier. (Does recording the call yourself grant implied consent to record?)

  36. AD8BC says:

    @B: True. However, the dish also needs to be able to point to the satellite, the OP may not be living on the right side of the building or there may be trees in the way that the landlord doesn’t want to trim. Not sure exactly what the OP is having difficulty with here.

  37. camman68 says:

    @thesabre:
    Sextuple – In 38 out of 50 states, it’s not illegal to record a call without both parties consent. Only one party has to be aware.

  38. @Pithlit: I hear you. I was promised the same thing and I raised holy ruckus. I called them beforehand, and asked if I would get locals, which the answer was yes. I bought and installed the dish myself, called to activate the box and they told me no locals for YOU!!

    I got them to put thru a waiver for NBC and FOX out of NY and L.A. Works for me, all I wanted to do was watch Nascar and House, haha. I also got them to give me a $4.95 credit every month, because my package included locals and I couldn’t get them and I had to pay for NBC and FOX seperately. So it all worked out, sorta.

  39. Buran says:

    @mtaylor924: They tell you “this call may be monitored or recorded” so granting you permission.

  40. kallawm says:

    @pithlit & verucalise: Keep fighting this. They told my parents the same thing, but they now have local channels, so it CAN be done. They just don’t want to.

  41. thalia says:

    Mustache rides!!!

  42. ShorashiNemean says:

    Comment on DirecTV Makes You Pay Termination Fee Even If You Can’t Use Their Service Regarding the early termination date, my parents cancelled DirecTV in
    favor of Comcast (don’t even ask me why, I don’t know). DirecTV,
    which had been awesome up to that point, cancelled their TV and
    internet services not five, six, or seven days, but ten solid days
    early.

    Of course, when my parents called Comcast to see if they could get
    someone to come to their house sooner than previously arranged, they
    not only said not a ice cube’s chance in hell, they never showed up
    on the arranged date and didn’t manage to hook it up until a week later.

    Well, you win some, you…

    Okay, really? You lose them all. But people gotta have their teevee.

  43. salguod_senrab says:

    @weakdome: I participated in the discussion, and I don’t think we resolved what effect “this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes” has in an all-party consent state.

    As mtaylor924 points out, this hasn’t been resolved in *any* state.

    My $0.02 is that (1) there’s an available interpretation of that recording which *does* give permission, (2) the legislative intent of all-party-consent laws is simply not targeted at this type of commercial conversation, and (3) the fact of third-party monitoring by the call recipient’s supervisors further weakens the the expectation of privacy that is driving the intent of these laws.

    When you combine what is arguably permission with the very weak claim that such caller recording is related to the motivation for the law, I’d be very, very surprised to see someone be prosecuted, much less convicted, for recording this type of call.

    Moreover, think of the blowback on the company pursuing such a claim. This, more than anything, probably explains why this has never been litigated.

  44. SkokieGuy says:

    Here’s Illinois law. My reading of it seems to imply that one party can record, however you basically can’t use the information in any way, and the person recording must delete within 24 hours, unless it meets the exemptions listed.

    Here’s an excerpt. The activity is criminal unless it meets the following criteria:
    (j) The use of a telephone monitoring device by either (1)
    a corporation or other business entity engaged in marketing or
    opinion research or (2) a corporation or other business entity
    engaged in telephone solicitation, as defined in this
    subsection, to record or listen to oral telephone solicitation
    conversations or marketing or opinion research conversations
    by an employee of the corporation or other business entity
    when:
    (i) the monitoring is used for the purpose of service
    quality control of marketing or opinion research or
    telephone solicitation, the education or training of
    employees or contractors engaged in marketing or opinion
    research or telephone solicitation, or internal research
    related to marketing or opinion research or telephone
    solicitation; and
    (ii) the monitoring is used with the consent of at
    least one person who is an active party to the marketing or
    opinion research conversation or telephone solicitation
    conversation being monitored.
    No communication or conversation or any part, portion, or
    aspect of the communication or conversation made, acquired, or
    obtained, directly or indirectly, under this exemption (j), may
    be, directly or indirectly, furnished to any law enforcement
    officer, agency, or official for any purpose or used in any
    inquiry or investigation, or used, directly or indirectly, in
    any administrative, judicial, or other proceeding, or divulged
    to any third party.
    When recording or listening authorized by this subsection
    (j) on telephone lines used for marketing or opinion research
    or telephone solicitation purposes results in recording or
    listening to a conversation that does not relate to marketing
    or opinion research or telephone solicitation; the person
    recording or listening shall, immediately upon determining
    that the conversation does not relate to marketing or opinion
    research or telephone solicitation, terminate the recording or
    listening and destroy any such recording as soon as is
    practicable. Here’s the link: [www.ilga.gov]

  45. B says:

    @nursethalia: Mustache rides: five cents*

    *Per month, with purchase of two year mustache ride contract. Actual price may vary, depending on options, state and local taxes. $175 Early Termination fee charged for cancellation of the contract for any reason.

  46. rmz says:

    @salguod_senrab: I pretty much agree with what you said. I think that, in general, it should not be illegal to record the telephone conversations that one has with a business when acting as a customer of that business. It simply would help to provide some form of communication record or accountability in the same way that a saved e-mail conversation can.

    It seems to me that the law in question was written when specifically thinking about telephone communications between two private parties (with no business relationship), which I think still probably should be covered.

    But that’s just my opinion :)

  47. JaneBadall says:

    A buddy of mine worked in sales for Earthlink about five years ago. At that time the salespeople were given a bonus based on the number of subscribers they had added that month.

    Here’s the kicker, if the salesperson lied to get a the sale (offering services that were not available for that area for example) and the account was soon closed, the sales person still kept the bonus. There was no retroactive accounting.

    Basically, once the sale is made, they get credit for it even if the entire sale is fraudulent.

    Seems like the same thing is going on here.

  48. Imhotep says:

    Almost the EXACT same thing happened to me! My apartment manager wouldn’t allow me to install the dish at my new place, so I had to cancel 1 year early. Directv tells me that’s fine, but to write their legal dept.(Attn: Billing Disputes P.O. Box 6550 Greenwood Village, CO 80155) and ask for a waiver. 1 week later I get a message telling me how sorry they are and that I’ll be free of their ETF.
    Guess what? My next bill has the ETF charged directly to my credit card. So, I call, tell them that legal already exempted me, and to refund me immediately. My next bill has a “Fee Reversal” shown, but no credit back to my card. The bill after that shows a “Programming Adjustment” negating the refund.
    Call after call over 5 months and they wouldn’t send my refund even though they agreed to. So I took consumerists advice sent the dreaded Executive Email CB.
    Triple Guess What? Carey’s assistant in the “office of teh president” calls me personally the very next day to tell me that indeed I would be receiving a credit to my card within 2-3 days, even though I was “charged correctly”.
    I guess they didn’t want to be charged for mail fraud. Escalation is key my friends.

  49. matto says:

    [www.dearchase.com]

    directv are lying, predatory, evil scumbags.

  50. Caveat says:

    They tried the same thing o me. I wanted a one year contract because I expect to be moving to Canada at the end of the year. They assured me (supervisor approved) that under the circumstances I would be able to cancel the contract after 12 months with no penalties. They came to install and of course I was asked to sign a 24 month contract. I refused to sign since I could not committ to 24 months and I certainly did not want to pay the hefty cancellation penalty that does not decrease even if you have paid for 23 months. I escalated to the president, and his lackeys called back. They apologized for the confusion and did not know how someone could have agreed to 12 months. They ONLY Have 24 month contracts, I was told. So I bought myself an HD antenna and I get great reception for free.

  51. trk182 says:

    Septuple guess what?

    It’s not illegal to record a conversation with a CSR, because the CSR side is already recording it for “quality service” reasons.

  52. dragonfire81 says:

    I used to work at Sprint and at least there, recordings supposedly of CSRs making claims are NEVER to be honored.

    I even heard a fellow agent one time saying “well sir, how do I know you and your buddy didn’t make that recording to try and get something out of us.”

    We could fail a call on a QA review and face disciplinary action if we did something on an account supposedly because the customer had a recording of us promising to do it.

  53. judus says:

    Directv is a bad company to do business with. They have no respect for there customers. They got me to on cancelation fees after telling me my commitment was up but still charged me a fee because I cancelled their service. Reason I cancelled was every month the service goes up in price. Its funny you can’t fight their increases. A contract or a commitment should go both ways. If they increase their price I should have the option to cancell without penalty. They are a bad, bad company to do any business with. Talk with rep. 100210807 and she will tell you tuff luck, pay up.

  54. forgottenpassword says:

    Good for the OP for recording the call. I’ve had my local cable company CSRs promise me one thing & then when I called back to confirm… go back on what they said…. one of the reasons why I refuse to have cable.

    Being that I live in a “one party consent” state…. I have often considered buying a small digital recorder to record all convos with all store employees, coworker/boss, landlord, & cust. rep phone call convos…. just in case. A simple digital recorder to keep in a shirt pocket that records over & over.

    Never know when it would come in handy.

  55. lessemm says:

    I fought with DirecTV for 6 months to get a working High-Def DVR.

    After spending hours on the phone and sending multiple e-mails to both the standard customer service address and the office of the president, I still did not have a working HD-DVR or a reasonable response to my requests.

    The only thing that worked was calling corporate headquarters in El Segundo and telling the switchboard operator that I was a dissatisfied customer who had been told by regular customer service that there was no one else who could help me.

    This got me forwarded to the Office of the President. This was obviously a group of CSRs that were tasked to dealing with people who had given up on the standard customer service channel.

    “Steve” was able to send the Denver Metro area “VIP” installer to check on my installation. Unlike the other two technicians who had been to the house, the VIP installer quickly concluded that my equipment was bad and gave me a brand new, not refurbished, HD-DVR.

    A few days later, without any additional contact from me, I received a credit for 6 months High-Def and DVR service.

    Lessons learned:

    1. DirecTV is capable of good customer service, but probably not via the standard channels.

    2. There is such a thing as a “VIP” installer who is willing/able to do things a standard tech may not be able to do.

    3. Sending e-mail to the President may not work — it did nothing for me.

    4. After exhausting regular channels, spend some free long distance minutes to call California. The number I used was:

    (310) 964-5000

  56. @SkokieGuy: The laws on recording phone conversations vary from state to state.

    [www.rcfp.org]

    When you are calling from one state to another the laws are very unsettled.

  57. Difdi says:

    I live in a two-party state, and I’m well aware that there’s a risk that the CSR might claim to be unaware of what the recorded message says before they pick up. So the very first thing I say after their opening spiel is “Hi, I’m *******, and since I live in a two-party notification state, and your recording says the call may be recorded, I give my permission for it to be recorded. I wouldn’t want you to be guilty of a felony, after all!”

    This serves the purpose of notifying both parties, ensures the CSR is aware of their end doing the recording, and doesn’t state directly that I will be recording (which will cause many CSR types to hang up instantly). But since both sides have a recording of the permission being given, I figure it ought to satisfy the law. AFAIK, no one has ever tested this, either way, in my state.

    Having a recording of the promises made by the company’s agent (which is what the CSR is, if they have the power to accept contracts on behalf of the company) is handy, since anything they promise, as being part of the contract, is legally binding on the company. If they’re not an agent, then any contract they offer you is invalid anyway.

  58. AgostoHorse says:

    Comment on DirecTV Makes You Pay Termination Fee Even If You Can’t Use Their Service DirecTV is the absolute worst company I have ever dealt with. Lie
    after lie after lie. As soon as my two years is up, I’m going back
    to cable.

  59. YankeeFan says:

    READ:

    I sent a letter to the carey chase and someone from office of the president called me back and fixed my issue (thanks comsumerist!!)

    But when I had another issue that CS was unwilling to fix, or even give me a straight awnser to, I thought, hey, lets call that lady’s direct line back, or even the 800 number to the office of the president…….

    Sure enough, both are no longer working numbers.

    I mention my story cause i was going to suggest the email, because the lady that used to be available to me was willing to let me out of my one year contract quick. G Luck!

  60. Consumer11 says:

    DirecTV let me leave early without EFT when I moved and no longer had southern facing view.

  61. cparker says:

    FWIW: In 2002, DirectTV let me out of my contract with no ETB when I moved to a place that couldn’t receive a signal.

  62. AndrewJC says:

    @Difdi: Just to be clear, even in two-party states, you do NOT need PERMISSION to record. Both parties to the recording simply need to be NOTIFIED that there is a recording.

    However, even in a two-party state, the CSR does not need to be told that the call will be recorded. As a condition of their employment, they have been notified and have agreed to being recorded by trainers and QA people. Nothing else would matter. Your opening spiel is certainly a good CYA maneuver, but it’s ultimately pointless, I think.

  63. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @trk182:

    Actually it is in some states, as the customer is told before the call begins that the call is being recorded, while the customer usually does not mention it, which makes it illegal since you can’t be recorded without your consent.

  64. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @AndrewJC:

    Yeah, recorded by their employer, not the customer. Just because they give consent to the employer does not mean they give consent to the customer.

  65. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @Difdi:

    If you call me in my state and don’t “directly” tell me you’re recording me, then it is illegal and worthless.

    I’m sure you thought you were slick, but that’s not how it works.

  66. gomakemeasandwich says:

    @lessemm:

    DirecTV is customer service hell for reasons that would need their own post on this site.

  67. AddisonMavenue says:

    moving from a nj apt w/ directv to a place in NYC w/o roof access or a terrace, they concurred etf had to be waived

  68. directvsucks says:

    I work at a Directv call center and be warned – the sales agents will say ANYTHING to get you to sign up for Directv. They flat-out lie to people everyday about the terms, commitment period, cancellation policy, extra fees and rebate offers. It’s a total nightmare that we as call center agents then have to do “damage control” with furious customers who were misled. I’ve learned now as a consumer – never sign up for a service that makes you commit to a period of service. If their service was any good, they wouldn’t need to trap people this way.

  69. robyneckard says:

    So what do we need to do to get this issue on CNN or in the mainstream media – help us out Consumerist!!
    I upgraded to the HD package in November and when I tried to cancel two months later, I was told that the upgrade to HD was an “AUTOMATIC” two-year contract and that I would owe them an early termination fee of almost $600. I kept the service and then moved a few months later to a location where I could not get service. DirecTV said too bad – you still owe us the two year fee – “THAT IS OUR POLICY.” Sorry! Since on the automatic debit plan – they removed the money from my bank account (please bend over now). Anyone else thinking class-action suit here????

  70. thatsme7039 says:

    are you guys out of your minds? listen to what this guy is saying. he was so paranoid about the answer givin to him that he calls back 4 times pretending to be a new customer inorder to verify that if he moves dtv will waive the etf yet he can’t take 5 minutes to read the customer agreement to ensure the correct answer? come on, i don’t think we are getting the whole story here. what kind of company would be willing to blow thousands of dollars on equipment,install and programing costs inorder to get someones 60 dollars a month for 7 months? when someone allows a dtv installer into their home to install thousands of dollars worth of FREE equipment they agree to maintain a certain level of programing for a certain period of time. dtv cannot help it if a consumer decides to move into a home that doesn’t allow satelite service. what kind of control can they possibly have over that? and speaking of not being honest, how honest is it to agree to a 18 or 24 month term when you know you won’t be able to keep the service that long? besides, who is to say that the customer is really moving? for all dtv knows the guy was pulling a big fat lie out of his ass to get out of his contract. sounds like the customer tried to pull a sneaky sneaky and got bit in the ass for it. serves him right.

  71. rhanzelka says:

    They have sent 3 technicians out here to repair and it still doesn’t work.I
    have currently notified FCC, BBB, and Attorney General for the state of
    Texas. I will continue to complain to everybody that has ears until the
    issues with your service are resolved one way or the other. Also the last
    technician that came to my house treated our property like a trash dump.
    There are connectors in the yard under the switch box on side of house that
    he cut off (great shrapnel for lawn mower to kill or harm children and
    unsuspecting passers by) and trash on floor from stripping wire etc behind
    living room TV. We have been promised a visit from a supervisor for over a
    week now to settle the issues that have gone on since the poor installation
    in November of ’07.

  72. rhanzelka says:

    We (wife and myself) entered a two year contract (that we understood at
    the time to be a one year contract)with Direct TV in late 2007. Big mistake!
    I have had problems with the service from the beginning. It started with
    shoddy installation that prohibited me from locking my home and protecting
    my family and valuables from break in. We are plagued with downtime due to
    faulty equipment that won’t even last through the contract period. When we
    request service on their defective equipment, they tell us they are going to
    charge us to fix their equipment. I had cablevision for 30 years prior to
    getting screwed by Direct TV. This is the worst service coupled with the
    worst product I have ever been stuck with in my entire life. The worst thing
    that ever happened with cablevision was being down for 2-3 hours once every
    year or two because of a down line. When I call Direct TV for service, they
    tell me it will be a week to ten days before they can get to me. So I am
    without television for that long but am still charged for it. I am also
    expected to take four to eight hours out of my work day every time Direct TV
    comes to my home. The last time I was told service would be performed
    between eight o’clock in the morning and noon. The technician did not even
    arrive onsite until 12:10 p.m. Service was not performed until after the
    agreed upon time that it would be completed. That was just two week ago. Now
    the service is broken again and we are told it will be another week before
    they can come to fix it. How long will the FCC go on allowing Direct TV to
    cheat and take advantage of customers? I would love to have the opportunity
    to do a commercial for cable television. After being subjected to customer
    service as poor as Direct TV, I know what the worst is. And to top it all
    off, when my wife negotiated this contract with Direct TV she was told that
    it was a one year agreement. Two weeks ago when we had trouble the last
    time, we were informed that it was a two year and not a one year contract
    that we originally agreed to. I suppose we can throw a little decptive trade
    in for good measure… huh? This is the worst experience I have ever had
    with any vendor in my 50 years and I will make sure I tell everybody that
    has ears to hear

  73. Anonymous says:

    Ah, DirecTV. I really wonder about those guys… I had their DSL service years back, until they abruptly pulled the plug on that business. Then I tried to sign up for their TV service, but couldn’t get a clear line of site to satellite (living in the woods as I do).

    Funny thing was that several months after the aborted attempt at TV service, I started receiving bills from DirecTV (get this) showing a CREDIT. Every month they were applying another $59.99 to my account. I made a frightful number of phone calls to DirecTV trying to get them to stop; it seemed they were crediting someone else’s payments to my account.

    FINALLY I found someone to address the issue. They sent me a nice letter thanking me for being a customer and saying they were sorry to cancel my account. Along with a refund check for my balance of over $300.

    Idiots. But they paid for my Tivo!

  74. zems says:

    I realize this thread is stale, but I’d like to share my experience for anyone googling and looking for help with this problem. I hope my story can help someone. Skip to the end to find out how to avoid an ETF if your landlord/building/homeowners association doesn’t permit satellite dishes.

    I had the exact same experience as the original poster. I moved into a co-op apartment where every aspect of the building is subject to board approval. They instated a policy the did not allow for satellite dishes to be installed anywhere on the building.

    In my first conversation with a DirecTV rep regarding this matter, I received the same information that the original poster did, that I would be let out of my contract if I couldn’t install a dish. I followed the procedure that DirecTV recommended: As soon as I moved, I had a technician come out to my new place and attempt to install the dish. When he found out that there was no access to the roof, etc, he submitted a report outlining these facts. I waiting the customary 24 hours before calling DirecTV again to officially cancel my service. Contrary to my original conversation with the rep, I was told that I would be charged an ETF. After much bickering, I decided to let it go.

    Here is the important part: DirecTV relentlessly sites an FCC regulation that requires landlords and homeowners associations to permit residents to install any communications devices on the building that they want. I took this as gospel, assuming DirecTV wouldn’t site the regulation incorrectly, but I refused to confront my new co-op association with this information, for fear of rocking the boat in my new building.

    Here is the 1st section of the FCC regulation:

    “The rule (47 C.F.R. Section 1.4000) has been in effect since October 1996, and it prohibits restrictions that impair the installation, maintenance or use of antennas used to receive video programming. The rule applies to video antennas including direct-to-home satellite dishes that are less than one meter (39.37″) in diameter (or of any size in Alaska), TV antennas, and wireless cable antennas. The rule prohibits most restrictions that: (1) unreasonably delay or prevent installation, maintenance or use; (2) unreasonably increase the cost of installation, maintenance or use; or (3) preclude reception of an acceptable quality signal.”

    Seems straightforward, and appears to support DirecTV’s claims. However, if you continue reading:

    “Under some circumstances where a central or common antenna is available, a community association or landlord may restrict the installation of individual antennas. The rule does not apply to common areas that are owned by a landlord, a community association, or jointly by condominium or cooperative owners where the antenna user does not have an exclusive use area. Such common areas may include the roof or exterior wall of a multiple dwelling unit. Therefore, restrictions on antennas installed in or on such common areas are enforceable.”

    There are two important bits of information here: One, if your building provides a common-use over-the-air antenna, then the homeowners association/landlord has the ability to restrict satellite dish installations. Second, and MOST important, if you don’t have EXCLUSIVE USE/control over a suitable area to install a dish, then the FCC regulations DO NO APPLY. So if you live on the 3rd floor of a 6 story apartment building, and the roof is off-limits to you, then DirecTV can not site the regulation. It is an incorrect interpretation!

    As soon as I called DirecTV and told them what I had learned by reading the FCC regs, I was immediately refunded the ETF that I had already paid. I didn’t even need to speak with a supervisor.

    Please forward this information to anyone whom it might benefit. It is despicable that DirecTV is able to misinterpret the FCC regulations for their own financial benefit.