Brooks is a DirecTV customer, and he wrote in to warn other DirecTV customers to watch out for a shady “Protection Plan” the company signed him up for against his permission:
- I was not told anything about a “standard policy” to sign me up for the protection plan upon having warranty work done.
- I specifically declined to sign up when pitched on the idea.
- I was signed up anyways.
- I received the letter stating that there would be no charge.
- They attempted to charge a cancellation fee for canceling a plan I never agreed to.
- I had to waste time and energy to haggle to get the charges off, when it really should have been a simple fix.
Read Brooks’ full DirecTV encounter after the jump.
I am writing to let you know about some shady behaviors by DirecTV concerning their “protection plan” in the hopes that you might be able to warn other DirecTV subscribers of their practices and save them the cost of charges that should not be assessed to their account.
I recently signed up for DirecTV service at the end of November 2007. Later in December my area suffered from a severe storm, which blew my dish out of alignment. I called DirecTV about having this fixed. At that time, I was told that they warranty dish alignment for the first 3 months (90 days) of use, which my dish fell under. I was pleased, but out of curiousity asked what would it would cost if this happened again outside of my warranty period. I was told the charge would be ~$75, but if I were willing to sign up for the “Protection Plan” at $5.99/mo it would not cost me anything. I declined to sign up reasoning that it was unlikely my dish would be affected more than once a year, so signing up would provide me no cost savings. In about a week, a service person came out, realigned my dish, all was well.
About a week later, I received what looked like some junk mail from DirecTV. Nine times out of ten I would not have even opened it since it was not in an envelope, but by random chance I did. Inside was the letter thanking me for signing up for the DirecTV protection plan, which as noted I never agreed to sign up for. Upon further reading I noticed, as can be seen in the pictures, the plan purchase price was listed at $0.00/mo. At first I was annoyed and a bit angry at being signed up for this crap without my consent, but if they weren’t going to charge me (as evidenced by the letter) then whatever. However, I was now on notice to check out my bill to make sure no charges were appearing.
Upon examining my bill, I was charged for a prorated portion for one month, and a full amount for the next month. ($.60 and $5.99). Of course, I called DirecTV to get this charge removed from my bill, which took a frustratingly long time. The customer service representative told me that it was DirecTV’s standard policy to sign up any subscriber to the protection plan at the time they have warranty work done, which of course was not relayed to me when I ordered the warranty work. After haggling with the CSR for a bit, he finally agreed that I should have the cost credited back onto my bill. However, I was then informed that there was a $10 cancellation of the protection plan fee that would be assessed on this plan that I never signed up for in the first place. More haggling ensued, at which point, the CSR offered me a $5 credit for 3 months (totalling $15) to make up for the mistake, actually making me come out a little “ahead.”
Really, that was not the point though. First, I was not told anything about a “standard policy” to sign me up for the protection plan upon having warranty work done. Second, I specifically declined to sign up when pitched on the idea. Third, I was signed up anyways. Fourth, I received the letter stating that there would be no charge. Fifth, they attempted to charge a cancellation fee for canceling a plan I never agreed to. Sixth, I had to waste time and energy to haggle to get the charges off, when it really should have been a simple fix.
Many consumers may have never opened the sign up letter in the first place given that it looks like junk mail, and therefore would never be tipped off to the fact that these charges would appear on the bill. They might also be lulled to sleep by the fact that their letter says the plan will come at no charge. I imagine DirecTV is charging a lot of people for these plans without their knowledge, and many of these people will never take advantage of the protection. $5.99 might not be that much per month, but if you charge enough people this amount every month it adds up. Also, if someone attempts to cancel farther down the road, they might not be willing to raise a stink about the $10 cancellation fee so long as they are getting most of their money back. This also lines DirecTV’s pockets with money they should not be getting.