A Tonawanda, New York couple had just this problem. Bill and Kim Schwartzkopf were, at one time, clients of DirecTV. At the point at which they believed their contract had run its course, the couple retired their satellite service and switched to cable.
"However the couple, as they told a reporter from WGRZ 2 On Your Side TV in Buffalo, was surprised to receive notification of a cancellation fee of $400. After contacting Direct TV, they were told that their agreement had been automatically extended when they took delivery of a new receiver. Kim Schwartzkopf said they were never told that updating their receiver would mean an extension of the agreement, and a supposed confirmation mailed to them never arrived. "I never received anything," Schwartzkopf told WGRZ. Oddly enough, the reason why the new receiver was required in the first place was because the old one wasn't working.
A spokesperson from DirecTV told WGRZ that the fee issue had been resolved, and the Schwartzkopfs were issued a credit for the amount. DirecTV maintains, however, that the cancellation fee was a valid charge.
And there are more stories. Abby, blogging from Los Angeles California said that after she cancelled their Internet service because it didn't work, a DirecTV contractor shut off her pre-paid TV service in January. Not only has she not been extended a refund, but also she is also allegedly receiving monthly bills for $25. She feels she is owed $1,000 by this time.
Ramiro, of Paramount California writes that he was promised thirty days to change his mind, within which he could cancel his agreement without penalty. However, after finding himself out of work and calling to cancel his agreement within the promised thirty-day window, he was told that the actual window was 24 hours. Thus, DirecTV told him that to facilitate the canceling of his agreement, he would be required to shell out $20 per month for 18 months. That's a year-and-a-half's worth of payments, for a service he is no longer using, that he is allegedly required to pay, even though he is out of a job.
And Krishnan, of Belmont California writes that when they signed their two-year agreement for DirecTV, they were promised time and time again by the sales representative that they had nine days in which to cancel the service, "for any reason."
With small children, Krishnan was disappointed at the lack of children's programming suitable for young children, so the call was made to cancel within one week, and certainly within the promised 9-day cancellation window.
However, upon speaking to a customer service representative, they were told that the 9-day cancellation window claimed by the sales rep was not valid, and that they would have to pay a $350 cancellation fee. There was no offer to waive the fee in light of the incorrect information provided at the time of sale, nor was there any willingness on the part of DirecTV to track down, or speak to the sales person involved.
According to Krishnan it was unfortunate, and gee we're sorry and it's really too bad, but you have to pay up.
It has been reported by the consumeraffairs.com website that the few hundred dollars it costs to bring an armload of satellite equipment home from the store is basically a deposit on equipment that is far more expensive than the customer is led to believe. In reality, the lion's share of the equipment cost is said to be built into a binding, multi-year contract that ensures not only service costs, but also the equipment costs over the life of the agreement. Also said to be built into the contract is a hefty cancellation fee, which is presumably there to ensure that the manufacturer gets its money out of the equipment, should you decide to cancel early.
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In the end, it is always wise to carefully read what you are signing, and insist that you be given the opportunity to do so. Don't let anyone rush you through it. Beyond that, if you were promised one thing, only to find that reality is something completely different, a DirecTV litigation lawyer can help you.
"Gee, we're sorry?" Indeed...