(Phoenix, Ariz - Dec. 28, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard, along with the attorneys general of 48 other states and the District of Columbia, has settled an investigation involving DIRECTV that will pay refunds to consumers who have unresolved complaints. The states alleged that the satellite TV provider engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices. DIRECTV agreed to alter its business practices in the future.
The settlement also calls for DIRECTV to pay $185,000 into Arizona’s consumer fraud resolving fund, which supports consumer education, fraud investigations and litigation. Other participating states will receive similar payments.
DIRECTV customers who have unresolved complaints sent to DIRECTV or the Attorney General that involve conduct addressed in the settlement and which occurred after Jan.1, 2007, are eligible for refunds. Customers can file a complaint with DIRECTV or the Attorney General by May 31, 2011 to be considered for the refund program as long as the complaint is about activity that occurred after Jan.1, 2007. DIRECTV will attempt to resolve the complaints with consumers. If the complaint cannot be resolved, DIRECTV shall inform the consumer that the complaint can be resolved by a claims administrator and mail a claim form to the consumer. The Claims Administrator will then resolve the dispute between the consumer and DIRECTV.
Consumers can contact the Attorney General’s Office to file a complaint or re-open an unresolved complaint, if it involves an issue covered by the settlement. To contact the Attorney General's Office in Phoenix call 602.542.5763; in Tucson at 520.628.6504; or outside the Phoenix and Tucson metro areas at 1.800.352.8431. To file a complaint in person, the Attorney General’s Office has satellite offices throughout the state with volunteers available to help. Locations and hours of operation are posted on the Attorney General’s Web site,www.azag.gov
Arizona received complaints that DIRECTV:
- Did not clearly disclose to consumers the price the consumer would be charged and the commitment term the consumer would be required to keep DIRECTV services.
- Did not clearly disclose to consumers limitations on getting a certain price for DIRECTV.
- Enrolled consumers in additional contracts or contract terms without clearly disclosing the terms to the consumer.
- Enrolled consumers in additional contracts when replacing defective equipment.
- Did not clearly disclose to consumers that they would automatically renew a seasonal sports package.
- Offered cash back to consumers when the consumer would actually receive bill credits.
The settlement requires DIRECTV to:
- Clearly disclose all material terms to consumers.
- Replace leased equipment that is defective at no cost except shipping costs.
- Not require the consumer to enter into an additional contract when simply replacing defective equipment.
- Clearly disclose when a consumer is entering into a contract.
- Clearly notify consumers before a consumer is obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package.
- Clearly disclose all limitations on the availability of local channels.
- Not misrepresent the availability of sports programming.
- Not represent that a consumer would get cash back if the consumer would actually get a bill credit.
- Clearly notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee.
A copy of the lawsuit filed December 16 and the settlement, which is awaiting court approval, are attached. For more information please contact Janey Pearl at (602) 542-8019.