Misleading Mailer Shows Why DISH Needs To Rein In Third-Party Sales Agents

DISH Network is already in hot water with regulators because it and the third-party businesses that sell the satellite TV service allegedly ignore the Do Not Call list. But DISH’s authorized agents aren’t just bad at telemarketing; some also appear intent on filling customers’ mailboxes with misleading mailers that only serve to annoy potential customers.

Consumerist reader Michael was confused when he recently received the above mailer from “DISH,” with the words “INSTALLATION NOTICE,” along with a specific “Appointment No.” listed on the front.

Even on the back, the message “Welcome to the DISH family,” would seem to imply that someone had mistakenly set up an installation appointment for Michael’s address.

But when he opened it up so he could gather the information needed to cancel any such appointment, the mailer was revealed to be nothing but an ad for DISH service.

This is the kind of marketing tactic you’d expect from a bottom-scraping business; not from the country’s second-largest satellite provider.

But a closer inspection of the mailer shows that, in spite of the mailer only saying “DISH” under the company’s logo, it is actually an advertisement for a company called GoDish.

A rep for GoDish released the following statement to Consumerist:

We are one of many authorized retailers for DISH and are authorized to market independently of DISH. The ad you are in receipt of is one of many versions of a direct mail program we are running. While we operate with autonomy, we are asked to identify ourselves as a retailer for DISH on our advertising. That requirement has been in place for years is part of DISH’s response to retailers violations of DNC policy as you wrote about recently in a column. Clearly that identification did not happen on the version you were forwarded…

It is not, nor has it been our intention to violate that requirement that DISH has established for us. I have notified DISH that we had an error on a small portion of our direct mail campaign and will address the issue on future printings. Our graphics and marketing people are currently reviewing all of the literally hundreds of version of art we have to ensure this issue is isolated, and if not corrected.

He also provided the original artwork for the mailer that shows the words “Authorized Dealer” under the DISH logo. How these words disappeared is apparently a mystery.

When we pointed out that his comment did not answer our question of whether or not it is acceptable to send out a mailer that implies an installation appointment has been made when no such appointment exists, the rep responded:

On that campaign we target specific households in areas that meet demographic, psychographic and expected propensity to respond. Our message is clearly an advertisement for installation of DISH services with a core message of savings and discounted offers to entice consumers to inquire about our services. The installation invitation is part of the overall message. I appreciate the comments about the Appointment Number area. As there is none, I don’t think we need that in this message.

We have sent several e-mails to DISH, along with copies of the mailer and the statement from GoDish, but have yet to receive a reply, other than to say the company is looking into it.

If you believe you’ve received a deceptive or misleading mailer — or if a company is ignoring your Do Not Call request — you can file a complaint online via the FTC’s Complaint Assistant or by calling the FTC at 877-382-4257.

Comments

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  1. TheMansfieldMauler says:

    But when he opened it up so he could gather the information needed to cancel any such appointment…

    Really? Really? Has this guy never seen a piece of junk mail before?

    Here’s a hint, dude. If it has a printed-on-the-paper presort postmark, it’s junk no matter what the rest of the envelope says.

    • Audiyoda28 says:

      WOOT!

      Way to troll on the OP. You go troll, you go.

    • dolemite says:

      The technical term for that is “Indicia”. It sort of depends on what you consider “junk mail”. Many companies use indicias on mailings, even ones for organizations you are a member of, or have sent money to in the past. It’s not just unsolicited mail (although in general it tends to be).

    • castlecraver says:

      Here’s a hint: if you’re even slightly concerned about the possible contents of a mailpiece, it’s probably best to spend the 30 seconds opening and examining it rather than summarily tossing it. You know, err on the side of caution?

      Of course, you’d probably be the first to jump down the OPs throat for hastily throwing away a piece of apparent junk mail that actually had some change in contract terms notification deftly hidden within. If you’ve read the Consumerist for half as long as I have, you’ll know that has been known to happen occasionally.

      • benminer says:

        Nope. I have little free time as-is. If it looks like junk mail, and it’s not from a company i do business with, it goes in the trash unopened.

      • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

        Absolutely correct. A few times I’ve opened what looked like a piece of junk mail to discover it contained a rebate check I’d been waiting for.

        • SilentAgenger says:

          +1. I had a near miss recently with concert tickets. MusicToday sends their tickets in a plain white envelope with zero identifying marks (except for a generic PO box return address in the corner). It looks exactly like a piece junk mail. Fortunately, I was aware to scan my mail (thanks to a heads-up email they sent me a few days prior to delivery), but otherwise this envelope likely would have been tossed in the shred pile.

  2. bitslammer says:

    Don’t have Dish and never will. If this is how poorly they behave with prospective customers I can only imagine how they would treat you once under contract and they have no incentive to behave.

    • trswyo says:

      As a Dish customer, nothing but fantastic! The cable provider where I live, currently Comcast, has such bad compression on their video signals it looks like I am watching lego TV. I paid a lot of money for my TVs to watch lego TV. Both DirecTV and Dish offer great picture quality… only IPTV can beat, but will never come to where I live.

      As far as sleezy authorized dealers for Direc and Dish, I get their ads all the time.. In a more country/rural setting, that is half of my junk mail and just about all of them don’t say in “readable” text they are an Authorized dealer.

    • IGetsAnOpinion says:

      This was a contractor for Dish, not Dish themselves. I luckily don’t get anything from Dish (or their contractors), but I’ve been a happy customer of theirs since 1999. Instead, I get Comcast junk mail 3-4x a month, and even had a sales person from Comcast stop by. I’d rather get junk mail!

  3. Pre-Existing Condition says:

    It seems like a general rule of thumb is that the more “formal” the outside of an envelope looks, the more likely it’s either junk mail or a scam.

  4. phira says:

    I have this problem with Comcast, although I had the problem while I was a subscriber. I had paperless turned on and clicked everything I could to make them stop sending me junk mail. And yet every month or two, I’d get a letter, and the envelope would insist that it contained time sensitive material and important information about my account.

    I’m on no-junk-mail list, which stopped a LOT of junk mail from arriving in my mailbox, so this is really irritating.

  5. Remmy75 says:

    “On that campaign we target specific households in areas that meet demographic, psychographic and expected propensity to respond.”

    Who talks like that or writes like that? I do believe the “rep” for these people might be the HAL9000.

    Did he start the email with Good Morning Dave?

    • scoosdad says:

      Maybe it was ‘Big Mike’ McCaffery (see the signature line of the image above).

      Who signs important business mail with ‘Big Mike’?

  6. cyberpenguin says:

    I was looking to drop Comcast and switch to either Dish or DirecTV.

    Now, I’m looking to drop Comcast and switch to DirecTV.

    Thanks to Dish the choice is made easier.

    • trswyo says:

      Pay attention to after promotion pricing… you will find one is costlier than the other for months 13-24 in your contact.

    • Joedragon says:

      I can use a directv referral

    • IGetsAnOpinion says:

      Beware, once you drop Comcast you will get their junk mail 3x a month, and if you are lucky like me, a sales person will come to your door to try to sell you their services.

  7. Rockfish says:

    This mailer is deceptive, misleading and bordering on fraud.

  8. Bladerunner says:

    This is similar to the “fake-invoice-for-services-not-rendered” scam.

    http://www.popehat.com/2011/09/25/anatomy-of-a-scam-chapter-index/

  9. balderdashed says:

    Not to take Dish off the hook, but sadly, this mailer is no more misleading or deceptive than a lot of what I get in my mailbox every week. Almost every offer from a lender seeking to refinance my home attempts to looks like official government correspondence, with some crazy language like “Official Rate Reduction Notification.” Then there are the offers for extended car warranties, which also masquerade as something more official — a “Factory Warranty Expiration Notice,” etc. Most insurance offers similarly try to pretend to be something other than pure sales pitches. Even the mailings I get from AAA and the AARP, two organizations I consider generally reputable, are also on the deceptive side. Most of this stuff never makes it past the garbage can in my garage, to my front door.

  10. Sarek says:

    For the first 2 or 3 years after I had my furnace installed, I used to get mailings from the HVAC company that were invoices for annual checkups. When the first one arrived, I called them to bitch. They said, oh, that’s just the format we use for our reminders. (yeah right, you crooks) I grumbled a bit, but then tossed them out when they arrived for the next few years.

  11. Kisses4Katie says:

    “country’s second largest satellite provider”? I thought there were only two???

  12. Proselytic says:

    When you order Dish through a 3rd party, Dish ignores the deal, tacks on fees and then changes the deal and THEN blames the 3rd party. Dish Network has been *quietly* replacing channels like AMC, Sundance, etc. with their own Blockbuster channels. Essentially picking up what Wal-mart does replacing brand names with their Generics. When I called about that, I got a “Sorry about that.” with no explanation whatsoever. Funny no – one has written about Dish replacing the channels, with their own and just how bad the Blockbuster channels are. Baaad company…

    • trswyo says:

      Lots of people have written about that. Many receiving $10 a month credits as well as a free Roku.

  13. Hagetaka says:

    This kind of misleading tactic is hardly confined to satellite TV- both the misleading ad and the “third-party marketer” scheme that drums up sales for a major company while limiting their liability (since Dish can shrug and say “It wasn’t us”). Anyone who’s gotten a VA mortgage and had their mailbox post groan under the weight of the sudden flood of misleading “refinance your mortgage” junk mail can attest to it.

  14. Orlando Woman says:

    I just got a dish mailer (SPAM) for Physicians offices wanting to sell to us for patient waiting rooms. HOWEVER they didn’t do their homework because we’re ICU Phyicians with no office practice and no TV’s in ICU. So because the mailer is prsrt std meaning presorted standard I can’t write return to sender with a note please remove us from your mailing list. So my next option is the call and ask to be removed from their mailing lists. The fella on the phone says we have to call the post office because it comes from them. I reply it’s YOUR company and we didn’t ask for this junk mail. He stuck to his guns so I hung up. If I had more time I should’ve asked for his boss. RIDICULOUS! More trees used to make this paper that we just throw away. Grrrr.