DirecTV has reached a settlement agreement with States Attorney Generals in all 50 states over consumer complaints about its advertising, customer service and third-party retailer policies.
A DirecTV spokesperson said the settlement included $14.25 million for court costs in all 50 of those states, plus an as-yet undetermined amount for restitution to consumers.
The complaints date back to January 2007, according to Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray in an e-mailed release about the settlement, which stems from allegations of deceptive and unfair business practices.
For example, Cordray said his offices had received 1,714 complaints over that time, including that DirceTV did not clearly disclose prices, limitations on certain special pricing and automatic renewals on at least one seasonal deal. There were also allegations the company offered cash back, but provided only bill credit and enrollled customers in additional contracts without clearly disclosing the terms or when replacing defective equipment.
According to Cordray, DirecTV has promised 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 receive cash back if the consumer would actually receive a bill credit; and
*Clearly notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging
DirecTV says it has already made many of the "customer improvements" that are part of the settlement.
"We are pleased that more than 99 percent of our customers are extremely happy with DirecTV's service," the company said on its Web site. "But in a business where we serve more than 19 million customers and take more than 120 million phone calls a year, we recognize that we don't get it right every single time.
"DirecTV is committed to always operating with the highest standards of integrity and will move forward with
continued dedication to providing the best video experience possible for our customers," said Mike White, chairman of the company in announcing the settlement.