Court orders $280 million from Dish Network, largest ever Do Not Call penalty

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It’s a record-setting win for America’s consumers and a resounding affirmation that the Do Not Call Registry means DO NOT CALL. Eight years of tenacious litigation by the Department of Justice, the FTC, and the Attorneys General of California, Illinois, North Carolina, and Ohio has resulted in a $280 million civil penalty against Colorado-based satellite TV provider Dish Network. The ruling imposes additional remedies that emphasize just how seriously companies should take Telemarketing Sales Rule compliance.

Dish marketed its services directly through its own telemarketers and vendors, and through authorized dealers and retailers – what it called its Order Entry Program. Those companies pitched Dish programming to consumers, with Dish completing the sale.

Among other things, the lawsuit alleged that Dish initiated or caused others to initiate calls to numbers on the Do Not Call Registry. Dish vigorously defended its conduct in court, but after hearing the evidence, a federal judge ruled that Dish was liable for more than 66 million calls that violated the Do Not Call, entity-specific, and abandoned call provisions of the FTC’s Telemarketing Sales Rule. The Court also held that Dish violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and multiple state laws.

Although “Dish has minimized the significance of its own errors in direct telemarketing and steadfastly denied any responsibility for the actions of its Order Entry Retailers,” the Court found Dish culpable both for its direct calls and for illegal calls made through its dealers. As the Court held, “Dish initially hired Order Entry Retailers based on one factor, the ability to generate activations. Dish cared about very little else. As a result, Dish created a situation in which unscrupulous sales persons used illegal practices to sell Dish Network programming any way they could.”

In explaining the $280 million civil penalty, the Court ruled that “the injury to consumers, the disregard for the law, and the steadfast refusal to accept responsibility require a significant and substantial monetary award.” In response to the company’s objection to the dollar amount, the Court concluded that “Dish’s plea of poverty borders on the preposterous.”

The Court expressed particular concern about the company’s attitude toward people who complained about unwanted calls: “Dish’s denial of responsibility and lack of regard for consumers are deeply disturbing and support the inference that it is reasonably likely that Dish will allow future illegal calls absent government pressure.”

“[T]o keep Dish’s marketing personnel from reverting to their practice of trying to get around the rules,” the Court imposed four notable injunctive provisions – and they come with teeth:

  • Dish will have to demonstrate that the company and its “primary retailers” – the order defines that term – are complying with the Safe Harbor Provisions of the TSR and have made no pre-recorded calls during the five years preceding the order’s effective date. “If Dish fails to prove that it meets this requirement, it will be barred from conducting any outbound telemarketing for two years, and if Dish fails to prove that the Primary Retailers meet this requirement, Dish shall be barred from accepting orders from such Primary Retailer for two years.”
  • Dish must hire a telemarketing compliance expert to prepare a plan to ensure that the company and its primary retailers are honoring telemarketing laws and the Court’s order.
  • The federal and state plaintiffs can ask the Court to approve unannounced inspections of the facilities and records of Dish or its primary retailers. In addition, for a ten-year period, twice a year Dish must send telemarketing compliance material to the federal and state plaintiffs, including all outbound telemarketing call records.
  • Whether acting directly or through authorized telemarketers or retailers, Dish is prohibited from violating the TSR.

An injunction applies just to the company in question, of course, but businesses can glean compliance tips from the Dish litigation.

Keep your own house in order and watch what others are doing.  The scope of the Telemarketing Sales Rule is broad. If you don’t want to be called to answer for TSR violations, establish effective monitoring and compliance programs that apply in-house and to people or companies that market your products.

Take consumer complaints seriously.  Dish received so many complaints about one company that its Legal Department prepared a standard letter that conveyed, in the words of the Court, “go away, it’s not our problem, go after Satellite Systems.” When people are riled enough to contact you directly with a complaint, evaluate what they have to say and adjust your practices accordingly.

Courts are free to impose remedies that exceed what parties may agree to in a settlement.  Dish argued that civil penalties were lower in some recent TSR settlements, but the Court rejected that apples-to-oranges comparison: “These settlements are worth little or no consideration in the calculations of civil penalties in this case. Parties who settle negotiate a settlement sum to avoid the time and costs of litigation. The parties also negotiate a settlement to avoid the risk of a judgment in a fully litigated matter.”

State and federal law enforcers are united – and dogged – in the fight against illegal telemarketing.  Litigation is rarely the first choice of government agencies, but if companies prefer to go to trial, consumer protectors will see them in court. What’s more, we’re united in our commitment to effective Do Not Call enforcement. In its findings, the Court concluded “that at least some in Dish management do not believe that Dish really did anything wrong or harmed anyone with these millions and millions of illegal calls.” Federal and state law enforcers disagree – and we think the people who placed 226 million numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry are on our side.
 

Comments

That is a good thing, but as a Dish customer, I can, almost for certain look, forward to a price increase in my program billing.

I FEEL DISH NETWORK SHOULD BE NOT ONLY PENALIZED SHOULD BE CLOSED FOR EVER, THEY LIE TO THE PUBLIC FOR THE PRICES THEY OFFER ARE 100% FAKE, IS ONLY LIES AND TRICKS TO GET MORE STUPID CUSTOMERS

What happens with all the settlement I am one of those millions consumers and I will not see any of the settlement. mary

Reread the article so you understand it

I feel Dish as well as various Media/Data providers OFTEN violate several billing and charges/fee laws if the FTC or any Regulator looked at closely. I'm grateful the FTC is enforcing this. The FTC has set the laws and guidelines and yet so many businesses , like DISH feel they are entitled in some manner, and these laws do not apply to them. I have learned of a family member that resides in a rural community and is disabled has but only one internet cable provider and it is DISH. I am hopeful the FTC will continue to monitor their Do Not Call patterns as well as their Anti-Trust compliance. I question they are walking a thin line in rural areas of Robertson Co. Tn.? I am looking forward to the great work the FTC continues to do for our citizens and will be tracking DISH for cost increases after settlement has been paid out. Respectfully, Concerned

I get robo calls constantly from companies that I have not even done any business with. They are very annoying. Along with them being annoying, on my cell phone they take minutes that I would rather spend on talking with relatives or friends. Sometimes when I do answer, I end up just putting the phone down until I hear the beep the shows they have hung up. I feel that if they waste my time, I will waste theirs.

Rules do not apply to large organizations. They abuse us with impunity and take the right people to play golf and it all goes away. These robocalls are horrible and an abuse of the American people.

Thank you.
Now I've got a way to fight those robot calls. Just explain to them $280 million fine. That they might respect.
I'm on the do not call list and get 4 or 5 calls a week from tella marketing.

Thank you FTC for finally doing something about the landslide of illegal calls that most of us on the laughable "Do Not Call List" receive each and every day !!! Perhaps other companies will see that violating the law and annoying us with their daily calls will cost them BIG in fines and simply stop calling us.

I'm glad the giant company got nailed to many times the little guy gets pushed around . Thank you for help protecting our rights as a consumer

All of my life I have seen laws get twisted to the advantage of those that have money. Clearly Dish Network thought they could flought regulations, and break the laws meant to protect consumers without penalty. Or if penalized the most it would be was perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars. To them it wouldn't have been even a slap on the wrist. They broke those regulations clearly with full intent to break them, injuring millions of people so they could make many millions of dollars. To them the only thing that counted was the money they would gouge by invading public and personal peace and privacy.
That a court would choose to punish them in a way that totally matched the level of injury, and what's more made sure that they would be closely monitored in future is the finest example of what the judiciary was meant to attain. Protecting the public really was their mandate. Thank God the court had that courage, and that intelligence. Too often we have seen laws which erode citizens rights, in favour of government which was meant to protect those rights. In this age of virtual serfdom to mega financial interests it's encouraging to see those rights protected. Once again " to that Court I offer my humble and sincere thanks! "

I strongly agree with this verdict. But Dish Network is not the only company or persons violating this 'No Call' ban. I have subscribed my numbers several and yet. The calls keep on coming. The calls come up as 'UNKNOWN CALLLER' , ' NO CALLER ID', etc. I have even attempted to call the number that does show up a call back, The number does not normally ring but rather comes up as a non working number. I block these but still the calls keep coming, recently while I am away on vacation in Spain an 'Unknown Caller' called and I answered thinking it might be the VA. I was angered when a gentlyman answered trying to solicit me. I let him know I am on Spain for vacation and he just cost me quite a few dollars. He did quickly hang up. The companies just show me they have no regard for the FTC or our privacy when we enter our numbers on the 'Do Not Call Registry'. I greatly appreciate this action against Dish Network. But this effort and fines induced needs to continue to happen to protect US the US Citizen from harassment. Thank You.

Even after numerous calls asking them to not only stop calling, but also entirely delete me and my family from their system...they still relentless call. I've been nice, I've been stern, I've been rude. Nothing affects their protocol. I work nights, and have repeatedly been awakened by the phone, only to hear their propaganda again, and again, and again. I've told them that I have registered with the do not call registry, and by that they were committing a federal crime by continuing to call me. One of them once asked me what the do not call registry was. Really? Need I say more?

Thank You !! Really glad these pests have been taught that their actions are not going to be tolerated. Don't give them any leniency or reduction, treat them just like they did the people they pestered.

Bet ur bottom ur gonna see a rate increase. Dish Network is a scumbag company, repeatedly screwing over customers and then showing no remorse for the wrongs they have committed. They just got out of court with tvaddons.ag suing them for copyright infringement, I'm sure, trying to find a way to save their sinking ship. And then claiming poverty? It couldn't have been said better:

Preposterous.

Im happy they got fined for their actions. Finally some justice for the consumer.

I get robo calls constantly from companies that I have never done any business with. They are very annoying.and calls are never ending even when I say I am on the Do Not Call List. Along with them being annoying, on my cell phone they take minutes that I would rather spend on talking with relatives or friends. Sometimes when I do answer, I end up just putting the phone down until I hear the beep the shows they have hung up. I feel that if they waste my time, my monie and waste there time and monie..

It's nice to see some sort of action being taken, but personally I think the no call registry isn't worth a grain of salt. Maybe this will set an example for all the others that violate it as well.

About time these big company get fines up the kazoo....I have all my phone numbers on the " The do not call list" and they still call me....told them to remove my number from their list ....I have AT@T dist services.....

I am tired of getting calls from companies over and over again. If I want to do business with them I will make the call. Maybe getting fined will make them not ignore the do not call list and hopefully other companies will think of this hefty fine before they make calls.

I get bombarded with these tele sales calls all the time and I've got MS! They do stress me out which doesn't bode well with my condition! May it be my home phone or my cell (I don't understand why and how they got my cell?) but it has to be once a day or more a day!!! It's called a "Do not call list" for a reason!! And for that to be put into place some companies charge you a fee NOT TO GET THESE CALLS!! Ironic? Cold calling is highly illegal so they SHOULD be fined the heaviest amount to set a bar for all the rest of the cold callers!!! Dish network are a shocking company who's track record isn't good at all! I'm just glad I'm not one of there customers because if I was I would cancel my sub because now no doubt payments WILL RISE to cover costs! So they might have no choice in going under! Don't imagine they would be missed!

I'm glad this happened.
I've been getting harassed by them for a long time.
When someone cancel service with you that means that they don't want the service and they don't want to get harassed either.

It's about time. If they violate the agreement they should be banned from broadcasting indefinitely.

It's good to see that big company's are NOT above the law! I signed up for the "do not call list" for a reason and for them to completely ignore that does not set a good precedence for any other rule or law out there. If they would have gotten away with this I believe it would be the continuation of a downward spiral of confidence in our laws for big businesses or any business for that matter.

So sick of spam phone calls. I had no idea that tv/internet/phone service co's were behind all that obnoxious spamming on my phones. Thnx fed government for keeping the heat on the those responsible for unwanted sales calls on my phones. Now get after that Indian Microsoft security department pests that know no shame by spamming me several times a week.

I didn't think this law was still in affect because I add my name to the Do Not Call List and it has only gotten worse, I get at least 5 to 6 calls a day on my cell phone from police donations to credit repair companies (I have a 780 fico score). Glad to see someone actually enforcing this law, hope you collect the penalties to stop this harassment to the American people.

This company ofert me one week free trial and at the end of the week I decided not to keep because the channels that they promised are not included, when I asked to stop the service they said that is impossible and send me a bill for $140.00 , they rob me

I'm glad to see Dish Networks get hit with this fine, they have completely disregarded the law and then turned around and sued small organizations for supposed copyright violations. This is a clear example of "do unto others". CUT THE CORD PEOPLE!!! CUT THE DISH TOO!

I haven't used cable companies for years especially " Dish ". It's all just a bait and switch scam.

I haven't used cable companies for years especially " Dish ". It's all just a bait and switch scam.

Outstanding FTC! When will these companies EVER abide by these DNC lists. Maybe now. Keep up the good work.

I am infuriated by companies calling me all day long (and i have been on the "Do Not call List for many years).
Also my girlfriend went on the internet to get some insurance info.(she had to leave her phone number to get it) and for mounts after i got calls from a gazillion companies (that she NEVER contacted). Further, i also get calls on my cell phone. ( I will never know how they got that number)

Thank you for this! Now, don't take a settlement. Make them pay the full $280,000. These robo calls are like unwanted guests infiltrating your home at will. *Everyone* on the Do Not Call Registry needs to report every single unwanted call so that the FTC can see the true scope of the problem and do its job.

Thank God at least this is a start. They have been calling me for years I have told him to take me off their calling list but they refused to do that and keep calling back. This is a win for the people and I hope it continues with all vendors that are calling on the Do Not Call list. Thank you.

Finally, a company gets dinged in a big way for disregarding the Do Not Call list. I feel somewhat vindicated, and I can only hope that other companies and corporations will take note and stop infringing on the public's rights to not receive telemarketing calls at all hours of the day. I had to disconnect my landline because the calls got to be so troublesome. What a huge relief.

Was tired of them calling me so just ended ip getting service with them so they woild stop calling worse customer service

Dish Network always calls at my parents home and just constantly tries to get my elderly mother to switch to there crappie service. We have asked to be removed from their list but parents still receive unwanted phone calls. Stop harassing my elderly parents.

Thank you for enforcing the law.

It's about time

I add my name to the do not call list and it gotten wore.
( IT"S ABOUT TIME )
THANK YOU TONY

It is about time, and I do not think it is enough. The court needs to go back and not allow them to raise their rates to pass this along to the customer, this needs to come from their profits, and heads should also roll. How about they publish the personal phone number of the people involved and their names, a little payback is always good !

I'm quite happy to see this happen to a large corporation. Although I've never had dish or ever worked for them I have been a victim of another very large corporation. Being charged for a subscription to a company 4 times in one year without any consent (other than the first time which was canceled) and one of those 4 times I didn't even have an account or a registry or even a profile. But they still dug up my old information (that was deleted) and charged my accounts with absolutely no confirmation. I honostly hope to see the FTC focus on the large corporation issues and deal with them accordingly like this dish network lawsuit. Anyway the company I'm talking about is AMAZON. Hope to put a birdie in your ear. Great news.

Well it's about time someone has paid for their abuse of our time and energy. I still get calls every day from abusers of the do no call list. This is the only time I have heard of anyone actually being punished under the law.
Now if you could do something with the credit card and travel industries.I 'm afraid that the current administration only cares about greed, not the dignity of those they are sworn to protect.Oh well. at least one day of good news!!!!

OK... Now they got slapped with a $280 million fine.. Who get's that money? How do consumers benefit? When do we get refunds?

I am glad to see this happening. I can't stand getting unknown calls on my business line. It really impacts my day to take calls like this. I am glad our government will do something about it. Put that money to good use!

It's good to see that companies that violate the law are brought to task. Dish used to call me repeatedly even through my phone number was listed on the DNC registry. Thank you FTC

So I guess Dish Network is suing TV Addons so they can pay this settlement...
People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones!

Dish Network ''s privately contracted call centers called me for years, 3 or more times a day, every day. Dish told me they had no way to determine who was calling me and even gave me info to set up a fake account so they could figure out which call center was calling. When I had that info I let them know by email who called. They never replied. The calls continued even though I called and emailed them numerous times . I recently notified them again. I am glad to see them getting a fine like this, they drove me crazy.

Why was there no jail time attached to this judgement. With more than a million complaints about this company and their total disregard for the justice system and their customers. This company should be sold to someone who respects law and order and their customers. $280 million is not nearly enough. I hope the other 45 attorney generals will pursue justice. And, teach dish network to abide by the consumer laws of the country.

What about all the money dish network stole from me beginning in 1998, with minors ordering movies on the Television unauthorized by myself the bill payer. Over $ 2000.00 I had to pay to Dish.

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