Dish Network Sends Prepaid Return Boxes To Wrong Address Three Times, Bills For Unreturned Equipment

Reader Ryan called the Dish Network three weeks before moving to disconnect his service. Dish graciously offered to send prepaid return boxes for his equipment, but instead of sending them to Ryan’s new address, Dish sent them to his old address. Three times. Oddly, Dish managed to properly address a bill to Ryan’s new address. Ryan writes:

My wife and I signed up for Dish Network service last summer ’06 and were fairly happy with it. Come this August we moved into a new house where another service was available and decided to switch. I called and canceled our service approximately 2-3 weeks before we were set to move (paying a prorated disconnect fee in the process), scheduling the last day of service to be the last day of the month. I was told by the Customer Service rep that I would receive pre-paid ‘courtesy’ UPS boxes to return the equipment. We expected the boxes to arrive before we moved, considering we’d given ample notice.

However, come moving day, no boxes had arrived. “No problem” we thought. After all, we had a forwarding address set up and if junk mail can find its way from the old address to the new, surely something as large as this will too.

Come next month I happen to look at my bank account and there’s a $300 charge to Dish Network. I received no bill, no phone call, my bank account is simply $300 poorer. I immediately called them back and requested an explanation. It seems that the boxes were sent to our old address and not forwarded. They’ll resend the boxes which should arrive in 3-5 business daysand as soon as we have a UPS tracking number, the money will be refunded. Case closed. Or so I thought.

Fast forward two weeks and the boxes haven’t arrived. I called customer service again. Guess what? They sent the boxes to our old apartment address… again. I asked if there was a location near where I lived so that I could drop the equipment off myself and get my money back. I’m given a number to a local distributer. I’m told to leave a message and they’ll get back to me. While waiting to hear back from the distributer I received a bill for $24.75 from none other than Dish Network. But I canceled the service! Ah, but I owe $25 in sales tax for the $300 worth of equipment I don’t want. And here’s the kicker: it’s addressed correctly at our new house.

I, for a fourth time, call up customer service on Monday Nov 5th. In a rather irritated tone I skip the niceties and ask for the boxes to be sent to the address that I now know is quite firmly in their computer system. I’m assured that they’ll be resent and that I’d have them by Friday. That was yesterday. Calling again this morning I’m told that the boxes have been mailed to my old apartment complex for a THIRD TIME. Supposedly they’ve sent a fourth set to my house this time, (which apparently will take 7-10 business days to arrive, contrary to the 3-5 it’s always taken before) and I can finally get my money back.

I’m hoping that the inept CS reps can connect the addresses long enough to get these mailed correctly, but I expect in about 2 weeks I’ll call back and yet again be told that they were sent swiftly to my old address along with a $24.75 charge going to collections (assuming it isn’t withdrawn from my account without my permission again). Any advice (and publicity) is appreciated.

If Dish still isn’t able to figure out where you live, kick the problem from the call center to the corporate office. Send an email to EchoStar’s CEO, Charles Ergen, at

(Photo: diaper)


Edit Your Comment

  1. iEddie says:

    You should call your bank and see if there’s a way you can dispute those charges. You stated that it was charged to your bank account which will make it harder to do, but they should still be able to do it.

  2. XTC46 says:

    You say it was charged without permission, are you sure in your dish contract it didn’t have a clause about taking payment from your credit card/bank card if equipment wasn’t returned with X days of cancellation?

    I worked for a company who rented stuff, and this clause was in every contract, and is very typical.

  3. Cowboys_fan says:

    I hate renting equipment for this among other reasons. When I was a csr, I would get 1-2 calls/day with someone charged for not returning a phone and in a good 25% of those cases, UPS or another warehouse search shows the phone was in fact returned. These systems for returns are not reliable and the customer pays in the end. There’s alot of people who don’t look at thier bills too so it makes me wonder how many people pay large sums of money in cases like this and never know they got screwed.

  4. dirtymoney says:

    When I had directv…. I bought the reciever myself. The dishes they installed they could care less about (they didnt want the two they had installed at my former home).

  5. MumblesFumbles says:

    That’s pretty much the same customer service I got (for different problem) when I had Dish Network. That’s why I don’t subscribe anymore.

  6. StWaldo says:

    Same thing happened to me when I moved from Arizona to Georgia. I eventually called them and had the charge dropped off my card and a replacement box (3rd one again) sent. Funnily enough, after I had sent the box back in I received another bill: It was for the $18 in tax on the $300 charge for not returning the box I had returned. Never going back to satellite if I can help it.

  7. ChicagoSteve says:


    I cannot begin to describe my experience with this company. I too have been a victim in this so called lost equiptment scam. I actually did recieve the boxes and shipped them out. After about 3 months of phone calls to multiple depts. I finally threatened them with a small claims suit since they were charging me for $179 Termination and $300 for equiptment charges. Heres the tip for getting this resolved. 1. Contact customer service and make them produce a signed contract. (They never can) 2. Ask them to locate the tracking number…unforutantly they do not keep a record of these. and 3. Tell them your going to file a suit on them and ask for the customer service managers name. He should give you is first name location and id number. Then tell him you will name him as a witness to how terrible their service is. If this doesnt work contact the attorney general and file a complaint. This always works because customers are constantly getting screwed by these guys.

  8. Bay State Darren says:

    Uninformed suggestion: Maybe you could ask them for the address that would be on the return box and use it to send the dish back in a store-bought box [insuring and tracking the package all the way.] The postage may come out of your pocket, but think of the money you’ll save on asprin for this ongoing headache!

  9. saltmine says:

    Doesn’t this guy know that mail forwarding works for USPS only? (And apparently only for junk mail?) How the hell was UPS supposed to know? If he had gotten a tracking number from Dish he could have had them re-route.

    But other than that, Dish was clearly in the wrong, and apparently in reading the other comments, he’s not alone. Dish sent my boxes to the right address, but they sent the wrong size packaging for my receiver. Twice. Finally I called and they had me cut the protective foam, resulting in the thing clunking around in the box. Oh well, not my problem.

  10. ATTSlave says:

    Call them back and ask to be transfered to ERT (Executive Relations Team) They will be pissed because they are graded on how many calls they kick up there however they have to do it. ERT has the power to just refund your money and no have to return the equipment.

  11. FF_Mac says:

    After 7 years with Dish Network, they pushed out a software “upgrade” that effectively killed our 501 and 510 model DVR receivers. After 5 months of waiting for a fix and being told they’re working on it, I told them to send me a new receiver, a different receiver. They refused. FOUR TIMES.

    I switched to DirecTV, have a better package, better equipment, pay less, have Hi Def…oh and to top it all off…when I called Dish to cancel, and told them why, they offered to give me new receivers to stay.

    Why didn’t they do that in the first place?

    Do yourself a favor, go to DirecTV.

  12. stevemis says:

    Try your state utilities commission. Some states don’t have them, and some states don’t regulate satellite TV. It’s worth a try.

  13. weave says:

    Woo hoo! Another one of my pics makes the Consumerist site.

    This one was really weird. Apartments to the right that were on the “wrong” side of the building just ran coax out to the trees alone the railroad tracks (to the left) and mounted their Dish dish. There were quite a few like this.

  14. Cary says:

    I have Dish and they’re a miserable company to deal with… almost as bad as Time Warner or Direct.

    When my roof was replaced last year (due, in part, to Dish’s poor mounting job) they wouldn’t come out for close to a week to remount it (I was paying for the call) i called Direct, was quoted a price, and told they would be out in 1 to 2 days to do this install. I gave them my credit card # and placed the order.

    Once the charge was approved, the price of the receiver had gone up, the monthly rate had gone up substantially, and they wouldn’t be out for 5 days to install. I told her to cancel the order – nope, wrong department.

    I called back to the number she gave me and was informed there would be a substantial charge for cancelling the contract. I got them to waive everything. After 2 months the $400 charge for the receiver was still on my credit card. I disputed the charge with Mastercard (who requested proof of delivery from Direct) and issued a chargeback to Direct (Direct NEVER issued credit)

    Dish is bad. Direct is off the table. I’m in the computer busines and hear customer horror stories about Time Warner every day.

    I’ll settle for bad.

  15. Yoni K says:

    @Bay State Darren:
    I had almost the exact same problem with DiSH 1 year ago, except I tried disputing the charge through my credit card and was denied.
    Anyway, be careful before shipping the equipment back on your own… The boxes from DiSH come with instructions requiring you to take apart the satellite dishes and ship back part of it (not the saucer piece, but the protruding arm). This was a pleasant surprise for a just-recently-graduated-college-student who 1) already moved 3 months earlier, 2) doesn’t own a ladder and 3) doesn’t own a car big enough to safely carry a ladder (cramming a 25 foot ladder into an old SAAB was… interesting)

    anyway, things eventually worked out, and they (finally) shipped the boxes to the right address and then eventually refunded my credit card, but it took about 3 months from my original move date.

  16. Robert Isbell says:

    the wonderful world of not owning your equipment, of course nowadays, even owning your equiment does not preclude the company form trying to get it or making you pay for equipment they supposedly rented you. I’m having to deal with Bresnan Communications and the fact the corporate office has refused to respond to letters or phone calls, and the local office con artists are giving city and state officials the run around.

  17. ATTSlave says:

    While I don’t agree with the practice it does clearly state they will charge they will charge the card you used to setup the account if you don’t return the equipment within two weeks. Why do you think they charge that 49.99 activation fee and then refund it on your first bill.

  18. HOP says:

    i’m still trying to return a directv unit….they said they wanted it back a year ago, but i haven’t heard from them since…..

  19. backbroken says:

    Dish Network: The only company capable of making me utter the phrase, “I can’t believe we got rid of Comcast.”

  20. Buran says:

    @FF_Mac: When I changed car insurers a few years ago all of a sudden they could lower my rate.

    I told them it was too late and that I already had a better deal and that they should have done that BEFORE I found that someone else would charge me less.


  21. Buran says:

    @weave: That is really weird. And the tracks, the ground they are on, and the property up to around 10ft or so on either side of the tracks is railroad property. How exactly are the cables staying there and not being removed by track workers?

  22. gacompguy says:

    I haven’t been a customer of Dish Network for over six months now, and they are kind enough to continue to send me my e-bill reminder (showing a balance of $0.00 of course). After speaking to customer service, executive customer service, and some Vice President (of who knows what), they still seem unable to do something as simple as not send me (a former customer) a reminder to pay a bill for zero dollars.

    If I lived in the middle of nowhere, there was no cable service, and DirecTV would not provide service, I would do without television before doing business with Dish again.

  23. Jennifer423 says:

    I just had an almost identical experience. I’ve moved across country, and when i left, I called dishmover, who told me, take my receivers but leave the dish. I pack everything up, but the movers are two weeks late with everything, including my computer. In the meantime, comcast offered us a better rate, and we took it.

    We called dish and asked for a final bill and return boxes. They sent the boxes to the old address, and presumably this is also where the bill went as well. They disabled our online account.

    So after a week with no boxes, we get a threat letter, explaining we will be charged 700.00 for the equipment if it’s not returned by the 23rd of December. (This of course was sent to the correct address) I called to complain, and was reassured they would send boxes to the correct address, and that there would be plenty of time. I got the boxes a few days later, and shipped them off with twelve days remaining (except for a piece of the dish they demanded after telling me to leave it behind)

    I figured everything’s fine now, but today I get an automated call telling me I haven’t returned the equipment and will be charged. After finding a CSR who actually understand what I’m complaining about, they have the nerve to tell me it doesn’t matter what their letter states, my contract says they can charge me whenever they like. This is in direct contradiction to everything I’ve been told up to now.

    Worse, I can’t pay my outstanding balance because now it includes the 700.00 for the equipment I’ve sent back. When i called to complain about the situation, they had the nerve to tell me there was nothing they could do because I was “past due.”

    Dish network got 8500.00 from my business over the last five years. Apparently this is chump change to them and they are not interested in having me as a customer in the future.