I am a Direct TV subscriber whose contact is up in June. My wife's 86 year old Uncle who had just signed up with Direct TV became ill and can no longer care for himself and his 55 year old Autistic son. Cross county move from PA to Tx so we can care for them, sell their house etc etc. and Direct TV is forcing him to pay his termination fee. I just boxed up the two receivers and sent them back today.
Sure its the contract but there really should be exceptions, I called and the customer service person said that's the way it is.
Frankly it's pretty crappy, he is not capable of making any financial decisions we do all of that for him now but DTV is going to get their $400. This is the company we are doing business with.
First and most important is, I'm sorry for your wife and family. I hope there still can be joy, though it sometimes might be difficult.
Now as I read the original post, he signed up, then became ill. Was he of sound mind when he signed up? A small point because...
In my way of thinking this is a case where a vendor makes more hay in the long run by eating the cost and forgiving the ETF. Sure, DIRECTV has every "right" to claim the fees, but that doesn't make it wise.
Balancing some of this out is verification. If every deadbeat knew that to skip the ETF, just claim something outrageous. (Note, I absolutely not, in any way, saying your uncle-in-law is skipping out!)
So what I would expect is the CSR might have to, politely, transfer the case to someone who can do the right things. Or that an advanced script could be created for the front line CSRs.
Now for my nearly fanboy statement. The people I've worked with and talked to are very customer focused. And I believe would find a way to do the right thing. So I also encourage you to send a note to Ellen Filipiak.
My real treasures: 5 Grandchildren - S, D, M, M, C ; 6! Great-Grandtibbers - B, H, J, A, M, C (Plus 1 in the oven!)