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Directv Charging me ETF, They can't provide service


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#1 OFFLINE   dewrock

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 08:37 AM

Hi, I was forwarded to this website by a friend because I have an issue with Directv. Here's my story:

I signed up for DirecTV in February of 2008 and was under a 24 month commitment. I then moved back to Roanoke (from Radford) at the end of July and set up the service to be moved. I added another receiver and was told that would put me under an 18 month commitment but would basically just take the place of the other commitment that at the point was at 18 months. I asked if they were unable to install the service what would happen and they said they would cancel the "mover's connection" and waive the shipping and handling charges of the additional receiver.

Well the installer came and was unable to find a line of sight on the balcony of my apartment, which is the only place they could install it. He canceled the work order and told them it was because of a line of sight issue. I called Directv and told them of this and they said they would escalate the issue and would most likely have commitment/early cancellation fee waived because there was a line of sight issue. She said I would receive final word on the decision in about 10 bus. days, which I did not. I sent the receivers/remotes/smart cards back. A week or so later I got a call asking where the receivers were, FEDEX said they had been delivered. So I called Directv again to make sure and they said they had gotten them. I asked once more about the early cancellation fee because I hadn't heard anything about it but had gotten a final bill for $0.00. She said nothing was noted but that most likely it had been waived if I hadn't heard by now and had gotten a final bill asking for no money.

Now over a month later I have gotten a letter expressing regret that I had to cancel and that they hope I would consider them again in the future...and oh by the way you owe us $378 for early cancellation. I called and explained what had happened and they said that it was a valid charge and that what had been escalated to be waived was an additional commitment for the "mover's connection" and the cancellation fee for that, which they said had been waived but that the original commitment and cancellation fee was still valid. I explained that I had been told nothing about a new commitment with the "mover's connection" and that two separate CSRs had told me that the "cancellation fee would be escalated and waived".

No one had told me there were two separate commitments/cancellation fee, which to me is completely illogical and absurd. I talked to two different people (one was the supervisor I had asked for from the first girl who hung up on me), they were both rude and basically told me that the decision had been made, they couldn't help, and wanted no more to do with me or my questioning. I asked what the notes on the account said and they told me that there were no notes explaining two separate cancellation fees/commitments. The supervisor I spoke to told me that it was pointless to tell me what the notes said but I got her to eventually tell me. I got her to admit that no one had told me this on either call I made. She admitted that there were notes saying they told me that they were just escalating the issue of the "mover's connection" commitment/cancellation fee. She said she was sorry I was misinformed but that it didn't matter. I told her I was misinformed twice, she said too bad. But she said that it wouldn't matter and there wouldn't be any notes pertaining to that because "they have standard procedures that say they are supposed to tell the customer this". I told her that was all well and good but that having things you are supposed to tell the customer and actually telling the customer are two separate things.

So basically the whole time she was trying to get me off the phone and both ladies told me the only thing I could do was write a letter to the billing dispute department, which for some reason can't be reached via telephone.

Sorry for the long post but wanted to give all the details. My main question is how legal is this? First off can Directv legally extend my commitment without actually telling me? This question is kind of whatever because it was probably in some fine print on a bill or something. Although to hear the girl I talked to tell it, anytime you move or upgrade you extend your commitment, as she was trying to tell me that I was now under a three year commitment. I said that this didn't make any sense because new commitments are supposed to take over your prior commitments. With that logic, I could upgrade 3-4 different times over the course of 6 months and by then I would be under something like a 4-5 year commitment. Doesn't make any sense but it's par for the course I guess considering they basically told me I was under two separate contracts.

Anyways, sorry to ramble. The real question is can they legally charge me an early cancellation fee when they can't provide the service at my new residence? I'm all for honoring a contract and would have liked to continue with Directv but they can't find a line of sight and therefore can't keep up their end of the contract. Their reasoning is that I signed up for it at one house and they were able to provide it there. So they're pretty much telling me that I can't move.

I sent a letter to the billing dispute department detailing the problem and they wrote back with what seemed like a generic letter, basically telling me "tough luck, you're SOL".

Directv took the money from me without authorization and I tried to get them to refund it but they wouldn't. I then disputed this with my bank (Bank of America), BoA gave me the money back and presumably got the money back from Directv since Directv sent me a new statement asking for the $378 and showing a credit card reversal.

My dad has advised me since the beginning to not pay it and said I could dispute it later if it went to collections. Well I've now been getting calls (starting 11/10) from Allied Interstate since Monday say Directv is a client of theirs and asking for resolution on the bill...saying I can pay via credit, debit, or set up payments. They say they are giving me a chance before they will send me to collections, which is kind of silly since they are collections (although there is nothing on my credit report about a collections account). They basically tried to strong arm me into paying the bill by threatening me and saying "You should have paid your bills" and "Have fun trying to buy a car or house in the future" and I told them that I would have a big old party about it. I said I wasn't going to pay it because it's not a valid charge.

Anyways, I've gotten a call a day since Monday. What can I do about this? I don't think it's technically gone to collections yet since it's not on my credit report. The charge is for "only" $378, if it goes to collections how much will it hurt my credit score and what not? How can I dispute this as I really don't see how they can legally charge me a cancellation fee when they couldn't provide the service? If I was to take them to small claims court would I have a legitimate shot at getting the charge/collections dropped? Could I go to a lawyer an get them to write a letter or something?

Any help would be appreciated and sorry for the long post, but I wanted to get all of the info out there.

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#2 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:00 AM

I would email Ellen Filipak at ellen.filipak@directv.com.
Be nice [not that you aren't] explain everything and ask for help.
This is the office of the president, which has "other" people to correct "problems".
If DirecTV can't supply you with service, it's "not your fault" and you shouldn't be charged.
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#3 OFFLINE   mtnrick

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:21 AM

I would honor my committment and pay the fee. Direct waived the concurrent agreement and installation charges when they were unable to complete the new install, however it was not Direct's fault that you moved and did not complete your original two year agreement at your previous location. As a subscriber I don't feel like I should subsidize your decision to move be completing your agreement. Now let me duck before the stones come my way :)

#4 OFFLINE   ejohnson

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:22 AM

Make sure that you get any agreements made in writing, and make sure you hold on to them. Also save copies of the shipping paperwork from your returned equipment (confirmation numbers, etc)

I had a similar issue a few years ago. All termination fees were agreed to be waived & all the receivers were returned. Six months later I got a letter from a collection agency looking for the ETF. The burden of proof was on me. Everything worked out OK, but only because I sent them copies of those documents.

I'm sure everything will work out for you as well, just be patient and pleasant.

#5 OFFLINE   dewrock

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:33 AM

I would honor my committment and pay the fee. Direct waived the concurrent agreement and installation charges when they were unable to complete the new install, however it was not Direct's fault that you moved and did not complete your original two year agreement at your previous location. As a subscriber I don't feel like I should subsidize your decision to move be completing your agreement. Now let me duck before the stones come my way :)


No stones, but are you saying that I (or anyone else) shouldn't be allowed to move? The contract between me and Directv says they provide me with satellite television and I pay them each month. If they can't provide me with that service then why should I be penalized? And besides Directv never told me that I was under an additional commitment, just a new one, and they never told me that this additional commitment was the one being waived. I was led to believe that because of no line of sight that the whole thing would be waived. What kind of sense does it make to have multiple contracts?

Additionally, if I wanted to move to a place with no line of sight just "to get out my contract", then why would I make sure my apartment complex allows dishes (even though they can't not allow them), make sure I got an apartment that faced south, ordered an additional receiver for my 3rd roommate, and got the renter's insurance that my apartment complex requires? It wasn't until the technician came out that he realized there was no line of sight. I wanted to continue having Directv, I like it. But I called and told them there was no line of sight and wasn't even given any other options...they just told me they would go ahead and cancel the account and escalate the ETF to we waived because of no line of sight. I wasn't afforded any other options like setting it up at my parent's house or something until the contract was finished.

#6 OFFLINE   David MacLeod

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:37 AM

wonder if a different installer COULD get a LOS, although it may be to late at this point.
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#7 OFFLINE   tcusta00

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:37 AM

Same thing happened to me when I moved to my new house... you just need to be persistent. If they can't deliver the service they can't hold you to a contract and it's positively absurd for anyone here to suggest otherwise. Like VOS said above, email Ellen Filipiak if you can't get anywhere with the normal channels.

FWIW, after a year with Comcast I ended up buying a chainsaw anyway to come back to DirecTV. :sure: :lol:

#8 OFFLINE   dewrock

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:41 AM

wonder if a different installer COULD get a LOS, although it may be to late at this point.


Yeah it's way too late at this point as this was back in July and all of the equipment was returned. If I wasn't led to believe that everything was cool and no ETF would be assessed, then I would have tried other stuff like setting it up at my parent's house or just having them come out repeatedly to try and install it until they finally got the hint.

Oh and I don't think any other installer could have gotten a LOS, brick wall on my balcony facing south.

#9 OFFLINE   dewrock

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 09:42 AM

Same thing happened to me when I moved to my new house... you just need to be persistent. If they can't deliver the service they can't hold you to a contract and it's positively absurd for anyone here to suggest otherwise. Like VOS said above, email Ellen Filipiak if you can't get anywhere with the normal channels.

FWIW, after a year with Comcast I ended up buying a chainsaw anyway to come back to DirecTV. :sure: :lol:


Yeah I just rattled off an email to her and included the letter I sent certified to the Billing Dispute Department. We'll see what happens.

#10 OFFLINE   BattleZone

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:12 AM

Let me start by saying that it's very likely that DirecTV is going to cancel the commitment and ETF.

Having said that, you agreed to keep the service for 2 years. Even if you didn't know at the time that you were moving, you still had a responsibility to that commitment. I know lots of people who move to apartments who have taken the time to make sure the apartment they were moving into would have line-of-site for their dish. When they look at places, if it doesn't have LOS, they move on to another apartment in the complex or go look at another complex. Knowing you had a commitment, this could have been done.

Again, DirecTV will probably drop the whole thing just to maintain good customer relations, but contractually, they aren't required to, so if they do, realize that they are giving you a "gift" that other subscribers have to pay for. They likely lost money giving you the service, as you haven't kept it long enough for them to recover their costs of getting it to you. Those costs get passed on to everyone else.

Just something to think about.

#11 OFFLINE   JoeF

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:37 AM

Again, DirecTV will probably drop the whole thing just to maintain good customer relations, but contractually, they aren't required to, so if they do, realize that they are giving you a "gift" that other subscribers have to pay for.


I agree with the concept of what you say, however the problem is they already blew the "customer good will" when they dug heels in over the ETF. No matter what happens now, I suspect it will be a LONG TIME before the OP will consider becoming a D* subscriber again. The "pay it forward" for D* was to throw a bone and plant seed corn for his next move. If he was treated right, he'd make darn sure his next place has LOS.

#12 OFFLINE   Jared701

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:45 AM

Before I ever signed up I asked about this issue. I was told by a CSR that there would be no ETF if I moved and was unable to get LOS at the place I moved to. It's sad to see that I was lied to ONCE AGAIN by a CSR or got one who had no training and yet the customer is expected to pay the bill for the misinformation we were assured.

#13 OFFLINE   rudeney

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:46 AM

If they don't end up waiving the charges, and you continue to refuse to pay, they take you to court. If so, it will be small claims court, so you can represent yourself or get a lawyer if you don’t feel comfortable with that. If you are served a summons to appear in court and you MUST do so – do NOT ignore the summons! Note that you may be successful in requesting continuance if the date is a conflict. When you do appear in court, basically explain to the judge what you explained here:

Well the installer came and was unable to find a line of sight on the balcony of my apartment, which is the only place they could install it. He canceled the work order and told them it was because of a line of sight issue. I called Directv and told them of this and they said they would escalate the issue and would most likely have commitment/early cancellation fee waived because there was a line of sight issue. She said I would receive final word on the decision in about 10 bus. days, which I did not. I sent the receivers/remotes/smart cards back. A week or so later I got a call asking where the receivers were, FEDEX said they had been delivered. So I called Directv again to make sure and they said they had gotten them. I asked once more about the early cancellation fee because I hadn't heard anything about it but had gotten a final bill for $0.00. She said nothing was noted but that most likely it had been waived if I hadn't heard by now and had gotten a final bill asking for no money.


Everything D* does is by "verbal agreement". Their verbal agreement to waive fees is just as valid as your verbal agreement to the original contract and commitment terms.

#14 OFFLINE   Matman

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:46 AM

Only other 2 cents I can add to this one, hang on to all your documentation on this one, if they do start posting things on your credit report noting account sent to collections, it is something that will haunt you for a few years. If you have all the documentation that will help, but its something that will not only drag down your score, but is flagged right at the top of the report. You obviously have mitigating circumstances, I would hang onto a copy of everything just in case to show how it got there and how it wasn't your fault.
For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
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#15 OFFLINE   jbeskow

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 10:56 AM

I would also add at the end of your letters to DirecTV that you did enjoy getting DirecTV but due to the LOS you cannot have it right now, but if DirecTV resolves this quickly and easily you will definitely reconsider DirecTV in the future after you move to place that has a LOS for you to receive DirecTV. And then DirecTV will more than make up for any loss they are taking now.

It is possible the CSR did not have the authority to eliminate the charge and that is why they said there is nothing they could do. If I ever come across someone saying that I always clarify if they have the authority or if their supervisor/manager does. If neither of them do I ask if they can transfer to someone that does or ask them for recommendations on how to resolve my issue. In about everyone situation I have been in they are very nice about it.

I would also send a letter to the collections department as well to explain the situation. Collection companies always use scare tactics to get people to pay. I would not pay it either.

If nothing else get a friend that works or owns a law firm to use their company letter head. I know someone that did this because they were getting horrible cell service after moving and after the letter they received a letter stating it the early cancellation fee was waived.

#16 OFFLINE   tcusta00

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:03 AM

I don't see anywhere in the service agreement that says that the customer needs to maintain LOS or he's gonna pay an ETF:

http://www.directv.c...assetId=P400042

If they can't deliver the service to the customer then it's absurd to assume they can penalize him. Most normal people don't go around with a compass assessing where their DirecTV dish is going to go on their new property (though I know a lot of people around here do just that). In addition to the lack of legal backing in their contract, they're destroying any goodwill and the chance that the customer will come back someday if he moves again.

#17 OFFLINE   edpowers

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:05 AM

Let me start by saying that it's very likely that DirecTV is going to cancel the commitment and ETF.

Having said that, you agreed to keep the service for 2 years. Even if you didn't know at the time that you were moving, you still had a responsibility to that commitment. I know lots of people who move to apartments who have taken the time to make sure the apartment they were moving into would have line-of-site for their dish. When they look at places, if it doesn't have LOS, they move on to another apartment in the complex or go look at another complex. Knowing you had a commitment, this could have been done.


How do you know? Do you just automatically expect every person to understand the finer points of Directv Slimline dishpointing and line of sight issues? Give me a break. He agreed to service for 2 years and Directv can no longer provide that service. Is that his fault?

I am in a similar situation where I am moving and HOPE I have a decent line of sight. I have installed Slimline dishes in the past, but I'm still not certain I can get above the tree line. I asked the mover connection if they could give me their opinion. What do you think their answer was? No way.

#18 OFFLINE   David MacLeod

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:17 AM

sometimes moving is not a choice either. need to keep that in mind during these theoretical discussions.
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#19 OFFLINE   dewrock

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:30 AM

Let me start by saying that it's very likely that DirecTV is going to cancel the commitment and ETF.

Having said that, you agreed to keep the service for 2 years. Even if you didn't know at the time that you were moving, you still had a responsibility to that commitment. I know lots of people who move to apartments who have taken the time to make sure the apartment they were moving into would have line-of-site for their dish. When they look at places, if it doesn't have LOS, they move on to another apartment in the complex or go look at another complex. Knowing you had a commitment, this could have been done.

Again, DirecTV will probably drop the whole thing just to maintain good customer relations, but contractually, they aren't required to, so if they do, realize that they are giving you a "gift" that other subscribers have to pay for. They likely lost money giving you the service, as you haven't kept it long enough for them to recover their costs of getting it to you. Those costs get passed on to everyone else.

Just something to think about.


Knowing I had a commitment, this is what was done. Every apartment complex I looked at, I called to make sure they allowed satellite dishes (even though they can't prohibit them) and made sure they had apartments that faced the southern sky. I got an apartment just like that, got the renter's insurance that the management required and set up the mover's connection. Once they come out and see that their is no LOS, I'm sure as hell not going to switch apartments. I get that I was under a commitment, which is why I tried everything to honor it. I didn't want to cancel Directv...I very much enjoyed it. But that commitment works both ways and with this logic, the bottomline is that it comes back to Directv prohibiting their customers from moving. I don't see how their is any legal grounds for that, unless they could somehow prove that the customer specifically decided to move to a place with no LOS simply to get out of their contract. That seems a little contrived to me. People don't just up and move because they want a different television provider.

And I really don't see how Directv is losing any money. They got all of their equipment back, which they will test and then send right back out to another customer. The dish I had at the original home is still there because that's how all satellite companies work...that's free advertisement for them and when someone calls to set up installation they are using that dish. Directv is costing themselves more money simply by paying all of these people who are dealing with customers like me, trying to get $378.

#20 ONLINE   veryoldschool

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Posted 13 November 2008 - 11:39 AM

Knowing I had a commitment, this is what was done. Every apartment complex I looked at, I called to make sure they allowed satellite dishes (even though they can't prohibit them) and made sure they had apartments that faced the southern sky. I got an apartment just like that, got the renter's insurance that the management required and set up the mover's connection. Once they come out and see that their is no LOS, I'm sure as hell not going to switch apartments. I get that I was under a commitment, which is why I tried everything to honor it. I didn't want to cancel Directv...I very much enjoyed it. But that commitment works both ways and with this logic, the bottomline is that it comes back to Directv prohibiting their customers from moving. I don't see how their is any legal grounds for that, unless they could somehow prove that the customer specifically decided to move to a place with no LOS simply to get out of their contract. That seems a little contrived to me. People don't just up and move because they want a different television provider.

And I really don't see how Directv is losing any money. They got all of their equipment back, which they will test and then send right back out to another customer. The dish I had at the original home is still there because that's how all satellite companies work...that's free advertisement for them and when someone calls to set up installation they are using that dish. Directv is costing themselves more money simply by paying all of these people who are dealing with customers like me, trying to get $378.

Send the email. You have taken "reasonable steps" to keep their service. I think if you follow through, you'll find your problem resolved fairly.
The CSRs simply don't have the "power" [maybe will] in come cases. As with many companies, once you get to the person with "the computer key" that works on the system, things get resolved as they should.
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