I Lost My Job, Then My DirecTV, Then $680

Mary says DirecTV stuck it to her after she missed a payment. Not only did it cancel her service, but she says it charged $680 to her checking account for unreturned equipment — never mind the fact that she still had time left in her seven-day period to return the stuff.

She writes:

I’ve had DirecTV for over 5 years but have been underemployed since April with bill money just trickling in. I’ve worked with all my utilities to keep service and keep making regular payments that are satisfactory to everyone involved. DirecTV has been the only company unresponsive to my requests and soon after I missed my payment date, my service was disconnected which is unfortunate but understandable. I figured I’d pay off the late bill and eventually reinstate service when my situation improved. I received an email from DirecTV saying that they will be sending me an empty box for returning my DVR’s and that returning them within 7 days would avoid any fees and that they will send me a final bill.

On Friday I received the “DirecYV Equipment Recovery” box with an enclosed letter again stating that I will avoid any equipment fees by sending in my DVR’s within 7 days. I called Directv to make sure I knew exactly what they expected in the box and was again told my account had a past due balance but would not incur any additional charges if I returned the equipment and reinstated service within 9 months. At this point I was content with my contact with DirecTV. I packed the box and it was on my “to-do” list to drop off today (first business day after receiving the box). But before I left my house this morning I found an unathorized $680 charge to my bank account from Directv. After calling customer service, using the DirecTV twitter account, and sending out EECB’s, I was contacted by “David” from corporate (he would not give his last name) who I thought would explain the charges and reverse them since I still had 5 days to return the equipment. Instead he just repeated over and over, “How do I know I’ll get my equipment back?.”

I explained to him over and over again that the box was packed and going out today and they had no right to withdrawal hundreds of dollars without my notice but he refused to budge. At best he says he will return a portion of the charge when the equipment is returned and processed (minimum 6 day window.) I now have a giant financial mess on my hands because of my overdrawn account and my bank is investigating the charge.

I cannot believe it is legal for DirecTV to send me an email, a letter, and to verbally agree that I will not incur charges and then charge me 2 days later. I am not disputing whether I owe them for the past due balance, I am disputing their right to withdraw it from my card on file with no notice (since I am not on Auto-pay), I am disputing the equipment charges when I clearly have more time to return it, and I am disputing their idea that because they sense a risk of equipment loss (despite my constant contact with them), that they have the right to charge me before I have ample time to return their equipment.

I have tried everything to be the best, although temporarily unemployed, consumer possible but I really just want to know what recourse I have at this point.

Surely some of you have dealt with DirecTV’s creepy underbelly before and have some words of advice for Mary. No fair to say “make your payments on time,” because that’s not the issue here.

(Photo: Maulleigh)