$13.25 Multi-state Settlement Reached with DIRECTV over Allegations of Deceptive Advertising

HARRISBURG – The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, along with 48 other states and the District of Columbia, have reached a $13.25 million multi-state settlement with DIRECTV involving claims that the satellite TV provider engaged in deceptive and unfair sales practices.  Pennsylvania  will receive $605,000  for costs of investigation and/or future public protection purposes.

Attorney General Tom Corbett said today’s agreement is the result of a multi-state investigation into consumer claims against DIRECTV, including:
. Not clearly disclosing prices and commitment terms.
. Failure to clearly disclose limitations on certain prices for DIRECTV services.
. Enrolling consumers in additional contracts or contract terms without clearly disclosing the terms to consumers.
. Enrolling consumers in additional contracts when replacing defective equipment.
. Not clearly disclosing that seasonal sports packages would be automatically renewed.
. Offering cash back to consumers, when the consumer would actually receive credits on their bills.

“Businesses have an obligation to provide consumers with clear and specific information about their products and services,” Corbett said.  “This settlement addresses consumer complaints that we have received about DIRECTV and also requires the company to take steps to avoid future consumer confusion and problems.”

Corbett said consumers may be eligible for the restitution program established under the settlement if they have unresolved DIRECTV complaints involving the issues that are covered by this settlement, which occurred after January 1, 2007.  Unresolved complaints that have already been filed with the Attorney General’s Office will be considered for the restitution program, along with any new consumer complaints that are received by DIRECTV or the Attorney General’s Office within 150 days of  January 1, 2011.  Consumers may file complaints with the Bureau by calling 1-800-441-2555 or on-line at www.attorneygeneral.gov

The settlement requires DIRECTV to attempt to address all covered complaints with consumers.  In situations where a complaint cannot be resolved by DIRECTV, consumers will receive a claim form by mail, along with instructions for contacting the claims administrator, who will then resolve the dispute.

Corbett said the agreement also requires DIRECTV to:

. Clearly disclose all material terms to consumers.
. Replace leased equipment that is defective at no cost except shipping costs.
. Not require consumers 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 they are 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 will get cash back if the consumer will actually get a bill credit.
. Clearly notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee.

Corbett said the settlement was filed today in Commonwealth Court by Senior Deputy Attorney General Thomas Blessington of the Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  The settlement, in the form of a Consent Petition, requires Court Approval.

Pennsylvania served on the Executive Committee’ along with Tennessee, Texas, Massachusetts, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon.  The settlement includes Pennsylvania, along with the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia.

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