Troubleshooter: DirecTV troubles

June 9, 2008 6:46:33 PM PDT
Costly troubles canceling a TV service.

When Marianne Burke got fed up with DIRECTV she decided to cancel. What she says she didn't know is that canceling came with a cancellation fee, plus she got socked with more charges because despite sending the equipment back, DIRECTV said they didn't get it all.

Marianne's problems started when she tried to cancel her service because her bill continued to climb. She tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "The bill kept fluctuating and I said alright let me call them again and figure of what's going on with my bill." When she didn't get a direct answer, she says she asked if she could cancel. She adds, "I said I didn't know I had a contract. He said yes it's a one year contract and it will cost you $60.00. And by the point I decided to make the change it was January and this time when I called it was a 2 year contract and it was going to cost me $160.00."

Marianne said she never even knew she was locked into a 2 year contract. Her next problem came when she had to send the equipment back to DIRECTV. She says, "We got three boxes and I put all receivers and DVR and put them in." A few weeks later, Marianne not only got billed the $160.00 early termination fee, but another $200.00 for not returning DIRECTV's DVR. A DVR she returned and had the FedEx receipts to prove it. She called DIRECTV and wrote a letter disputing the charges, but the charges continued to add up and she got turned into collections. That's when Marianne e-mailed Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

DIRECTV looked into it, located Marianne's DVR, and also as a gesture of good faith they also waived her cancellation fee, getting rid of more than $350.00 worth of charges. Marianne adds, "If I wouldn't have gotten you involved I wouldn't know where I'd be at this point."

A rep for DIRECTV said the mix-up with the DVR happened because of how Marianne returned the equipment. Instead of putting one piece of equipment in each box, she put all of it into three boxes, so it required additional checks to verify DIRECTV got everything. As for crediting the cancellation fee, a rep said the charge is valid, but offered to credit hoping Marianne would return to DIRECTV in the future.

Marianne's not alone in her confusion, many DIRECTV customers complain to me about the early termination fee, you might not notice when you sign up, but their service comes with a contract. Before you sign up, know what that length is so you're not surprised with fees if you try to cancel.


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