DirecTV Bills Elderly Couple $198 For Porn They Didn’t Rent 5 Years Ago

porndirectvCable customers frequently complain that they are being charged for porn they didn’t order — and cable companies often shrug and insist that someone must have ordered the erotic flicks. But a couple of married septuagenarians in California say DirecTV recently tried to charge them for 18 porn titles rented in a single day — in 2008.

For more than five years, the porn was never billed to the couple. That is, until they ended their 19-year relationship with DirecTV earlier this year and turned in their leased equipment.

That’s when someone at DirecTV checked out their access card and determined that the former subscribers had enjoyed a massive one-day porn-fest, renting 18 movies in a single day in January 2008.

The couple tells CBS Sacramento’s Kurtis Ming that the do remember upgrading their receivers that year and that they successfully challenged two bogus porn charges back then, but nothing since. As for the 18-film pornstravaganza, the couple say they were watching a Giants-Packers NFL playoff game that day, so X-rated titillation was not in the cards.

Ming’s investigation turned up several online complaints from other customers with similar claims of being charged for porn that had been ordered at some mysterious point in the past.

I spoke with Consumerist reader David, who tried to challenge erroneous porn charges only to have DirecTV tell him that someone must have been staying at his house and ordered the films while he was away. David confirms that the porn only showed up on his bill after he was given a new receiver with a new access card.

Looking at the complaints and the anecdotal data, these access cards seem to be the most likely culprit. DirecTV claims that while it does reuse cards, it also wipes them clean between customers. Sure, just like every other piece of refurbished electronics that is supposedly clean but comes loaded with X-rated content.

And of course, like every other cable company, DirecTV often refuses to believe customers who dispute porn charges, even when the amount of porn being watched is outrageous and done in such a short period of time as to indicate malfeasance. The companies’ stance is always that the customer is now ashamed of their purchase (or that a parent or spouse discovered the purchase) and is now trying to talk their way out of it.

“They’re basically being called liars, frauds and cheats,” one lawyer tells Ming about DirecTV’s stance on these bogus charges.

After Ming contacted DirecTV, the company changed its tune, saying the charges were the result of “an extremely rare technical glitch that caused this anomaly and we apologize for the inconvenience this has caused them.”

And so the couple were no longer on the hook for $198 in porn they never even got the chance to watch.