Friday, December 31, 2010

DirecTV Enters into Multi-State Consent Decree
-agrees to pay almost $14 million for deceptive practices

For all you consumer lawyers out there, raise your hand if you've had a DirecTV complaint. Okay, you can put your hands down, you're generating too much of a breeze. For the life of me, I've never understood how a company that treats its customers the way DirecTV does stays in business.

In the settlement with 49 out of 50 (or all 50 depending on the source) of the attorneys general plus the District of Columbia, DirecTV has agreed to pay $13.5 million in fines and restitution, plus it has agreed to cease and desist a number of deceptive practices. Apparently there is or will be a procedure for getting complaints addressed and/or restitution through the attorneys general.

My biggest beef with DirecTV isn't addressed by the settlement, and that is is that they lock you into a multiyear contract, but it is not a written, signed agreement where the customer receives a copy. In fact, rarely is there ever a written contract. I have alleged repeatedly that failure to have a written contract that lasts more than one year is a violation of the statute of frauds (at least in Indiana). The $29.95 (or whatever) package is rarely available. Local channels are hit and miss. Usually the service works fine in the rain, but for some reason, some customers never get their dish to work in the rain, and it's tough luck for them. When you change your service, they often sign you up for an extended contract, sometimes without disclosing that to the customer. When you turn in the equipment, they must have a special department dedicated to losing the equipment; and the people in this department are far better at their jobs than the three people that staff the customer service department. (I estimated the number of customer service employees based upon the quality of the customer service. I could be off by one or two.)

Now it's time for my marginally relevant video of the day. It's more than marginally relevant today, however. It's dead on. I don't know this guy from Adam, but his story is typical of the complaints that I field against DirecTV, often several times a month.

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