DirecTV,Inc. is named in a consumer class action complaint

Discussion in 'DIRECTV General Discussion' started by Steve615, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. mhrusovsky

    mhrusovsky Cool Member

    Jan 10, 2008
    For what it's worth, I am not a fan of the ETF that as a consumer I am faced with from not only Satelite, but many other companies, such as cell service.

    I understand completely that there are times when new equipment's high costs are being heavily subsidised by the company. I believe, someone mentioned a $450 receive being 'sold' for $199, with a two year commitment.

    Yet, what about the case when you're not using 'cutting edge' equipment. Is it fair to believe that a D10 Receiver, for example, that's selling for 50 bucks really costs more than 50 bucks and requires a 2 year commitment?

    The same may also be said with Cell Phones. I can finally say after 8 years, I am out of any type of 'contract' with my cellular provider. I recently looked at replace my phone, with something modest, i.e. just a basic phone since I already have a smartphone through work, and was shocked to find out that I'd have to agree to another two year commitment.

    If anything, I just wish this lawsuit brings out some sort of 'sliding scale' of ETF's. So, if you're two months away from the end of your term, your charged a percentage, instead of the flat fee of $300 or so.

    But, that's just my two cents....
  2. DogLover

    DogLover Hall Of Fame

    Mar 18, 2007
    Isn't DirecTV's ETF already prorated based on the number of month left?
  3. Doug Brott

    Doug Brott Lifetime Achiever DBSTalk Club

    Jul 12, 2006
    Los Angeles
    Yes it is prorated by month .. so the closer to the end of the contract period, the lower the ETF.
  4. Kheldar

    Kheldar Icon

    Sep 5, 2004
    With D* that already happens.

    D*'s Lease Agreement:
    That ends up being $20 per month remaining on the commitment.
  5. DarinC

    DarinC Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2004
    Your comment had to do with the usability of cable DVRs. Regardless of what your opinion of them may be, that doesn't necessarily mean there is significant cost differences between cable DVRs and satellite DVRs. Relative to what we spend for just one month of service, I would expect the cost differences between two different DVRs to be fairly small. I also don't see the logic about the cost of the equipment... for one, it doesn't cost them $450 to build a DVR. Two: we don't keep it. They take it back at the end. So we aren't "getting" anything. Just like with cable. Except they don't charge an upfront lease fee either.

    This is true. But if the truck roll is what's causing them heartburn, they could offer self-installs for no committment, or a committment for a new install. Self installs were the primary method of getting DirecTV back when I got it. Did cable have committments when they first started running cable?

    No, I meant DirecTV. The boxes were owned, but now they are (primarily) leased. They can take them back and give them to the next customer. And as evidenced by their "mover's connection" program, they are more than happy to leave the dish where it is, in hopes that it makes satellite more attractive for the next potential customer.

    I've never seen any that do this for straight video service, which is what we're talking about here. If I'm not mistaken, that committment is when taking advantage of their promo pricing to get video+phone+internet for $100/m. DirecTV has the contract even on their regular pricing.
  6. bruinfever

    bruinfever Godfather

    Jul 19, 2007
    Agreed. They will state that they had 85 lawyers working on the case with an accumaltion of 45,000 hours dedicated to the project which will come out to $40 Million. What do you think trial lawyers are stupid? There's a reason trial lawyers have hundreds of lobbyists and are one of the most powerful special interest groups in Washington....They don't get a $40 million in vouchers from DirecTV like the customer who they "are fighting for" will get...They'll get cold, hard, cash...
  7. Herdfan

    Herdfan Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2006
    With cable, if you cancel, either you return the box directly to their location or give it to a tech. All they have to do to put it back in service is to delete any recordings and give it to the next customer.

    It is much more involved with satellite as they have to send you box to send it back in, keep track of it, refurbish it, and then it might be ready to go to another customer. Or worse, it will then only be used as a repacement unit.
  8. DarinC

    DarinC Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2004
    But why does it have to be any different than cable? Why do they have to refurbish it and restrict it for replacement duty, when cable can just recycle theirs to the next customer? Sure, if a new customer specifically WANTS new equipment, I can see charging extra for that.
  9. tcusta00

    tcusta00 Active Member

    Dec 31, 2007
    Oh goody, another class action thread. I thought it was too quiet around here. :lol:
  10. Steve Robertson

    Steve Robertson Hall Of Fame

    Jun 7, 2005
    I know isn't this great what happen to the last class action suit? Did it get thrown out?
  11. rudeney

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    I do not mind the commitment as long as it is equitable, but it’s not. For example, a new subscriber with a full install could easily end up receiving over $1,000 in “freebies”– dish install, multiswitch, cabling, several free or discounted IRD’s, free programming, credits, etc. If add another plug-and-play HD-DVR, I am stuck under the same 2-year commitment with the same ETF’s. Other than a few minutes of CSR’s time to activate the box, D* has not spent a dime on me. Of course one might argue that the $199 I pay for the up-front lease on the HD-DVR doesn’t cover the entire cost of it, but that doesn’t matter because it never becomes mine. If I return it, D* again be able to charge another customer another $199 up-front lease fee for that very receiver.

    The cell phone companies seem to have it right. In return for a commitment, you get a $200-$250 discount on a new phone. If you have more than one phone on your account, then each one carries its own ETF’s. Other than maybe being able to get a few extras if you are along-time high ARPU customer, everyone pretty much gets the same deal. It’s equitable and there are no “lease” issues. Of course the startup-costs for new cell service are negligible compared to the installation required by a DBS system, but still, the commitment and ETF’s are the same concept – covering the revenue lost by letting the customer have lower up-front costs.

    That another thing I do not like about D*’s model. If I “lease” a new receiver for $199, I’m stuck under a two-year commitment *AND* I would owe charge-back fees if I ever fail to return it when required. That makes no sense. In the cell phone world, you agree to the commitment and similar ETF’s, and you get the discounted phone, but it’s yours to keep. In my case, I keep old phones in case someone loses or breaks one. With D*, I can’t do this. Besides that, since there is also an open-market for the sale of new and used cell phones, the price is controlled by that market. Since D* equipment is leased, there is no open market so who knows what the “real” price of the equipment is? D* says an HD-DVR is $199 a san up-front lease fee, but if you fail to return it, the can charge another $400+. Is that box really worth $600? Probably not.

    The bottom line is that I don’t support class-action suits unless the class really has been harmed. I’d say the class should not be people who had new installs. They got a lot of “free” stuff in return for their commitment. There should be a suit for people who were stuck into a new two-year commitment when all they did was add an extra plug-and-play receiver.
  12. HD AV

    HD AV Legend

    Nov 22, 2006
    "Back in the day", in other words, before leasing equipment, we all bought out IR and dish. We only contracted with D* for programming and there was no commitment. It was a monthly service and you paid in advance for the month. Don't pay your bill, no service the next month, plain and simple.
    Now it seems people expect to be "given" their receivers and dish with installation and not have any costs associated except for the programming. I have no problem with the commitment as I got an $800+ piece of equipment (think$ comparison with new Tivo for OTA/cable) for $99.00 and the dish and installation along with that. If I had to pay for the dish and installation, it would have cost me at least $350.00 and my programming fees would have still been the same.
    I darn sure don't want to own my DVR as the technology changes so fast I'm glad D* went to leasing. If this one fails, or needs to be replaced due to new technology/capabilities, then D* replaces it. I still have 2 Sony receivers, both of which I paid over $500 for, that are of no use to me as they are SD and I don't have any SD TVs any more. They are also MPEG2, so if D* ever goes all MPEG4, they are useless period! Since I don't own the DVR, and paid a fraction of it's value, I don't have a problem with D* charging me the difference in cost if I don't return it when service is terminated.
    Don't know how these people will get away with saying they were not informed with the terms of the commitment when every ad, mailing, offer I have ever seen plainly states the terms of the commitment in the fine print. If they can't read English, then they can inquire about the terms of service. I never enter into a contract, or contract for services, without knowing what my obligation might be. Dang, I even read the entire terms of my insurance policies, loan agreements, credit card applications/terms of service, etc. It's only prudent to protect one's own interest. If you don't like the terms then don't enter into an agreement/contract. It's that simple. Inquiring minds want to know. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, well, you get the picture.
  13. DarinC

    DarinC Hall Of Fame

    Aug 31, 2004
    I actually preferred this set-up. And sometimes they would subsidize the cost of the box, and I completely understood the need for a contract if they were subsidizing the cost of a box that ulimately was mine. But it seems now they want the best of both worlds... they charge an upfront fee for the hardware, yet it's not yours. AND they want to charge you more if you don't stay with them. You actually pay again for a box that you are giving back to them. And they try to stick you with a contract renewal any chance they get. There was a point in time where it didn't appear they needed to force people to stay with them.
  14. HD AV

    HD AV Legend

    Nov 22, 2006
    They are not forcing anyone to do anything. It's our choice whether or not to accept or renew service under their terms. Now, I will concede that the terms seem to be applied in a somewhat capricious manner with respect to what a customer changes, dependent upon the CSR one is dealing with, but that's another issue entirely unrelated to the actual terms of service contract agreed upon for your initial commitment.
  15. rudeney

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    The problem is, you didn’t “get” a piece of $800 equipment for $99. What you got was “the use the equipment”. If you ever decide to stop using it, you send it back and D* will “lease” it to someone else for another $99. Unlike a car or other commercial equipment lease, they never lose their investment in the equipment as it does not depreciate with normal use. There is no reason for that to incur a commitment. And the “$800” price tag is dubious. There is no open market to determine the price. They might as well say it costs $8,000.

    [quot2]and the dish and installation along with that. [/quote]

    OK, if you got a dish install. In that case, you did receive something of value that is “yours to keep”. Now I whole-heartedly support a commitment requirement with ETF’s. D* does need to recover the investment they made in that equipment.

    I have to disagree with your logic there. Keep in mind that the up-front lease fees you have already paid apply only to that specific equipment. If D* comes out with some new technology next year, in order to upgrade, you will pay additional up-front lease fees, plus there is no “residual” value in the receiver you have now. At least if it was owned, you could sell your current receiver and recoup some of the initial investment in it. Keep in mind that people are still buying old (very old!) D* receivers. Plenty of people want put one in the kid’s room, spare room, etc.

    That is not correct. D* will not replace it for new capabilities and technologies. Yes, they did upgrade HR10-250’s to HR2x’s because they sunsetted MPEG2 HD, but that was the only time they have done that, and there are no guarantees they would do it again. And many of those were owned, so there was no leasing advantage.

    If a leased receiver fails, there is no officially published policy on replacement. In practice, they have been doing some swaps for $20, or free replacement under the PP. But then again, the PP also replaces owned equipment for free, so there is no leasing advantage here.

    My original equipment was two Sony SAT-A3’s and a dual LNB dish. It cost me somewhere around $800, IIRC. They were still working just fine up until two years ago when I replaced them with DVR’s. I sold them on eBay for about $40 each. Based on the HR10 situation, I’ll bet D* would offer a free or reasonable upgrade to owners of old MPEG2 equipment when they decidedto shift completely to MPEG4.

    I don’t either. My problem is the commitment and ETF’s that come with just using it.

    Did you read the terms of service before signing your D* contract? I’ll bet you didn’t because you’d had to have gone online to do so and you probably didn’t actually sign the contract; you likely made a verbal agreement to a phrase something along the lines of, “Ok, Mr. Customer, this order comes with a 2-year commitment for minimum D* service. Do you agree to that?” You said yes, and all the sudden, you just acknowledged four pages of legalese posted on the website and you also agreed to the fact that those terms can change at any time for any reason and you have no recourse whatsoever.

    The problem is that the corporations these days can’t just give customers a good service at a competitive price. They have to lure customers into traps and suck them dry.
  16. HD AV

    HD AV Legend

    Nov 22, 2006
    As it so happens, I had D* mail me a copy of the customer agreement/terms of service before I made the decision to get the H20 as the equipment I had I owned. I read every word prior to having the dish for the H20 (I also purchased and own) installed and I, once again, did the same prior to getting the HR20 and new Slimline. I knew exactly what I was entering into. Perhaps I'm a dying breed, but I want to know my obligations/liabilities prior to making any decision concerning contracts/services.
    You know what assumptions can do to you.
  17. Jolliec

    Jolliec Legend

    Sep 1, 2006
    Just browse this or any other forum and see how many people are constantly switching services, considering switching services, or looking for the "next deal". Quite often for no good reason.

    I am all for competition, but this activity costs the providers major bucks every year and they must do something to curb the constant flux. So, if you had the chance to come up with a solution, what would it be?

    DirecTV installed my orignal service for free in 3 rooms. I moved twice since then and they installed new dishes at both homes for free, and then upgraded me to MPEG4 HD dish etc for $99. All they asked for was a two year commitment from me. I have no problem with that at all.

    I am sure some feel trapped by these commitments and the possiblity of missing the next new thing, or a new deal coming along. I will admit that I have thought about it many times too. But you know, I really love my DirecTV service, and I am not leaving anytime soon.
  18. rustynails

    rustynails Godfather

    Apr 24, 2008
    When I decided to go with D, I never read or signed a contract. I called D and they told me it would be $99 plus tax and shipping for the HDDVR and the cost of the programing with $18 off a month for one year. When the installer came out, I never signed a contract. D might have said this was a 2 year commitment but I don't remember. Is a verbal acknowledgement good enough for a contract to hold up in a court of law. I don't know! In my case it didn't matter because I needed HD programming and couldn't get it with E due to los.
    I know that D did not pay wholesale prices for their HDDVR's so I can't see the big deal about someone wanting out and retuning the DVR since it is a lease and the customer not owing anything. They are not recouping the losses on the leased equipment. They just turn around and lease it to someone else or it becomes a refurb.
  19. rudeney

    rudeney Hall Of Fame

    May 28, 2007
    Then I assume you read and agreed to section 4. It states that D* can change the terms at any time. You can, of course, refuse to accept the terms, but you have to cancel your service to do that, and that does not get you out of your commitment. IMHO, that right there is reason for a lawsuit. No company should be able to require a commitment to terms that can change and still be able to enforce financial penalties for cancelation. I am all for open markets that let consumers vote with their dollars, but these type contracts are equivalent to the way elections were run in the old “CCCP” .
  20. Newshawk

    Newshawk Hall Of Fame

    Sep 3, 2004
    Not true, rudney. There are at least two other specific ongoing instances I know of where DirecTV will replace old equipment (either leased or owned) with new updated equipment. If you are upgrading to receive LiLs in a market where they come from either the 119 satellite or one of the Ka/Ku satellites, DirecTV will upgrade your equipment to the correct receivers at no charge with no commitment.

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