Hundreds of consumers burned by big fees and terms buried in itsy-bitsy fine print
SEATTLE – DIRECTV has generated more consumer complaints to the Washington Attorney General’s Office than any other business in 2009. Those complaints from Washington residents signal a serious problem, said Attorney General Rob McKenna, who has had enough.
Announcer/Reporter: What is your office’s response to the complaints about DIRECTV?
MCKENNA: (directv1 – 8 seconds)We announced today that we’re suing DIRECTV for their sales practices because we believe DIRECTV has violated our state’s Consumer Protection Act.
Announcer/Reporter: How many consumer complaints are we talking about? What are consumers saying?
MCKENNA (directv2 – 28 seconds )
This is a very big issue in Washington state. More than 700 Washington consumers have lodged complaints with our office about DIRECTV. And they’ve complained about everything from rebate terms that were extremely confusing and rebates that provide no actual value, to so-called free installations or upgrades that weren’t free at all. They’ve also complained about costly cancellation fees and about having to turn over their Social Security numbers for a credit check, or having to pay big deposits in order to have their system actually installed.
Announcer/Reporter: Why do you think consumers are surprised or confused by DIRECTV’s fees?
MCKENNA: (directv3 – 19 seconds)The problem is that consumers are buying these services over the telephone after they see the television ads. They don’t find out they're on the hook for a two-year contract until after they’ve signed up for the service. They don’t know about the monthly service charge that’s going to increase a great deal after the first year. That’s in the itsy-bitsy fine print.
Announcer/Reporter: What should DIRECTV do to improve its disclosures?
MCKENNA: (directv 4 – 10 seconds)
We have demanded of DIRECTV that they use a size of print that a regular person can read without a magnifying glass or powerful eyeglasses.
Announcer/Reporter: What do you hope to accomplish with this lawsuit?
MCKENNA: (directv5 – 25 seconds)Our number one goal is to get the company to change its practices. We’re not here to put anyone out of business. We’re not here to punish a company unnecessarily. We’re here to get them to change their practices, to treat their customers fairly. We have had four times as many complaints about DIRECT’s satellite television service than about their biggest competitor.
DIRECTV News Release
Media Contact: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager – Seattle, (206) 464-6432