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States Announce $13.25 million settlement with DIRECTV

States Announce $13.25 million settlement with DIRECTV

Anchorage, Alaska – Acting Attorney General Richard Svobodny announced today that Alaska and 48 other states and the District of Columbia have reached a settlement with DIRECTV to resolve claims of deceptive and unfair sales practices against the satellite television provider.

DIRECTV will pay $13.25 million to the states to settle the consumer protection complaints. Alaska will receive $185,000.

DIRECTV also agreed to pay restitution to consumers and to alter its business practices in the future.

The states received complaints that DIRECTV:

· Did not clearly disclose to consumers the price that would be charged and the commitment term that the consumer would be required to keep DIRECTV services;

· Did not clearly disclose to consumers limitations on getting a certain price for DIRECTV;

· Enrolled consumers in additional contracts or contract terms without clearly disclosing the terms to the consumer;

· Enrolled consumers in additional contracts when replacing defective equipment;

· Did not clearly disclose to consumers that they would automatically renew a seasonal sports package; and

· Offered cash back to consumers when they actually would get credits against their bills.

The settlement 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 additional contracts 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 would get cash back if the consumer would actually 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.

Unresolved complaints sent to DIRECTV or the Alaska Attorney General’s Office that involve conduct addressed in 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 the complaint cannot be resolved, DIRECTV shall inform the consumer that the complaint can be resolved by a claims administrator and mail a claim form to the consumer.  The claims administrator will then resolve the dispute between the consumer and DIRECTV.

Alaskans who believe they are eligible for restitution can contact the Consumer Protection Unit of the Alaska Attorney General’s Office by calling 907-269-5200, or outside of Anchorage, 1-888-576-2529, or by sending an email to consumerprotection@alaska.gov.

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