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Better Business Bureau ®
Start With Trust®
Dayton and the Miami Valley
BBB Complaints About Satellite TV Reveal Common Customer Grievances Over Agreement Terms
August 10, 2010

DAYTON, OHIO, August 3, 2010 - In the past three years, more than 53,000 customers have complained to your Better Business Bureau about satellite TV providers, with 39,000 of those complaints filed against DirecTV and 13,000 filed against Dish Network. Many complaints stem from fees and terms outlined in customer agreements. If you’re planning to switch to satellite TV, your BBB recommends reading the fine print closely.

According to company reports, DirecTV has more than 18 million customers in the US and Dish Network has more than 14 million. The complex policies and fees sometimes unique to satellite service has led many customers to complain to your BBB about the contractual obligations outlined—but often overlooked—in the fine print of their agreements.

“Many complaints to your BBB about satellite providers stem from steep cancellation fees,” said John North, BBB president and CEO. “If customers aren’t satisfied with their service or can’t afford the cost after the introductory period, it isn’t that easy to cancel because early termination fees can run into the hundreds of dollars.”

Below are examples of common complaints your BBB receives about satellite TV providers:

· Early termination fees – Complainants report paying cancellation fees mounting to more than $600. Commonly, customers felt companies didn’t provide services promised and they shouldn’t have to pay to cancel services they weren’t happy with or didn’t receive. In some cases, customers claim they weren’t aware of policies or sales reps misrepresented terms.

· Introductory offers – Many promotions will offer lower prices or premium channels for introductory periods, after which customers are charged full prices. Some complainants state their monthly bills increased substantially more than they anticipated. Others claim they were promised gift cards for signing up that never materialized or rebates that couldn’t be redeemed immediately.

· Billing issues – Some complainants state they were charged for services they didn’t order—such as pay-per-view movies—or were charged for services they thought were free. Complainants also cite issues with returning receivers to companies and still being charged. In some cases, unexpected charges were the result of expiring introductory rates or offers.

· Service issues – Complainants have also contacted your BBB over reception quality issues, channel offerings or difficulties in getting equipment repaired.

· Upgrades resulting in contract extensions - Some complainants were upset to learn when they upgraded their service or equipment, it resulted in contract extensions and they were later charged early cancellation fees.

When signing up for satellite TV, your BBB recommends you:

· Get it all in writing – Don’t just take a salesman, installer or customer service representative’s word for it. You might also be speaking with a third-party retailer and the verbal promises may not show up in the final customer agreement with the satellite provider.

· Read the terms and conditions carefully – Pay close attention to the terms on introductory offers, equipment costs and cancellation policy.

· Check every bill closely – The sooner you spot inaccuracies in billing, the better. Even if you have your account set up to automatically charge your credit card or debit your checking account, always review your monthly bill closely for new or unusual charges.

· Mark your calendar – Put important dates down on your calendar, such as when you need to cancel introductory promotions for premium channels and the end of your contract.

· File a complaint with your BBB – Consult the terms you agreed to and if you’re unable to reach an agreement with your satellite provider, file a complaint with your BBB. Both Dish Network and DirecTV consistently respond to complaints and your BBB has been able to help consumers receive refunds in many cases.

Contact your BBB for more information on satellite TV service and providers. Visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.

About Your BBB Serving Dayton and the Miami Valley

Your BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses earning BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. Your BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 126 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring nearly 4 million local and national businesses and charities. Your BBB serving Dayton and the Miami Valley serves Montgomery, Greene, Clark, Darke, Miami, Preble, Shelby and northern Warren counties. Please visit www.bbb.org for more information about your BBB.

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