Satellite TV settlements
Problems and misunderstandings with the marketing, sale and service of satellite TV equipment and programming has lead to hundreds of consumer complaints filed with the Attorney General’s office, the Better Business Bureau and other consumer organizations. In recent years, the Attorney General’s office has participated in several national investigations of the trade practices of satellite TV companies. Both major satellite providers, Dish Network and DirecTV, have entered into agreements with the Arkansas Attorney General’s office and other states’ attorneys general addressing practices of misrepresentation and nondisclosure. These settlements have established guidelines for the marketing and sales of satellite TV services and important consumer protections.
As part of the DirecTV settlement, that company is required to:
- Clearly disclose all material terms to consumers.
- Replace leased equipment that is defective at no cost, except for shipping costs.
- Not require consumers to enter into additional contracts when simply replacing defective equipment.
- Disclose when a consumer is entering into a contract.
- Notify consumers before a consumer is obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package.
- Disclose all limitations on the availability of local channels.
- Not misrepresent the availability of sports programming.
- Not represent that a consumer would get cash back if the consumer would actually get a bill credit, not cash.
- Notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee.
Dish Network Settlement
In the States’ settlement with Dish Network, that company is required to:
- Explain limitations on the availability of services, fees and penalties that consumers may have to pay and minimum terms of service and any fees if service is terminated early.
- Refrain from selling used or refurbished equipment without disclosing that it is used.
- Handle its rebates and credits in a manner that is clear to consumers and disclose all the terms of any “free” offer.
- Institute procedures for the formation of contracts between consumers and Dish and requires Dish to disclose the material contract terms.
- Take certain steps to protect consumers from the third-party retailers who handle installment and servicing of the satellites.
- Comply with Do No Call regulations, which the company had previously violated.
Each settlement focuses on making sure consumers are provided with complete and accurate information before signing a contract. The standards of behavior set forth in each settlement benefit all satellite customers going forward.