Attorney General Troy King today announced that Alabama is among the states that have reached an agreement for DIRECTV to pay $13.25 million to settle consumer protection allegations. The states alleged that the satellite TV provider engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices.
In addition to the $13.25 Million, DIRECTV also agreed to pay restitution to consumers and to alter its business practices in the future.
“I am pleased that DIRECTV has agreed to change its marketing practices and that consumers will receive restitution for problems they have experienced,” said Attorney General King. “This is a significant achievement that better protects consumers. I encourage all Alabama citizens who have had these types of problems with DIRECTV to file a claim for restitution. ”
The state received complaints that DIRECTV:
· Did not clearly disclose to consumers the price that the consumer would be charged and the commitment term that 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; and
· 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; and
· Clearly notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee.
Unresolved complaints sent to DIRECTV or the Attorney General that involve conduct addressed in the settlement and occurred after January 1, 2007 are eligible for the restitution program. These consumers who already have filed and have pending unresolved complaints do not have to re-file for restitution. Other consumers may file a complaint with DIRECTV or the Attorney General by June 9, 2011, to be considered for the restitution program as long as the complaint is about activity that occurred after January 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.
To file a claim for restitution, consumers can file a complaint on DIRECTV’s website at www.directv.com/ag, or by calling 1-800-DIRECTV. Alternatively, consumers can file a consumer complaint with the Attorney General’s office by visiting the website at www.ago.alabama.gov, by writing to 500 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36130, or by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-5658.
In addition to the Alabama Attorney General, others participating in the agreement announced today include the Attorneys General of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.
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