DISH Network Will Pay $5.9 Million Back To Customers

In 2006, five states launched an investigation into DISH Network‘s crummy sales practices after hundreds of complaints from consumers. Now the company has agreed to pay $5.9 million to 46 states in a settlement announced today—and at least some of that money is earmarked for DISH customers.

According to the press release from the Iowa Office of the Attorney General, customers have had a whole bunch of problems with the behavior of DISH Network over the years:

The states alleged that DISH Network: Refused to accept responsibility for misconduct by its third-party retailers and installers; violated do-not-call rules; failed to disclose all key terms and conditions of their customer agreements; did not disclose that purchased or leased equipment was previously used and/or refurbished; charged customer credit cards and debited bank accounts without providing adequate notice and obtaining appropriate authorization; and committed other violations. The company denied any wrongdoing.

If you filed a complaint with DISH Network since January 1st, 2004 that is still at least partially unresolved, or if you file a new complaint over the next 150 days “concerning conduct by DISH over the last two years,” then you can participate in the payout. The complaint must be in written form, and sent directly to DISH Network or “through a third party such as an Attorney General’s Office, any state Consumer complaint-handling agency or Better Business Bureau.”

They’ll mail you a letter with an offer, as well as a claim form that you must fill out if you reject the offer. You can then either accept DISH’s offer of restitution or other relief, or reject it, at which point DISH must send your complaint to an independent third party Claims Administrator who has to be approved by the state Attorneys General.

You can get all the details of the restitution part of the agreement by downloading it (pdf) and jumping to page 25.

The agreement is called an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance” and it explicitly spells out what DISH will and will not do moving forward, including how it will handle disclosures of programming limitations, electronic fund transactions, third-party installers, and so on. If you’re a DISH customer or plan to be one, you might want to save a copy (pdf) for reference—it’s like your own fine print agreement for how the company must behave in any dealings with you. (In fact, it even says that DISH can’t use fine print or “an inaudible broadcast” to hide important details of any agreement with you.)

Sadly, the settlement includes customers in all states except for the following:

    Not included in settlement

  • California
  • North Carolina
  • Illinois
  • Ohio
  •     and also the

  • District of Columbia

“DISH Network Agrees to Resolve Consumer Complaints and Avoid Unfair Practices” [Iowa Office of the Attorney General]
(Photo: cote)