DirecTV Inc. has promised to reimburse unhappy customers and to make its advertised offers more clear, according to a settlement the satellite broadcaster reached Monday.
LAS VEGAS – DirecTV Inc. has promised to reimburse unhappy customers and to make its advertised offers more clear, according to a settlement the satellite broadcaster reached Monday with 22 states over complaints of deceptive marketing.
The company admitted no wrongdoing in agreeing to repay Nevada and 21 other states $5 million for the costs of a task force that has tracked consumer complaints about DirecTV contract fees and small print provisions since 2000.
The payment does not represent a fine, officials on both sides said.
Some customers had complained that DirecTV didn’t provide local channels, while others were dissatisfied with installation, activation and reception problems, and with fees charged for delayed activations and terminations, Nevada Attorney General George Chanos said in a statement announcing the settlement.
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“The states’ position is that certain material disclosures were not clear and conspicuous enough,” said Gianna Orlandi, a deputy Nevada attorney general.
The agreement was voluntary and included no finding that DirecTV violated any state or federal law, said Robert Mercer, spokesman for the El Segundo, Calif.-based company.
“We agreed to settle to avoid the costs and uncertainties of litigation,” he said.
No lawsuit had been filed, and states were expected to file documents, known as “assurance of discontinuance,” in their courts or consumer protection offices to end their investigations.
The other states involved were Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia.
The settlement calls for DirecTV to clearly inform consumers of their rights and obligations when accepting an advertised offer, and requires the company to make restitution to customers who have filed related complaints.
Disputes generally focused on local channel availability, sports programs being blacked out, and equipment fees and costs, Mercer said.
“Most of the advertising which prompted the states’ allegations was prepared by independent retailers and not DirecTV,” the company said in a statement promising “to more closely monitor the advertising practices of the independent companies with whom it does business.”
Mercer could not estimate the cost of providing restitution to customers in the 22 states, but said some complaints might be resolved for as little as a credit for a free pay-per-view movie or event.
Mercer said states should receive their share of the $5 million fund before the end of the year.