FTC says DIRECTV wasn’t so direct about fees and negative options

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Have you seen the ads where a popular celebrity touts DIRECTV on his own behalf and as the Painfully Awkward, Overly Paranoid, or Crazy Hairy version of himself? Applying that to a lawsuit just filed by the FTC, there’s DIRECTV – and then there’s Deceptively Advertised DIRECTV.

DIRECTV is one of the biggest names in the business with more than 20 million customers. Through TV, print, direct mail, phone, and online promotions, the company advertises satellite TV packages for as low as $19.99 a month for 12 months. What’s more, DIRECTV said premium channels like HBO and Showtime are “free for 3 months.” But according to the FTC, DIRECTV failed to adequately disclose the true nature of the deal, meaning that consumers got stuck with higher prices and unauthorized charges.

The complaint offers a closer look at how the FTC says DIRECTV’s practices were misleading. For example, DIRECTV touted that eye-catching $19.99 monthly rate for 12 months of service without clearly explaining that: 1) Consumers couldn’t actually sign up for 12 months of service because DIRECTV required them to commit to 24 months; and 2) In the second year, DIRECTV typically hiked up the monthly fee by between 50-70%. Consumers who experienced bill shock at the start of that second year and wanted to cancel faced hefty termination fees.

The FTC also says DIRECTV’s “free for 3 months” premium channel offer was a deceptive negative option promotion. How did it work? DIRECTV typically enrolled consumers in the promotion automatically without clearly stating that unless consumers took the affirmative step of canceling before the end of the three-month period, DIRECTV would bill them extra for it every month. According to the complaint, after the “free” period ended, DIRECTV went ahead and used consumers' credit or debit card information without their consent to charge them for the service. And we’re not talking chump change here. The FTC says the monthly fee for those channels was around $48.

The lawsuit is pending in federal court in California. Meanwhile, here’s something for businesses to note in the pleadings. In addition to alleging that DIRECTV failed to disclose – or failed to adequately disclose – subscription prices and the nature of the premium channel offer, the FTC says the company's online practices violated the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.  Passed in 2010, ROSCA makes it illegal to charge consumers for goods and services sold through online negative options unless the seller:

  1. clearly and conspicuously discloses all material terms of the transaction before getting the consumer’s billing information;
  2. gets the consumer’s express informed consent before making the charge; and
  3. provides a simple way to stop recurring charges.

This is a case you’ll want to watch.

 

Comments

PLEASE tell me if you've resolved this. I had called Verizon because I wanted verizon fios, and they evidently put me through to "Direct Star" without telling me. I was told I could get into a two year bundle for $76.48 a month for Verizon phone and internet and directv service. As it turns out, I'm not in a bundle at all. I was told the price was guarenteed for three years and I see now that directv is more than doubling after the first year, and to cancel I have to pay early termination fees. Has anyone made any progress with getting out of this FAULTY contracts? If so please email me at gmail!

These people should be put out of business. I recently closed my account. They sent me a statement showing a credit balance in my account. They do not show their address in the statement. Call their phone number to get an address to mail a request to and you will get a run around from somebody who argues with you about something they know nothing about and then says they will transfer you to their billing department. Then you get cut off, more like they deliberately cut you off. I need to have an address for them and I'll mail the request. Does anybody have one?

Same issue! we closed out our account and paid in Full in March . Now all of sudden getting bills and its going against my credit. They supposedly have fixed it 3 times and I keep getting bills and no one looks in the notes and they can't listen to the recordings! It's BS. i'm so mad. I'm emailing the CEO today.

You just go to FTC and fill out the form
This class action suit began in 2015
Call the FTC and find out more information

The FTC suit is a law enforcement action brought to protect the public interest. That's a little different from a class action law suit filed by a group of consumers. The FTC case is still in litigation, but we'll post on the Business Blog if there are developments of interest to customers.

They never told me my cable would double after twelve months, now they say I have to get an additional AT&T line or product and then they will re instate the original price that was quotes. Talked to a loyalty person in the south east RODNEY, he was rude, said I could not speak to another person, the only was to change this is to ADD ANOTHER AT&T PRODUCT FOR ANOTHER YEAR!! When I signed up at the AT&T store I specifically told the salesperson I HAD TO Hve the bill under 60.00 , did he think that it was just for 12 months???? U cannot even read the contract because it's on this small machine where you sign too, you have to rely on a HONEST SALESPERSON. THATS A JOKE

I have had a horrible time with DirecTV is well.
We were charged installation fees and the installation had been wrong while we paid Direct T.V. contractors directly out of pocket.
Also, we were promised a $100 Visa gift card that never came.

After being a loyal customer for 5 years, I was hit with a hefty termination fee because within the last two years of my service I took what I thought was a complimentary hardware upgrade at DTV's advice without knowing or being told the equipment upgrade automatically put me into a new two year contract.

Boost Mobile did the same thing to me when I had to purchase a new phone. They said since it was a different phone they changed my plan. Then they started throttling back my speeds for internet and if I recall that is something the FTC was addressing as well. Shady,shady. I have learned to live minimally because the deceit will break you financially and emotionally because it isn't like the matter is settled in ten minutes. Consumers need more fighting power.

Same here but 7 years of loyalty. hefty termination fee. They won't budge. I also thought the upgraded equipment was part of my protection plan that I paid $7.99 a month for. They told me the only way they waive the termination fees is if it is due to death, or poor health where the person has to go to the hospital or care center long term How NOBLE!

I'm going through this issue now, also 2 1/2 years ago. First time I was pregnant and didn't fight it, this time I'm fighting it. I moved and was told I would be in new contract with upgrade. So I said no, just cancel my service, because I was in no contract then and could go under a new company. The directv employee assured me he would not put me in a new contract. I even talked to another directv employee to be sure he could and was doing what he said (no contract) and she told me I would have no new contract if he said that, so all was good, so I thought. Kind of like a bad car salesmen you get to lower the car price and they put in original starting price and your screwed over. They record their phone calls, so I am fighting for what I was told. I repeatedly asked as they lied 2 1/2 years ago similarly, both times didn't know I was in new contract until went to cancel service. Fraud to lie to keep a customer and lock them in. uhhggg.

Yes, us, too. We were upgraded to the Genie recorder. We've recently decided to cancel DirecTV. Imagine my shock when we hear we were put into a contract for a year when we got the Genie! For us we only had to wait 30 days for the end of the contract, but, again with *AT&T owned* DirecTV it's lie after lie, hiding the truth, the run around, billing cards for more money than revealed to the customer without authorization and my newest favorite: the customer cannot delete their information from their databases. That's right. We have automatic bank draft....which I regret.

I also just saw an increase in what was taken from my bank account, and called to find out why. and was told that the promotion period had ended. This is unethical practice.

I got a direct tv package and cancelled the movie channels no problem, but as I was trying to bundle services as they advertise, it was a 4Mb internet connection. Can u say dial-up? I tried to cancel, but this was after they had already started the tv, so the answer was a cancellation fee of $480. That was not disclosed. I really need to get rid of this service, as I now have Time Warner and Direct TV. Anyone know how to stop the service?

l too was scam by direct tv l was charged $50.00 for installing another tv another tv after says we could have 5 rooms tv installation and that was my contract cheated him on the eguipment they charged him around $4,000 and cheated me $122.00 and did not had a contract with them and stolded my indentity from the checks that my brother asked me to after he pays me the monies we share paying the bill.

Just signed up with DirecTV in early January, second bill (Feb) saw and increase due to equipment fees and an added sports channel tax for which I do not even subscribe. When I called to cancel my service, I was told I would have to pay a $400 fee to cancel. I was thrilled to hear in today's news that the FTC had filed a complaint against DirecTV.

I see that DirecTV is offering special incentives for recruiting a friend to their service, I attempted to contact them through their website and let them know how absurd this was and that I will do everything that I possible can to steer not only my friends, but anyone that is interested, away from DirecTV as passionately as I can. Unfortunately, I could not find anyway to email them with my feelings about their offer. GO GO GO FTC.

I went to the directv.com website and found this email: investorrelations@directv.com
I don't know if it's what applies to what you were looking for, but it might be worth a try.

My experience was they could never explain why each month my bill was different and we never ordered pay per view or anything. I would call to attempt to review my services/package with a live associate, none could ever tell me why my bill was different each month nor could he or she tell me what my package would cost. Of course it was supposed to be a lot cheaper when I signed on than what I was billed. We finally satisfied our contract and cancelled and never looked back. I throw any offers received in the mail or newspaper in the trash without even looking at them..

Hefty $300 termination fine..large monthly bill. Would not work with consumer if could not pay by due date by one week. Yet now I keep getting mail from them to come back, offering to give a $300-$350 Visa to terminate with Uverse. What a joke?

Directv got me too I have been complaining every since I got the service last March.hey hiked my rate up considerably after promising me that my rate would never go up. PLease get them to stop this practice I cannot afford this astronomical price hike I want to get out but they will get you with this high cancellation fee. One year is one year I should be able to pay the same rate as promised or get rid of it for this deceptive practice. This is blackmail for the consumer, We should not have to be held hostage for the greed of big corporations.

My username speaks for itself, i dont believe directv "Cheats" anyone, when they advertise their packages and what ever else, it says plainly that thats for 12 months within a 24 month commitment, even on their contracts THAT PEOPLE SIGN, it states about the additional fee for receivers, the 50.00 service call is if you dont have the protection plan, directv itself does not hide anything, its because people choose not to read the terms and agreements, and choose not to read, guys were grown ups now, time to act like it. Go to directv.com go to the botttom and click TERMS AND AGREEMENTS its all there, i know cause i got curious and just read everything, i dont even have directv and i know their premiums last only 3 months and the "New customer offer" Lasts a year and after that their prices go to regular pricing

Yes, the contract clearly states that. But what it does not make clear is how after a month they can raise service rates so as to increase their profit without ant further outlay. They are crooks, semi legal, but still crooks.

Then u believe wrong. I wasn't home when they installed yet they say I gave them authorization to go into my bank account when I signed up. They put your debit card on file and use it at their discretion to debit whatever they decide. They are notorious for this, as I found out, and had to get Bank of America and the Treasury Dept. involved!!

Tell me then, how is it they can lie, lie, lie. Twice for me with about 3 years between each time. I asked the 1st time if the discount they were giving me at the time after my contract was up, if it was going to put me in a new contract. I asked repeatedly and repeatedly I was told, "no" by them so I said okay. well that was lie, cause yup put me in a new contract. 2 months ago I moved, no contract, I upgrade, the directv employee tells me would make me have new commitment, so I said, "no" I'll just cancel service. Like the first guy he says he will then waive it and I will have no new contract. even after i asked repeatedly if he could for sure do it and after talking to another directv employee to confirm I wouldn't have a new commitment agreement, i agreed to keep directv and do the move upgrade. Well as you can guess, I now learned yes I am in a new contract agreement. The only thing I did wrong is not get it in writing what I was repeatedly told. Directv will do anything to keep and cheat and lie to people. They need to train better or care for their customers better. No one was honest with me, so where is that my fault? Other than I should have just walk away or made them put it in writing first. trust me i will with any company now.

People look at your bill, everything is listed on your bill. Like for instance. anything that changes is listed on your bill under what has changed. People grow up read your terms and conditions everything is listed in your agreement plus if you have a email address they send you a copy of terms. You are told about the premium s are free for 90 days and you must call in to cancel within the 90 days. You say Directv are crooks I say that you all are crooks looking for hand out because your not being responsible. Grow up Grow up. I love Directv service.

Yes, like you I believe people should read more and I've been a loyal directv customer since 1998 and wouldn't think of going elsewhere but after my 45 minute call to directv. I now believe since ATT took over it is now down the [deleted]. I was LIED to by the rep that said I could receive a genie mini with installation for FREE. Plain as day FREE. I would see the charge on my bill but it would also be credited off the bill. NOT SO. my bank account was debited an additional $108.65 for the genie mini. Rep and supposedly the supervisor said "No way to get the credit on my bill because I wasn't entitled to any credits at this time". If this isn't fradulent practices by ATT. I don't know what is

I am being over charge by them as well everytime I call hoping a better knowledgeable customer service representative can tell why are my new charges more than my usual monthly bill they add and add but at the they just give me the round around the bad thing they did this after they supposedly lower my bill with another 12 month agreement. I am just so tired and stressed out with DirecTV. Any suggestions of what I can do? By the way I was on their autobill but I change it so they can send me the bill to my address, hopefully they don't take out of my account!

I did read my contract. But when the salesman says after your first yr just call direct tv and they will give you the same discount the 2nd yr. Then the installer shows up and installs direct tv and you ask the installer is it true they will give you the same discount the 2nd yr and he says yes if you call them.
The the direct tv rep calls you to see how the install went and you tell them then ask if i call direct tv when my first yr is up will you'll give me a discount the 2nd yr and they say yes. Then you should be able to get the same discount the 2nd yr.
There all liars from beginning to end.
When my 2 yrs is up i will drop there lieing ass.
Ps they left me a broke remote even the installer said it was broken. He said he had no more on the truck just call direct tv and they will send a new one. Yea they will send a new one for 35.00 . All liars

I would like to know why you can click on their Packages page, and it says the Choice package is 29.99, no wait that's crossed out, you can get the choice package for only 19.99 right now, but only for 12 months. Oh and by the way, it doesn't actually cost 29.99/mo, it's 49.99, but they hide that in the details so you'll hopefully miss it and just sign up, which is apparently what for me, because my first thought when my bill just went up 30% was, "49.99? it said 29.99."

Check this out; Direct tv customer for 11years via verizon bundle I paid aprox. $80 a month. Very happy with the service etc.. Sold my house move out date was June 09/2016, called verizon to cancel the bundle as of june 09, 2016 verizon said to call direct tv to inform them, I did. All bills paid in full and get a statement from direc tv(never get a statement always verizon, said i had a $59.92 credit great. Get a bill now from direct tv dated 6/10/2016 to 7/4/2015 for $225 no itemization except to say verizon. so from 6/10/2016 to 7/04/2016 I used $225 worth of service when my typical bill was $80. I called 2 x spoke to a supervisor in India of course and she said they would charge my Credit Card on file. Good luck they have no billing info or a valid address. I'll see them in small claims. Get off your high horse BlahblahBlah oh I was not under any contract since i was on the verizion 1 bill. Bunch of crooks with white collors...

well i did not finish reading your post blahblahblah and who does that anyways so disrespectful but i am going to tell you i did not see an advertisement for direct tv so count me out for being one of those you think are incapable of reading the fine print i called to inquire about service and told them exactly what i could afford and not afford i told them what all my preferences were and were not at the end of this conversation they had given me a complete and total final set price i would have every month locked in set monthly bill for the 24 month contract they promised me there was no hidden equipment charges nor extra things that would cause my bill to be more than 69.99 a month locked in price well i just received my first bill and guess what the 69.99 i was told to see turned into 180.00 $ so how the heck you say with honesty in your statement that direct tv is not a rip off is beyond me other than your mentality appears to be in your user name right go get an education or a job that requires more than a ged and valid id try educating yourself before you put yourself in the line of fire for everyone to see your foot in your mouth

BS. They sat on the phone and promised several times, NO NEW CONTRACT!! Before hanging up, I made him repeat the terms twice. No new contract. Guess what? New 2 year contract. So blah blah blah.

You can tell the FTC about a problem you have with a company. Go to www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

they been ripping us off for 3 0r 4 years we started out at 99,00 a month now our bill id 229.00 combined with ATT they are totally ripping us off we are scared to do anything thinking our bill will go higher we are on a fixed income

I was one of those customers too! Charge $680.00 for cancellation, and charged for the equipment. Glad someone is looking out for us. Lost all my money had to pay.

I currently employed to set up directv accounts Although I do agree with the price increase on the 2nd year above what I consider affordable on my budget. It is not just directv with these business practices we are required to read the terms and conditions to the customer and have to get a clear yes after reading them verbatim to the customer. That fact that you have to call and cancel the premium movie channels after 3 months the instant rebate for the first 12 months only all equipment fees, and dvr fees, regional sports network fees and the cancellation fee of 20 per month not completed. We have to a get a clear yes for understanding from the customer before we process the order. All television and internet providers have the exact same practices on pricing 1st and 2nd year. What the two year service agreement also locks and guarantees the pricing for both years. The companies that don't have an agreement can raise prices at will anytime they choose. We allow you to resize your package as your needs change. We are adults and it is up to us as consumers to make sure that we understand fully what we are getting and listen to the representatives you speak with if you not given correct information by the representatives there is always the escalation process to remedy the situation We refer this as a point of sell escalation and calls are pulled and if rep misquoted any information to the customer Directv will honor the customer and the rep is out of a job. Now if you want to know who really gets screwed. It the employees of the third party vendors that pay us to sell directv and how we get screwed out of the paychecks on a regular basis. I could write a novel on that but that's to be continued.

Funny you say what you say, NOT SO Happy. I was told 2 months ago and 2 1/2 years ago by 2 different directv employees they were waiving my contract agreement at the time. Both times I was not in a contract any longer and both times I was going to go with a different provider and both times I was lied to to keep me as a customer. First time I was told no new contract would be added and found out months later, that was a lie, I did have a 12 month contract added. EVEN after the directv employee told me I wouldn't, after I asked and asked him to be sure and he confirmed with me, "no" Recently I moved and was again in no contract agreement any longer with directv. I was told my upgrade would put me in a 24 month contract, I said "no" and just cancel my service. The 2nd guy, like the first said he would waive the contract. I told him the story of the first incident and not being very trusting with what he said he could do, he assured me. I even got transferred to another directv employee and asked them if he could do that and it was lagit and she stated yes. Joke is on me, turns out because I signed a blank computer pad for my signature at hook up day at the new house I okayed a new contract, is what I'm being told now. How when I signed and read nothing? How when I was told none would be added before?? Fraud activity. I asked and asked and said no to a new contract, yet they snuck it in. Now I have to fight this, if they listen to the phone tapes they will hear their employees lies. Illegal. Need to train better and be for their customers better. WHY would I have went in a new contract when I moved? I would have went with a new company as a new customer to save $ or have my roommate go to directv as a new customer, bother ways saved more $. What a joke.

I have used both Direct and Dish for television. Though Dish appears to be higher I never had to worry about hidden fees, costs, and deception in their advertising. Don't mind paying for something that I agreed to, but more importantly on the PRICE that I agreed to. I understand AT&T has now purchased Direct (not sure this is correct). Anyone that remembers AT&T from about 30 years ago will remember that their salesmen were predominately liars and would swear his or her great great great great grandfather was still alive just to get a sale; once AT&T had a monopoly and had you signed up, there wasn't anything they wouldn't do for an extra dollar. In my opinion, Dish is the lesser of the 2 evils. Just my opinion.

SEND OUR MONEY BACK WITHOUT filling out more forms and leaving the excess money to the government like with the Lehman brothers deal. How many people with aurora loans lost out due to forms. Millions!

Direct tv over charged me too how do I add my name to the lawsuit

It looks like there is no government in this country while DIRECTTV is doing such illegal things on its customers. I was told to get $10 discount if I bundeled their service with centurylink. I did not get the discount. Also my monthly bill for directtv was 39.99 a month and they changed to 100.76 , then i cancelled their service. They charged me 380 cancellation fee. This is so ridiculous , the do not care about the rule of law.they need to be regulated

I was put in the contract through AT&T which told me that DirecTV was my only choice because they had no more promotion an now AT&T and DirecTV I'm feeling at the same time I got my service on September 15th less than 7 days I needed another box the first bill was 67.88 I sent 70.00 my next bill was 70.00 then 91.00 so cancelled AT&T so DIRECTV charges me $10 more getting rid of AT&Tso I have a bill from DirecTV for $91 and meal for $141 from AT&T trying to get out only been a customer September 15th and truly sad about it Help me please!!!!!

How do I get my name on that list?

How do I get my name on that list?

We have been in a nightmare with direc tv over two years.
The packages we were forced to pay, when they were never order. We are paying a month behind when we paid a month in advance. Always double talk from customer service . How can the Ftc allow companies like this
keep ripping off the American people.

I also experienced the 2 yr contractural term vs 1 yr; however I was smart enough to put a date in my phone as a reminder to call to cancel free options. I have been with Direct TV for several years and their prices continue to increase (not to happy about that) but on the other hand, I applaud their customer service when called.

I work for directv sales and I can tell you for a fact it's all a rip off. I'm looking for a new job it's so stressful and so much lying and deception to the customers

Thanks for your honesty. I tell them every time I called that they are liars. That just isn't good business to deceive customers.

I spent 2 hours on the phone with Directv yesterday. I spoke to 9 different people and every other one told a different story. Never resolved the issue. Almost all of them had a poor attitude. I believe that one representative of the 9 actually felt a little stressed about the things I was telling her. One out of 9 had a conscience. I'm sure it does weigh on you.

I was given " free HBO " , however after the 3 months I was charged ! I was nver told you have to call to cancel and was charged . When I called they credited me back for that month but not previous months . I would like those months credited back .

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