DirecTV To Raise Rates Feb. 1 — Can I Get Out?

Chris wants out of his DirecTV contract, and hopes that the upcoming rate increase (PDF link) will let him run free.

He writes:

I have a question that I was wondering you could help answer for me and possibly many others. DirecTV just sent me an e-mail stating that they are raising prices for all of their packages and adding a dollar to each leased receiver. As of now, I’m about 7 months into my 1 year contract with them. Unfortunately, they have given us less than stellar service and I was wondering if I could use this opportunity to drop them and get out of my 1 year service contract without any penalties or fees. Is this possible?

A DirecTV spokesman told us its contracts do not let customers opt out due to a rate hike:

Price increases are covered in the customer agreement (the customer agreement states that prices are subject to change) so they are not an occasion to opt out. It’s become standard practice for all TV providers raise to rates once a year to keep up with accelerated programming costs. We’ve kept ours at a very modest level that is lower than most of our competitors.

New rates for DirecTV service (PDF) [DirecTV]

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. KyBash says:

    So now my DirecTV will only be $43.17 a month cheaper than cable rather than $44.17. How horrible! They can’t do this to us! Why doesn’t Congress do something?

    If I hadn’t just come out of a week with perfect reception while all the neighbors with cable were SOL because of weather-related problems, I’d probably be righteously furious.

    • anarkie says:

      Right there with ya on that one. Comcast has screwed up the local TV service badly. DirecTv has done great by me. I think the very few random seconds of problems a year beat the constant problems Comcast had.

      I was nervoud before I went with them. Not any more.

    • Parsnip says:

      Agreed. We had a major, major snowstorm last week, and I was certain we were going to lose signal for a day or two until we could get up on the roof. We didn’t lose it at all. At the height of the storm, we had near white out conditions, and ended up with close to 20 inches of snow. I couldn’t believe we had signal the entire time.

      The comcast trucks were out in full force the next day. I assume this means my neighbors lost their service.

      • KyBash says:

        Since I fine-tuned my dish’s settings, it takes a major slow-moving storm to knock out the signal for more than a minute or two, and a storm that severe is bound to drop a cable or two somewhere in town.

        The biggest plus, to my way of thinking, is that no matter how bad it gets, you can clean/readjust your dish and everything’s back to normal. When a cable drops or an amplifier fries or anything else happens with cable, it’s out for days until someone else gets around to fixing it.

  2. hennese says:

    DIsh and DirecTV are all pretty much the same pricewise – I thought DirectTV guarenteed their prices though for the length of the contract… ($29.99 for a year!!!!!!!!!!!)

    • mirrorball says:

      From the .pdf

      “If your current DIRECTV base package price is part of a national promotional 12-month offer, you will continue to receive this price for the remainder of your
      offer period”

      • nbs2 says:

        My problem is that every offer I see is for a 12 month price lock-in, but 24 month contract commitment. If I could sign up for a locked in price for the length of my commitment, I wouldn’t have a problem signing up (I might not get a lot of use out of it, but there are some things that I wouldn’t mind watching).

    • dolemite says:

      From my research, Dish is quite a bit cheaper than Direct.

      • Joseph S Ragman says:

        Yeah, right … we don’t have to pay so much because of all the shopping and religulous channels we get.

  3. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    We just switched from DirecTV to Dish. Even after having to pay an ETF, once all is said and done we’ll be saving a good amount of money and get a much better package.

    And, another plus – apparently Dish just dropped E! and Style…hooray! Glad to see they won’t be wasting space on my channel guide.

    • synimatik says:

      I’ve been really unhappy with both the Dish programming and the customer service. I’ll be long gone in Feb. when my contract expires.

    • surfphoto says:

      Oddly, we did just the opposite. For comparable service our DTV ends up being cheaper than Dish, even with their new customer packages.

  4. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “accelerated programming costs”?

    What have I gotten recently worth watching? I see nothing “accelerating”.

    • frank64 says:

      But some people would complain and drop service without those channels, and the providers are raising the costs of those channels on EVERYONE. I am sure there are some channels that you want that others don’t. A bad system for sure. That is why I have OTA and Netflix.

  5. esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

    So, I guess OP didn’t RTF(PDF).
    Very first line states… “If your current DIRECTV base package price is part of a national promotional 12-month offer, you will continue to receive this price for the remainder of your offer period.” So, he will still pay the same for the next 5 months and then his contract will be up. Nothing changes for him. Looks like he just wants the easy way out.

    • djkrztoff says:

      That’s not necessarily true. My DirecTV contract gave me promotional pricing for the first year, but the contract is actually 2 years. If you’re past that 1 year mark, it sounds as if you’re subject to whatever rate hikes they want to apply; which is troubling.

      • Papa Bear says:

        Part of a 12-month program does not mean it can’t be a two-year contract.

        • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

          They give you a 12 month discount. You HAVE to sign up for a 2 year contract to get the discounted rate. After the first 12 months, they can screw you any way they want.

      • esp13 has a pony named Steve says:

        OP stated that he has a 1 year contract. Also, it depends what kind of deal you get. I just signed a 2 year contract right before Xmas. I save $30 a month the first year and $20 a month the second year. After that, these, and whatever new rate hikes are implemented would apply to me. If they tried to change the terms of the contract, I believe the consumer then has the right to not accept the new terms and be released without penalty. I was able to break out of my Sprint contract 4 months in because they were adding a $5 charge if i didn’t enroll in autopay.

  6. Daggertrout says:

    “accelerated programming costs”? You would think all those Law & Order reruns would get cheaper every year.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Maybe NBC is raising the re-transmission rates in anticipation of the Comcast merger being approved?

  7. slyabney says:

    Interesting. The package I have isn’t on that list. Although my receivers will be going up.

  8. ChuckECheese says:

    Not entirely off-topic here …
    Lately I’m getting ads from businesses (gym, AAA, cable company) urging me to ‘lock in’ my current rates – by signing one- or two-year contracts of course – to avoid inevitable fee increases.

    • dolemite says:

      I just gone one of those for my natural gas. They wanted me to lock in the current rate. I may be mistaken, but I’d think winter is going to be the highest rate due to supply and demand.

  9. gnubian says:

    Oh crap!! I’m going to get stuck for an extra $3 a month .. Now I have to work an extra 45 minutes to pay for it.

    I heard about the price changes last week, just didn’t have the amounts until today. The amounts aren’t overwhelming.

    On the bright side, if you don’t subscribe to the Showtime Package, there’s a freeview that starts on the 7th.

    • sonneillon says:

      You don’t get paid enough.

      • gnubian says:

        I obviously commented before my coffee took effect .. Oh crap!! I’m going to get stuck for an extra $3 a month .. Now I have to work an extra 45 minutes to pay for it. … should have been …

        Oh crap!! I’m going to get stuck for an extra $36 a year .. Now I have to work an extra 45 minutes to pay for it.

  10. Flyersfan says:

    Feb 1!!!! How do I get on that plan? My rates went up with the January billing cycle. It’s still less than a comparable package on cable and I still refuse to send money directly to Comcast (yes I know the Flyers are owned by the same company let’s not discuss that) so I’m not switching but still. I’d like to keep my $2 another month anyway.

    • cigsm says:

      Yeah it’s hard to get around not paying Comcast anything if you watch any Philly sports teams, use Fandango, watch FearNET, or E! or Style and soon to be any NBC / Universal channel. Among many many other things.

  11. Papa Bear says:

    The key here is to read your contract. If you entered into an agreement with a locked-in price for a specific amount of time, then you have a complaint. If not, there is no complaint. Even if you have a locked in date and price, the notice may have been sent as part of a bulk mailing and your price is safe and not going to go up until the end of your contract. Read all of the terms of you contract before complaining, though. That way you will be will armed if you do have a complaint.

  12. Southern says:

    So theoretically, they could raise their rates to $500 a month, and everyone would have no choice but to pay it, or to pay the ETF?

    That doesn’t sound right.

  13. vastrightwing says:

    That’s interesting, I’ve been with my over the air provider, and I haven’t seen a rate increase yet. How do they do it?!

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      Amazing isn’t it? For close to 60 years with no price increase!

      And I never once had to call customer service.

    • greggen says:

      They increase the time the commercials run, thats how they do it.. You pay by watching their commercials..

  14. 420greg says:

    So if I understand this. You can be in a 2-year direct tv contract. They can raise the price $100 a month and you would not be able to get out of the contract?

    I don’t think that would hold up in court no matter what you signed.

    • Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

      You’re dealing with Pay TV here. Read their contracts. They’ve been getting away with it for years.

    • dragonfire81 says:

      You think wrong. You can put all kinds of stupid stuff in a contract and make it hold in court.

  15. padarjohn says:

    Ha! I don’t know if I would call their increases “modest”. In the 3 years since I upgraded to HD DirecTV has raised the rates 4 or 5 times, the first time within a couple of months of locking me in to a new 2-year contract. The package price has risen 20% and the DVR service fee went up over 30%. What cost me $64/mo quickly went up to $75/mo, and now the package price is going up another 5%.
    I’ve been a happy DirecTV customer since 2004, but this is going to make me take a serious look at Fios.

    • The_Fuzz_53 says:

      I’m doing the same, as I already have Fios internet service. The problem with Fios is that that they really fuck you with rental fees on the boxes. $20/mo for a whole home HDDVR and $10/m per HD receiver, so that’s $40/mo just in boxes for me.

  16. coren says:

    Yeah, let’s not trust a DTV employee on whether people can get out of the contract. Cell phone companies try to tell you the same thing, but they have a clause in the contract that says otherwise. Which brings me to my main point.

    do you have a “materially adverse” clause in your contract? Because my understanding (which is not perfect, and IANAL) is that if there is such a clause, it will allow you to escape your contract. I know most cell phone contracts have them. I’ve no idea if DTV is the same.

  17. PupJet says:

    “It’s become standard practice for all TV providers raise to rates once a year to keep up with accelerated programming costs”

    “DirecTV just sent me an e-mail stating that they are raising prices for all of their packages and adding a dollar to each leased receiver.”

    I don’t see why he couldn’t since they are also increasing the price of the receiver when the spokesperson states that they cannot get out because of PROGRAMMING cost increase. Last I checked, the receiver only descrambles the signal and is not part of the ‘programming’ lineup (unless someone can point out what channel its on).

  18. markrubi says:

    i just viewed my current bill. Guess what I am being billed the new rates already. On the phone with Directv now for an explanation. Check your bills people… It was an accident is what I was told and being credited $3.00..

    • markrubi says:

      BTW these charges were applied to my account on 12/18/2010.. Seriously check your recent history and see what it says for your current package..

  19. PencilSharp says:

    For Southern and 420greg and all others about to bust out the old “So this means DirecTV can charge me xxx and I can’t escape my contract?” argument:

    Yes. That is exactly what it means.

    But the real question is: How much can they really jack up their rates before you consider the ETF to be a worthwhile price to pay in order to escape? Sure, DirecTV can go up $500 a month; they’re a private business, so they can charge whatever they want. But if the ETF is $349, how many people would pay the lesser ETF to escape? Answer to theoretical question: all of them.

    As for Chris: dude, you’re stuck, but would it be worth paying the ETF to break the contract five months early? Suck it up for a while, then move on…

  20. Woodside Park Bob says:

    I can understand why increased programming costs might lead to programming packages, but that wouldn’t justify increasing the monthly cost for each leased receiver.

  21. Frogskins says:

    I didn’t know about the rate increase when I cancelled my DirecTV service on Jan 1st. I cancelled two months early in a 24 month contract and was charged a $40 ETF. They told me it is pro-rated to $20/mo for the remaining months.

  22. RogueWarrior65 says:

    AGAIN!?!?! They just raised the effing rates a couple of weeks ago! GAH!!!!!!

    • tsalaroth says:

      Read up a little ways, check your contract and your bill, then likely call DirecTV about a refund for the last “price hike”, as it might be the same one and you just got bit early by a billing bug.

  23. RogueWarrior65 says:

    Would someone mind posting (or creating) a brass-tacks comparison of the true cost of DirecTV versus cable? Never mind the b.s. three-month free crap. I’m talking two, three years down the line after they’ve jacked the rates up.

    • Mom says:

      It’s really hard to compare. My experience over the years has been that DirecTV is consistently about $15/mo cheaper for the packages that contained the channels I actually watch. That said, in absolute terms, the cable package contains more channels. When I dropped cable to go with Directv, the retention lady tried to tell me how I was going to miss all those extra channels. I didn’t.

      So, with that, I think you have to figure out what you really watch, get the lists from their websites, and do your own comparison.

    • KyBash says:

      It really is impossible to give concrete comparisons for a number of reasons:

      1) Cable rates vary widely from city to city, even when it’s the same company.

      2) Cable systems, DirecTV, and Dish TV don’t have the same channels in the same tiers/packages.

      Here, cable’s basic package is comparable to DirecTV’s basic package as far as cost, but I’d be missing almost half of what I watch.

      For the channels I want, I’d have to subscribe to the best (highest cost) non-premium package offered by cable. That would give me literally hundreds of channels I don’t want or need, but which I’d still have to pay for.

      The only thing you can do is make a list of what channels you want and go comparison shopping. I know some people who are quite happy with Dish TV’s cheapest package (they’re also weird in other ways, but that one sticks out.).

  24. dpeters11 says:

    I would recommend everyone who has HD service look into doing this: If you’re OK with Autopay, current customers can get HD free for two years. That drops your bill by $10 a month. You’ll still have the price increase, but your overall bill will still end up lower than it was before the increase (unless you have a lot of receivers). You’ll have to get transferred to someone that can do it, and you can’t of had any rebates in the last 12 months. Autopay is required, if by credit card they take it when the bill runs, debit card a few days before the due date. If your DirecTV charges are bundled onto a phone bill, that counts as autopay, even if you don’t autopay that bill.

  25. Jeremy says:

    So they are cancelling our channels and now raising our rates. I am going around hardcore with DTV right now about G4 no longer being in their line up and them not letting me cancel without paying through the nose for the rest of my contract. 8 year customer and the main reason I have kept them all this time is because of G4 (lets not start all the Techtv was better argument) I enjoyed attack of the show, xplay, and ninja warrior. This company has gone downhill and I cant wait to cancel them.

  26. BossManW 916 says:

    From the DTV contract…
    “If you notify us that you do not accept such terms and conditions, then we may cancel your Service as provided in Section 5, as we cannot offer Service to different customers on different terms, among other reasons.”

    Seems simple enough, Don’t accept the new terms… in writing of course!

  27. devilwearskevlar says:

    I do believe a raise in rates is a material change in a contract and if the material change in a contract benefits one side, the other side is usually given a benefit of some sort. Most of the time if there are changes in terms and conditions, it results in a temporary window in which the other party can terminate the contract without penalty. This usually happens with cell phone contracts, so I don’t see why this would not affect a contract with a satellite provider. So if they send out a document changing terms you should read your Customer Agreements, or terms and conditions, for what it the material benefit that you might receive from the change.

  28. devilwearskevlar says:

    This is the wording from the current contract.

    4. CHANGES IN CONTRACT TERMS

    We reserve the right to change the terms and conditions on which we offer Service. If we make any such changes, we will send you a copy of your new Customer Agreement containing its effective date. You always have the right to cancel your Service, in whole or in part, at any time, and you may do so if you do not accept any such changed terms or conditions. See Sections 5(b), (d) and (e) below. If you elect not to cancel your Service after receiving a new Customer Agreement, your continued receipt of Service constitutes acceptance of the changed terms and conditions. If you notify us that you do not accept such terms and conditions, then we may cancel your Service as provided in Section 5, as we cannot offer Service to different customers on different terms, among other reasons.

  29. billf says:

    I just spoke with David (ID: 100116257) to cancel my account. I was informed that they will still charge the early termination fee. That per the contract they can raise the rate at any time and I can either pay the new rate or pay the fee.
    $3 a month isn’t really much. However, when signing up for DirecTV, you should give serious consideration to the true cost of service. Beyond the promotional period you receive, they are able to charge any amount after that. I personally preferred cable, which would allow me to cancel if they could no longer remain competitive.
    If this is allowed, I think it sets a very bad precedent.

  30. Emily says:

    In October 2010 I received a promo from DirecTV. When I called I was quoted a monthly rate of $48.99. I gave them a credit card for auto pay. In checking my credit card statement after the holidays i found i was being charged in excess of $85 a month and had gone up to $93 a month. I immediately stopped and blocked the credit card abuse and forced them to bill me so I could keep closer watch on the charges. I was told I had to file for a rebate to get the 48.99 fee but only had 90 days to file for it. It had been 93 days so I had no recourse. I told them to cancel the service and they said there would be a fee of over $300 to cancel and some other expenses. This company is a total rip off. It cannot be legal to misrepresent a service this badly. If it is we need to change some laws.

  31. Bobby D. says:

    “Please note: Our price adjustments affect only our regular, non-promotional rates. If you’re currently paying a promotional price for your DIRECTV base package, you will continue to pay this price for the remainder of your promotional period.”

    Source: http://support.directv.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2613/~/new-rates-for-directv-service

    Everyone please calm down and use Google.