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Attorney General's News Release

December 15, 2010

Attorney General Koster announces settlement with DIRECTV for deceptive practices--state to receive $185,000; consumers to get restitution--

Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster said today that Missouri has reached a settlement with DIRECTV regarding allegations that the company engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices. Forty-eight other states and the District of Columbia also joined the settlement.

Koster said that under the settlement agreement, DIRECTV will pay Missouri $185,000, will pay restitution to eligible consumers, and will alter its business practices in the future. He said the total national settlement amount was $13.25 million.

"We intend to ensure satellite and cable television services play by the rules," Koster said. "This agreement sends a message to all service providers that Missouri will enforce its laws for fair business practices and take action whenever they violate those laws."

Koster said the state received complaints that DIRECTV:

  • Did not clearly disclose the price the consumer would be charged and the length of time the consumer would be required to keep DIRECTV services;
  • Did not clearly disclose the limitations on getting a certain price for DIRECTV;
  • Enrolled consumers in additional contracts or contract terms without clearly disclosing the terms of the contract;
  • Enrolled consumers in additional contracts when replacing defective equipment;
  • Did not clearly disclose that seasonal sports packages would automatically be renewed; and
  • Offered cash back to consumers but actually provided bill credits.

The settlement requires DIRECTV to:

  • Clearly disclose all material terms to consumers;
  • Replace defective leased equipment at no cost, except for shipping costs;
  • Allow the consumer to replace defective equipment without being required to enter into an additional contract;
  • Clearly notify consumers before renewing a seasonal sports package;
  • Clearly disclose all limitations on the availability of local channels;
  • Represent accurately the availability of sports programming;
  • Represent accurately whether a consumer will get cash back or 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 the Attorney General that fall within the terms of the settlement and occurred after January 1, 2007, are eligible for the restitution program. Additionally, consumers can file a complaint with DIRECTV or the Attorney General by June 9, 2011, to be considered for the restitution program as long as the complaint is about activity that occurred after January 1, 2007.

DIRECTV will attempt to resolve the complaints with consumers. If a complaint cannot be resolved, the consumer will receive information about how to resolve the complaint with a third-party claims administrator.



 
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