Misleading Mailer Shows Why DISH Needs To Rein In Third-Party Sales Agents

DISH Network is already in hot water with regulators because it and the third-party businesses that sell the satellite TV service allegedly ignore the Do Not Call list. But DISH’s authorized agents aren’t just bad at telemarketing; some also appear intent on filling customers’ mailboxes with misleading mailers that only serve to annoy potential customers.

Consumerist reader Michael was confused when he recently received the above mailer from “DISH,” with the words “INSTALLATION NOTICE,” along with a specific “Appointment No.” listed on the front.

Even on the back, the message “Welcome to the DISH family,” would seem to imply that someone had mistakenly set up an installation appointment for Michael’s address.

But when he opened it up so he could gather the information needed to cancel any such appointment, the mailer was revealed to be nothing but an ad for DISH service.

This is the kind of marketing tactic you’d expect from a bottom-scraping business; not from the country’s second-largest satellite provider.

But a closer inspection of the mailer shows that, in spite of the mailer only saying “DISH” under the company’s logo, it is actually an advertisement for a company called GoDish.

A rep for GoDish released the following statement to Consumerist:

We are one of many authorized retailers for DISH and are authorized to market independently of DISH. The ad you are in receipt of is one of many versions of a direct mail program we are running. While we operate with autonomy, we are asked to identify ourselves as a retailer for DISH on our advertising. That requirement has been in place for years is part of DISH’s response to retailers violations of DNC policy as you wrote about recently in a column. Clearly that identification did not happen on the version you were forwarded…

It is not, nor has it been our intention to violate that requirement that DISH has established for us. I have notified DISH that we had an error on a small portion of our direct mail campaign and will address the issue on future printings. Our graphics and marketing people are currently reviewing all of the literally hundreds of version of art we have to ensure this issue is isolated, and if not corrected.

He also provided the original artwork for the mailer that shows the words “Authorized Dealer” under the DISH logo. How these words disappeared is apparently a mystery.

When we pointed out that his comment did not answer our question of whether or not it is acceptable to send out a mailer that implies an installation appointment has been made when no such appointment exists, the rep responded:

On that campaign we target specific households in areas that meet demographic, psychographic and expected propensity to respond. Our message is clearly an advertisement for installation of DISH services with a core message of savings and discounted offers to entice consumers to inquire about our services. The installation invitation is part of the overall message. I appreciate the comments about the Appointment Number area. As there is none, I don’t think we need that in this message.

We have sent several e-mails to DISH, along with copies of the mailer and the statement from GoDish, but have yet to receive a reply, other than to say the company is looking into it.

If you believe you’ve received a deceptive or misleading mailer — or if a company is ignoring your Do Not Call request — you can file a complaint online via the FTC’s Complaint Assistant or by calling the FTC at 877-382-4257.