I Lost My Job, Then My DirecTV, Then $680

Mary says DirecTV stuck it to her after she missed a payment. Not only did it cancel her service, but she says it charged $680 to her checking account for unreturned equipment — never mind the fact that she still had time left in her seven-day period to return the stuff.

She writes:

I’ve had DirecTV for over 5 years but have been underemployed since April with bill money just trickling in. I’ve worked with all my utilities to keep service and keep making regular payments that are satisfactory to everyone involved. DirecTV has been the only company unresponsive to my requests and soon after I missed my payment date, my service was disconnected which is unfortunate but understandable. I figured I’d pay off the late bill and eventually reinstate service when my situation improved. I received an email from DirecTV saying that they will be sending me an empty box for returning my DVR’s and that returning them within 7 days would avoid any fees and that they will send me a final bill.

On Friday I received the “DirecYV Equipment Recovery” box with an enclosed letter again stating that I will avoid any equipment fees by sending in my DVR’s within 7 days. I called Directv to make sure I knew exactly what they expected in the box and was again told my account had a past due balance but would not incur any additional charges if I returned the equipment and reinstated service within 9 months. At this point I was content with my contact with DirecTV. I packed the box and it was on my “to-do” list to drop off today (first business day after receiving the box). But before I left my house this morning I found an unathorized $680 charge to my bank account from Directv. After calling customer service, using the DirecTV twitter account, and sending out EECB’s, I was contacted by “David” from corporate (he would not give his last name) who I thought would explain the charges and reverse them since I still had 5 days to return the equipment. Instead he just repeated over and over, “How do I know I’ll get my equipment back?.”

I explained to him over and over again that the box was packed and going out today and they had no right to withdrawal hundreds of dollars without my notice but he refused to budge. At best he says he will return a portion of the charge when the equipment is returned and processed (minimum 6 day window.) I now have a giant financial mess on my hands because of my overdrawn account and my bank is investigating the charge.

I cannot believe it is legal for DirecTV to send me an email, a letter, and to verbally agree that I will not incur charges and then charge me 2 days later. I am not disputing whether I owe them for the past due balance, I am disputing their right to withdraw it from my card on file with no notice (since I am not on Auto-pay), I am disputing the equipment charges when I clearly have more time to return it, and I am disputing their idea that because they sense a risk of equipment loss (despite my constant contact with them), that they have the right to charge me before I have ample time to return their equipment.

I have tried everything to be the best, although temporarily unemployed, consumer possible but I really just want to know what recourse I have at this point.

Surely some of you have dealt with DirecTV’s creepy underbelly before and have some words of advice for Mary. No fair to say “make your payments on time,” because that’s not the issue here.

(Photo: Maulleigh)

Comments

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  1. temporaryerror says:

    Yet another reason to be wary of auto-billing, esp. when it’s linked to a checking account. It is really convenient and most times there won’t be a problem, but when a problem does occur it can be difficult to get rectified. There is a reason why companies offer incentives to get you to sign up with auto billing.

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      @temporaryerror:

      Read more than the headline next time.

      • OldSpinDoc says:

        @wrjohnston91283: Yea, but that still doesn’t explain why there’s, “a card on file.”

        DirecTV certainly has no card or similar account number of mine on file. Why did this person?

        Just ask’n…

        • katstermonster says:

          @OldSpinDoc: A lot of companies put a card on file as collateral, if you will, against equipment loss/damage. DirecTV doesn’t do this? Perhaps she pays by credit card, but not on autopay, so they stole it from there? No idea, just thinking out loud…

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @OldSpinDoc: @katstermonster: DirecTV used to have my card on file. It’s how I paid my bill.

        • H3ion says:

          @OldSpinDoc: When I had DirecTV I had a credit card on file and they would send me a statement each month asking if I would authorize the charge to that credit card. I would guess that if I started missing payments, they would have charged the card.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @OldSpinDoc: i had to put a card on file with directv to sign up online/with referral credit. it was worth it to me to get the $21 off a month for the online package and $10 off a month for the referral from my sister and the free DVR upgrade.

          fortunately, i used a card that was about to expire and the wrong CCV/expiration date on file is likely to kick back unauthorized charges long enough for me to straighten it out.

    • AHepburnGuy says:

      @temporaryerror: I concur. I always am wary to accept anything a company pushes on me. Usually they’re doing it cause it gets them more money. I’ve (stupidly) autobilled Verizon and Zipcar in the past and both resulted in me paying numerous fees.

    • pop top says:

      @temporaryerror: RTFA: “…I am disputing their right to withdraw it from my card on file with no notice (since I am not on Auto-pay)…”

      • Quake 'n' Shake says:

        @squinko: I like how you pointed out that temporaryerror missed the “not auto-pay” part. I don’t like how you were rude about it. I missed that part too myself. It’s an easy enough mistake to make that doesn’t require a meme smackdown.

      • prag says:

        @squinko: I believe @temporaryerror’s point is still somewhat valid. If Mary had kept a credit card on file with DTV instead of a debit card then she’d be in better shape. I don’t like debit cards. There I said it ;)

      • temporaryerror says:

        @squinko:
        Hooray Golden Poo! That was my mistake, as I kind of skimmed it. I read that as “I am on auto-pay.” I like to read at work, but don’t always have the time to scrutinize. I’ve learned my lesson!
        And for the record, I wasn’t blaming the OP… I was making a statement about auto bill. I use auto bill myself. Geez.

    • JohnDeere says:

      @temporaryerror: you win the golden poo award for the day.

    • coffeeculture says:

      @temporaryerror: yeah i only auto-pay my mortgage, gas, electric, and water…call it maslow’s hierarchy applied to bill payments!

      • webweazel says:

        @coffeeculture: I know somebody who had their mortgage on an auto pay. Their mortgage company had a “computer error” and decided to charge their monthly mortgage TWICE in one month, 1st and 10th, then refused to refund THEIR error. Needless to say, their other bills went into overdraft, and you can figure out the rest of this story.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @temporaryerror: She doesn’t have automatic billing. She said so in the article.

      • temporaryerror says:

        @ChuckECheese:
        Yes, I know. please see my post 3 up. I made the mistake of just skimming before posting and read it as “I am on auto-pay.” Yes, I made an error, however I think a simple post correcting me would have been sufficient, rather than a string of posts saying essentially the same thing. But, whatever. That’s the tubez for you.

  2. SillyinPhilly says:

    I have had nothing but great service from Direct TV. Maybe it is because I live in Comcast’s stronghold of Philadelphia. I would send another EECB with a link to this site.

  3. zigziggityzoo says:

    It’s still visa/mastercard. Call them directly and initiate a chargeback.

    If that doesn’t work, sue them in small claims court. Some states allow you to sue for 2-3x actual damages to cover incidentals/stress in small claims court without having to prove undue hardship, etc.

    So if you want to skip the chargeback and just head down and plunk $10-30 for the small claims suit for $1360+, It wouldn’t be a bad idea.

    • PølάrβǽЯ says:

      @zigziggityzoo: I concur. Small claims is a lot easier than most people think. That, and she has all the documents they sent her saying she had plenty of time to send the equipment back without being charged.

      • kc2idf says:

        @Ursus Maritimus: Be aware that some small claims courts require that there be an entity within the court’s jurisdiction that can be sued on behalf of of the greater corporate entity. I ran into this brick wall when I tried to sue SlyDial.

    • humphrmi says:

      @zigziggityzoo: Most small claims courts do not award punitive damages, only actual out-of-pocket costs. The 2-3 times “stress” costs you mentioned would be considered punitive.

      Also, by the time she filed the paperwork and got them served and a first appearance scheduled, they’d probably have refunded everything except the original amount she owed them (her missed payment) so court would be moot.

    • Difdi says:

      @zigziggityzoo: Even in states where small claims is limited to actual damages, actual damages can be fairly extensive. If you suffer overdraft fees and late payments incurred because someone double billed you, or otherwise billed more than they were entitled to, for example. It’s their action that caused the financial hardship, after all.

  4. katstermonster says:

    Waltz over to the bank with the information about having 7 days to return the equipment and see if they can do anything. There may be a loophole in the contract for them to do this, but I’ll bet with those letters, the bank will be willing to go to bat for you, to some extend. Or at least waive the overdrawn fees, etc.

  5. legwork says:

    Ouch.

    Never, ever give companies auto-debit authorization to your primary bank accounts.

    At the bare minimum, set up a separate account just for non-critical vendor use and fund it as required.

  6. civicmon says:

    Ya know, this is exactly the reason why I never auto-bill ANYTHING to my bank account, only a credit card with a small limit (sub-$1000) and more consumer protections.

    Exceptions to the “no-bank” rule would be absolute essentials, such as a mortgage/rent payment, but even then, I like to control when I authorize payment.

    This individual could get help by challenging the debit with her bank as being unauthorized. This won’t hurt to try until she gets more help from DirecTV.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    One of the first things we did when I was laid off was go to our DirecTV account online and cut off all unneccesary services. What we were aiming to do was whittle down the amount of money we had to spend while still keeping service in order to a) not go crazy and b) chip away at the ETF.

    We ended up canceling anyway because we moved away, but by the time we cancelled our service and paid the ETF, we had saved about $60 from negotiating with reps and from cutting a second receiver. And we had successfully chipped away a good portion of the ETF.

    My advice to Mary is to launch an EECB, find the executive phone numbers on Consumerist, hammer them with phone calls, and be able to explain your story succinctly, and with resolute thoughts. Don’t get weepy, just get firm on what you want them to do. At this point, you shouldn’t be emotionally distraught, you should be upset and angry with them and you need to make that point across. Sympathy card won’t play here, and they’ll surmise they’ve already lost a customer for life through their actions – your tactic should be damage control. Be very clear on your terms. You want your money back, and they need to return all of it.

    • MsEllenT says:

      @pecan 3.14159265: “My advice to Mary is to launch an EECB” …

      She did that. Her best bet right now is to take it up with her bank, showing she still had time to return the equipment.

  8. GitEmSteveDave_OverSleptThisMorn says:

    Co-caine!

    Oh wait, this isn’t a country song. My bad.

  9. topherbraun says:

    They did this to me, too. It took letters to the CEO, phone calls, more phone calls, a charge dispute and three months to get my $500 back. The worst part? A CSR admitted that they took the charge even though the equipment was returned a day BEFORE the due date, which is a too-short window anyway.

    I implore the NY State Attorney General’s office to look into these illegal and unauthorized abuses by Direct TV. They are illegally using direct banking and credit card numbers.

  10. trellis23 says:

    DirectTV is no doubt in the wrong for charging for lost equipment before the seven days were up.

    But on an unrelated note, why did the person still subscribe to DirectTV for 7 months after losing her job? I haven’t had cable/satellite in over seven years because I don’t feel I can afford it, and I’ve had a full-time job the entire time. Priorities people, priorities.

    The reality is, all these companies that Consumerist reports on, can screw us around, because they know that we are completely addicted to buying. And she has proven it. She should have canceled it no less than five months ago, if not immediately. She shouldn’t have been waiting until they canceled it for non-payment. Especially, if her unemployment continues… she doesn’t need extra stuff cluttering up her credit score. More often than not, we ARE victims of our choices, not circumstance.

    • P=mv says:

      @trellis23: @pecan 3.14159265: I would immediately have contacted the fraud department at DirectTV and informed them that they charged my card without authorization.

      I have had this happen to me but it was on a CC card. I eventually contacted my CC company and got things resolved.

      Whether or not she owes this money, and I know she didn’t at the time she was charged, has nothing to do with whether or not DirectTV had the right to place a charge on her card.

      She’s got a big problem since the card they used seems to be a debit card. This is why I don’t even allude to these companies that I have a debit card. Even in an emergency. I’d start talking to my bank at this point. They have a fraud department too.

    • LastError says:

      @trellis23: Having equipment she had to return is a clue: she was leasing the receiver(s) and may well have been under a contract (12 months or 24 months, whatever).

      I’ve had DirecTV for years and I own all my gear. None of it belongs to them. A few years ago, they stopped selling receivers and began leasing them. Dish Network does the same thing. When you quit service, you have to send the receivers back.

      The alternative is to go find some used receivers on Ebay or whatever and install them yourself and get DTV to send out a new access card and you are good to go. Never have to send back the gear, though they may ask for the card back.

  11. shoelace414 says:

    You won’t get any satisfaction from anywhere in the DirecTV universe. you could be a personal friend of the moustached one and it wouldn’t help.

  12. SG-Cleve says:

    She’s not on auto-pay. She does have a card number on file. They charged the card on file and the money was withdrawn from her checking account.

    This tells me that the card on file was a DEBIT card and not a credit card.

    So I think the lesson here is that you are much safer using a credit card than a debit card.

  13. wolf3345us says:

    I have Directv and I had issues with them when the bill is late. They pretty much refuse to work with people at all. This story is defiantly making me consider Dish Network.

  14. clayfree says:

    I was a DirecTv subscriber in 1994 and used to love the company but over the years they have become just like any other cable co. This past year I finally decided I was paying too much for what I was getting. Having to pay for receivers but not owning them, etc, etc, etc. Earlier in the summer I cancelled and could not be happier. There are too many alternative sources out there to feel trapped by these bad companies.

  15. CompyPaq says:

    Actually, if you have it in writing that they would not charge you, it is illegal for them to charge you. Contact your state’s attorney general, and file in small claims. You have a VERY good case.

  16. lalaland13 says:

    The OP may also want to contact a local paper or news station; this may be one of those consumer issues they like to report on occasionally. Especially since they can tie it into the recession.

    DirecTV horrifies me, even more so after reading all the stories about them on Consumerist. I get letters from them frequently because I once stupidly signed up for info when I was moving and considering getting their service. Luckily they don’t have anything more on me than that, because it seems like once you sign up, you better not try to cancel service or they will screw you over. Plus, they have the most awful and incessant commercials.

  17. sven.kirk says:

    If you CERTAIN that it has been 5 years and that you have not gotten any new receivers within that time, YOU OWN THEM.
    You are free to do what you want to do with the receiver that you wish. Sell, give, burn, or even return them.
    As of March 2006, they started the lease program where you return the unit after you end service.
    Dish always had the lease program.

  18. jp says:

    Almost the same happen to me. But because I didn’t have a card on file with them, they sent a letter to me from a ‘collection agency’ which was really them. Once they got the equipment back the letters stopped. The corporate phone #’s I used during my months of Hell with this company were 310-964-5000 and 800-455-2180

  19. Red Cat Linux says:

    I guess I’m missing the boat on how DirectTV had her bank account info to begin with.

    If someone strips the information off a check then does an EFT, that has just got to be illegal.

    I’m sure that there is fineprint somewhere in Mary’s contract that authorizes DTV to regain equipment or fees by any means necessary, but this seems above and beyond.

    I’d work with the bank with all the other notification DTV sent you and get the charge reversed as an unauthorized EFT. At least until she’s in danger of running out of time on the return deadline. Then if possible, return the items in person, and only relinquish them if given an official DTV receipt. If mailing, better use signature or delivery confirmation.

    If I thought their gear was actually worth the charge they slapped Mary with, I’d say keep it and sell it to recover your money. :P

    That wouldn’t help her with the cascading effect of the overdraft though.

  20. keepher says:

    Why do people keep tying these things to their checking accounts? I never, ever use my checking account for this type of payment or sign up. They have to accept my AMEX or I don’t do business with them. Any time I’ve had a problem, last time it was the Dish Network account in our motor home, I called AMEX and it was reversed on the spot.

    Banks can not or will not stop it that quickly.

  21. chiieddy says:

    I wonder if, somewhere in the DirectTV contract, it says they have the right to keep a credit card (or debit card as in this case) on file and charge any fees to it and if she agreed to this when signing up.

    It’s dirty and low-down, which is why I don’t put it past them.

    I’m glad I didn’t convert to satellite when I ditched my cable in the latest move. Hulu has been working wonderfully and I have a new AppleTV to hook up with Boxee. :-)

  22. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    NEVER EVER EVER EVER give a company access to your bank accounts… NEVER EVER EVER EVER!

    Every time a service supplier tries to up-sell me their services they ask to have my banking details. This results in wild laughter from me as I explain that I will go without their services before I allow their hand in my pocket. Hell I don’t even have a credit card with my bank!

    …sorry folks, I get a little emotional on this one…

  23. amcfarla says:

    I had the same issue with directv, I had to have a HD receiver switched out because of malfunction. Directv sent me a new receiver and gave me a 10 day window to send the malfunctioning receiver back to them to not be charge. I sent the box back the day I received it and Fedex said they received it, but then 10 days later I get a $400 dollar charge from directv saying they did not receive the receiver. Well after investigating they found that they had received the receiver and it was not reported as returned yet they still wouldn’t refund my money for nearly 15 days after this so I was in a financial pinch because of this error. I did give quite a few of the customer support analysts a piece of my mind because of this error, but after this issue I stopped the automatic bill payer service so they couldn’t do this again. I don’t have a good answer other than to possibly contact a Executive at directv to see if they can be of assistance.

  24. XTC46 says:

    Check your original contract, most indicate that they can take the remianing balance from the creditcard which they have on file when you cancel or are overdue.

  25. props-nyc says:

    its funny how all of these sort of posts turn into a bunch of people saying “don’t use debit cards as a payment method”

    due to credit issues a lot of people, including myself up until a year ago, don’t really have a choice in the matter. should we be denied protection from fraudulent and unethical business practices?

    if you are taking the position that you shouldn’t use any service we can’t pay for on credit, then it kinda sounds like you are ignoring the wrongful practice of DirectTV in this matter.

  26. digisplicer says:

    File a police report and then take them to small claims court. Enjoy money!

  27. FriskyDingo says:

    I went through a similar situation where DirecTV billed me before I returned the box. I was able to get my money credited back after using DirecTV corporate email list that the Consumerist provided. After being contacted by senior level management, I was surprised by the speed in which the situation was fixed, after weeks of frustrating phone calls to DirecTV

  28. bohemian says:

    This type of situation is exactly why we decided not to get DirectTV when we were shopping for a new cable provider.

    The ETF and 2 year contracts they hide in the fine print was too much to commit to. What if we move, have a major life catastrophe like job loss or major illness.

    The insane and premature equipment fee is just another reason to question DirectTV’s practices.

    I don’t let anyone auto-bill and don’t give any business any sort of “card on file” situation. We push all of our payments from our bank bill pay.

  29. cranke says:

    Why would anyone want Dish when you could have HDTV (or at least standard) via internet?

    Better selection, more control, cheaper price.

  30. Zagroseckt says:

    ok i hate to say this but when you signed your orginal contract you gave them premishon to take that last payment for equipment or late charges…. at signing. to the account on the contract.

    i’ve had to put up with this kinda thing before myself

    As far as the Equipment fee you can take them to civil and get that back becos they broke there side of the contract by not honnering there side of giving you xx days to return the equipment. in that fact if indeed it is that they have broken there contract with you.

    Remember folks. DTV will pause your acount upto 6 months easy and 9 if you ask nicely under vacation clauses this pushes the end date of your contract out the time you take off but it’s better than a supprise.

    Otherwise.
    Tell the bank not to honner any transactions from them and change your CC # becos you allredy agreed to pay it. when you signed up.

    PPS
    it’s in the contract the installer brings.
    ppps
    Do your self a favor and BUY the equipment outright dont let them rent it to you. they might compleain but it’s the law they have to allow you to buy the equipment at your request same as a cable company.

  31. My Head Hurts says:

    Dish did the same thing to me. I called and it was reversed within 2 days. I removed any saved debit card/bank info and stopped paying, this time they had no way to charge me and instead sent a bill.

  32. Jack'sPumpkinQueen says:

    My mom had the SAME problem. They took the $600 out of her account before her time to return the equipment was up. Then, they took another few days to return it and went ahead and deducted her last month’s bill ($118) out of the $600.00. So, they only returned $482.00. My mom initially cut Direct TV because she lost her job. What a great time to be out of $600 and not sure when you’ll get it back.

    Now, 8 months later, they are billing her for the $118.00 that they have already taken out of the $600, claiming that she never paid it and is still due.

    These are the kind of idiots we have to deal with.

  33. Hoss says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: Surely a large company wouldn’t be so stupid as to fraudulently charge a card without authorization? Maybe the initial contract required a credit card number with authorization to make a charge if the contract is breached in any way. But if she had service for 5 years and the contract was that old, it doesn’t feel right that they should charge a card without current telling her. Maybe they are that stupid

  34. rpm773 says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: It seems to me this is more grievous than the unwarranted equipment charge itself.

    If were with DirecTv, I’d remove any and all payment information, whether payments were initiated by DirecTv or not, to prevent this from happening.

  35. HalOfBorg says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: The posting says:
    “I found an unathorized $680 charge to my bank account from Directv.”

    but also

    “I am disputing their right to withdraw it from my card on file”

    so I am confused about this part. If she has 7 days to return the equipment they should have no right to charge before then. I can understand them WANTING to charge it now, then refund it when the equipment arrives (extra incentive), but it’s still wrong.

  36. humphrmi says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: I agree with you on that point, however it highlights an important rule when establishing a new business relationship: never, ever give them a credit card number – security deposit or otherwise – unless you agree to allow them to charge to it.

    There are ways to get around equipment security deposits. Cash deposits work, but obviously then you don’t have access to your cash. In some cases, I’ve managed to get companies to waive equipment deposits by leveraging their competition.

    Which of course is all “lessons learned” now for the OP, who needs to try to get back her badly needed money.

  37. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @rpm773: I agree. She never gave permission for them to do that, so the fact that they did is much more grievous – however, $650 is a ton of money, so I see how that is taking precedence.

    @HalOfBorg: It seems like DirecTV may have made a huge error – and I sense that perhaps the OP had a debit card on file, and that’s why she sees the $650 deduction from her bank account. What’s done is done, but the side lesson here is that one should not be using a debit card to pay bills.

  38. Dondegroovily says:

    @legwork: But, you have a point legwork – Why do they even have his bank account info? Obviously he gave it to them.

  39. mrm514 says:

    @squinko:
    You keep repeating that same line, and there is really no need for that. People understand that the OP is NOT on autopay, but the OP specifically says their bank account was charged $640. They are all simply suggesting that the card on file not be a debit, but a credit card.

  40. pop top says:

    @Dondegroovily: They probably could’ve gotten the information from when she’s paid her bills before.

  41. ahleeeshah says:

    @Dondegroovily: Some companies will auto-save your credit card/bank account info when you use it to make a payment on something without using auto-pay. This got me into a lot of trouble once, as the saved info was incorrect and the payments I was making would bounce back each time along with hefty fees.

  42. LJKelley says:

    @Dondegroovily: DirecTV requires that you provide a credit or debit card to sign up for service, just so they can be **sholes when you leave. I told them I was leaving due to hard times, to send me a bill etc. And I would be back if my economic situation improved. I returned the equipment but they still autobilled my last bill without my permission. I called them up and told them they lost a customer for good.

  43. civicmon says:

    @mrm514: I did mis-read the auto-pay part as quoted, but even then, situations like this are why a debit card isn’t on file. It’s essentially a blank check to the company who has my number on file.

  44. pop top says:

    @mrm514: So when someone writes “…this is exactly the reason why I never auto-bill ANYTHING to my bank account…”, they aren’t talking about auto-billing?

  45. mrm514 says:

    @squinko:
    I think you’re just getting caught up in wordplay :)

  46. katstermonster says:

    @mrm514: No. Squinko is not getting caught up in wordplay. The comment in question specifically states that the individual never uses auto-bill, which is another word for auto-pay. I would never call having a debit card on file for manual pay anything starting in the prefix auto, which stands for automatic.

  47. Quake 'n' Shake says:

    @squinko: I can’t say no to a kitten…

  48. stormbird says:

    @squinko: I’m going to waive the rudeness penalty due to the use of a lolcat.

    Does anyone else think out grandchildren will only be able to communicate in lolspeak?

  49. katstermonster says:

    @temporaryerror: I know what RTFP stands for, thanks. My head was spinning from all the blaming of the OP that I didn’t see that your original post had an error but no OP-blaming. Sorry about that!

  50. temporaryerror says:

    @katstermonster:
    No problem! I usually try to read the full article but did a less than stellar job this time.

  51. SpoonyBard says:

    @LJKelley: @catastrophegirl: Directv, as a company policy, requires a card on file when you set up an account. They do this specifically to charge fees and things to you if you try to skip out early, don’t return leased equipment, etc.

    I just got out of a week-long contract dispute with them, wherein they tried to claim I was inside a two-year contract that I had never agreed to. That’s another topic well-covered on the Consumerist, so I won’t get into the details. While dealing with that, however, I came to learn that there are multiple class-action lawsuits in progress against Directv for exactly this sort of behavior.

    While you can’t remove your credit card info from the system yourself, you can replace it. Once I learned of some of their more underhanded tactics, I immediately logged in and replaced my card info with a valid-but-inactive credit number. You can find these online with a quick google search, but one example is a Visa with the number 4111-1111-1111-1111. It meets the website’s “valid” criteria, but it’s obviously not a real card number.

    Too late to help the original poster, I know.