Dish Network has agreed to pay $6 million in a settlement with 46 state attorneys general, resolving allegations the satellite TV provider and its third-party retailers violated do-not-call rules and engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices.
The company also agreed to modify its marketing practices and to pay restitution to consumers who filed complaints with the attorneys general's offices or with Dish between January 1, 2004, and July 9, 2009.
In addition, consumers who file complaints before December 14, 2009, may be eligible for restitution if the conduct occurred within the past two years, by contacting Dish Network's customer service center at 888-686-2388.
Dish, in a statement, said there was no finding of any violation or wrongdoing by the company and added that the states released it from the matters investigated.
"Customer satisfaction has always been a top priority for Dish Network, and we continuously implement new approaches to strengthen our customer relationships," Dish executive vice president Tom Cullen said. "We are pleased to work with the state attorneys general in a cooperative manner to enhance our products and services."
After a multistate investigation into Dish's practices, the satellite operator was accused of: having made telemarketing calls to consumers in violation of do-not-call rules; representing that equipment was new when, in fact, it was used or refurbished; failing to disclose all terms and conditions of their customer agreements, including the availability of rebates, credits and free offers; charging customer credit cards and debiting bank accounts without providing adequate notice and obtaining appropriate authorization; and refusing to accept responsibility for the misconduct of its third-party retailers and installers.
Under the terms of the settlement, Dish's advertising must clearly outline whether signing up for a minimum term of service is necessary to receive an advertised price; whether penalties apply -- and if so, the penalty amount -- in the event a customer cancels service; all fees and cost of service, including additional charges if the customer requests more than one satellite receiver; whether local channels are available to subscribers and if premium sports packages are subject to blackouts; and all limitations on available customer rebates.
In addition, Dish must provide customers with a copy of the service contract before its satellite is installed and provide a toll-free customer service number for customers who have questions. The company also must comply with federal regulations regarding customers' preauthorization to transfer funds from their bank accounts and ensure that its third-party retailers and installers abide by the terms of the agreement.
The 46 states are: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
A copy of the settlement agreement is available here: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/MRAY-7TZJUW/$file/DishNetworkAVC.pdf