DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that his office has joined a $13.25 million multistate settlement with DirecTV to settle allegations that the satellite television provider engaged in deceptive trade practices. Colorado will receive $185,000 under the multistate settlement.
Under the settlement, DirecTV will be required to take several steps, including:
- Make clear and conspicuous disclosures in its service contacts concerning, for example, the pricing, monthly costs and the programming contained in packages or deals consumers might purchase;
- Provide its customers with a grace period following each bill to dispute charges;
- Not renew consumers’ contracts without their express consent;
- Replace any defective leased equipment at no cost to consumers;
- Not renew their customers’ contracts when they replace defective equipment;
- Clearly disclose the availability of local channels;
- Notify its customers of any fees it will charge 10 days prior to such a charge being applied to a customer’s account or credit card;
- Pay restitution to its customers who filed complaints with the Office of the Attorney General or the Better Business Bureau over the past three years about being improperly charged termination fees or other undisclosed fees.
DirecTV is responsible for a high volume of consumer complaints the state has received in recent years. Consumers filed 224 consumer complaints concerning DirecTV with the Office of the Attorney General through the end of November — the fourth most of any company during that period. The state received 169 consumer complaints concerning DirecTV during the 2009 calendar year, the second most of any company behind a national rebate scam.
Unresolved complaints sent to DirecTV or the attorney general that involve conduct addressed in the settlement and occurred after Jan. 1, 2007 are eligible for restitution under the settlement. Consumers also can file a complaint with DirecTV or the Office of the Attorney General by June 9, 2011 to be considered for restitution so long as the complaint concerns activity that occurred after Jan. 1, 2007. If DirecTV cannot resolve the complaint, the company will inform the consumer that the complaint can be resolved by the claims administrator overseeing the settlement’s restitution program. DirecTV then will mail consumers a claim form to be filed with the claims administrator.
This is second multistate settlement Colorado has joined over the past 16 months regarding the business practices of a satellite television provider. The Office of the Attorney General announced in mid-July 2009 that it was part of a $5.99 million multistate settlement to resolve allegations that Dish Network had engaged in deceptive trade practices. Colorado received $125,000 as part of the Dish Network settlement.