For Release: December 15, 2010
For media inquiries only, contact: Brian J. Gottstein
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Attorney General Cuccinelli announces
- Company settles allegations of deceptive advertising, offers refunds -
RICHMOND (December 15, 2010) – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced today that DIRECTV has settled allegations of deceptive advertising by agreeing to change its marketing practices and offer refunds to consumers. The settlement is with all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The states received complaints that DIRECTV:
- did not clearly disclose to consumers the prices they would be charged and the commitment terms that would be required to keep DIRECTV services;
- did not clearly disclose to consumers limitations on getting certain pricing for services;
- enrolled consumers in additional contracts or contract terms without clearly disclosing the terms;
- enrolled consumers in additional contracts when replacing defective equipment;
- did not clearly disclose to consumers that a seasonal sports package would automatically renew; and
- offered cash back to consumers when consumers would actually receive bill credits.
In addition to a $13.25 million settlement with the states, DIRECTV also agreed to pay restitution to consumers and to alter its business practices in the future. The settlement requires DIRECTV to:
- clearly disclose all material terms to consumers;
- replace leased equipment that is defective at no cost, except for shipping;
- not require consumers to enter into additional contracts when simply replacing defective equipment;
- clearly disclose when a consumer is entering into a contract;
- clearly notify consumers before they are obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package;
- clearly disclose all limitations on the availability of local channels;
- not misrepresent the availability of sports programming;
- not represent that a consumer will get cash back if the consumer will actually get a bill credit; and
- clearly notify consumers that they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee.
Unresolved complaints can be sent to DIRECTV or the Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs by June 9, 2011. Such complaints are eligible for the restitution program if they involve conduct addressed in the settlement and if that conduct occurred after January 1, 2007.
DIRECTV will attempt to resolve the complaints with consumers. If the complaint cannot be resolved, DIRECTV will inform the consumer that the complaint can be resolved via a claims administrator and will mail a claim form to the consumer.
Virginia also received $185,000 to be used for the Office of the Attorney General’s Regulatory, Consumer Advocacy, Litigation, and Enforcement Revolving Trust Fund.
A copy of this news release may be found on the website of the Attorney General of Virginia at http://www.vaag.com/Media and News Releases/News_Releases/index.html.