DOJ: News Release

Bullock Announces Settlement with DIRECTV, Encourages Affected Consumers to Seek Restitution DIRECTV settles allegations of deceptive advertising and agrees to change marketing practices

HELENA – Attorney General Steve Bullock, along with his counterparts from 48 other states and the District of Columbia, announced a settlement Wednesday with DIRECTV to resolve consumer protection allegations leveled by their customers.

Bullock and his colleagues alleged that the satellite TV provider engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices. As part of the settlement, DIRECTV agreed to pay restitution to consumers and to alter its business practices in the future.

“Those consumers who believe they have been affected — including those who have already filed complaints — should immediately seek restitution,” Bullock added.

The states received complaints that DIRECTV:

  • did not clearly disclose to consumers the price that they would be charged and the commitment term that consumers 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;
  • enrolled consumers in additional contracts when replacing defective equipment;
  • did not clearly disclose to consumers that the company would automatically renew a seasonal sports package; and
  • offered cash back to consumers when, in actuality, they would only receive bill credits.

The settlement announced today 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 they are 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.

CONSUMER REFUNDS:
Unresolved complaints sent to DIRECTV or to the Montana Attorney General’s Office which involve conduct addressed in the settlement and which occurred after January 1, 2007 are eligible for the restitution program. Additionally, consumers may file a complaint with DIRECTV or with the Montana Attorney General’s Office by June 9, 2011, in order to be considered for the restitution program – so long as their complaint relates to activity that occurred after January 1, 2007.

DIRECTV will attempt to resolve the complaints directly with consumers. However, if a complaint cannot be resolved, DIRECTV will inform the consumer that the complaint may be resolved by a Claims Administrator and will mail a Claim Form to the consumer. The Claims Administrator will then resolve the dispute between the consumer and DIRECTV.

Consumers seeking to file a complaint may contact DIRECTV at 1-800-DIRECTV or visit www.directv.com/ag/.

Bullock was joined in announcing the settlement by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, 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.

The Montana Department of Justice, Office of Consumer Protection may be contacted by phone at (800) 481-6896 or (406) 444-4500 or via e-mail at contactocp@mt.gov.

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