Md. Reaches Settlement with DirecTV Over Marketing, Billing Practices

Company Agrees to Change its Practices and Pay Restitution to Consumers

BALTIMORE (December 15, 2010) — Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has entered into a settlement with DirecTV, Inc. concerning its marketing and billing practices. Under the settlement, DirecTV will provide consumers with clearer and more complete information when they purchase DirecTV’s services. The settlement also requires DirecTV to change its practices concerning electronic debiting of consumers’ bank accounts and makes it easier for consumers to cancel their programming agreements if they experience difficulties receiving DirecTV programming. The settlement will also prevent consumers from inadvertently extending their contracts by accepting a promotion or new equipment. DirecTV also agreed to require its third-party retailers and installers to follow the terms of the settlement.

“I am pleased that DirecTV has agreed to change its practices so that consumers will be more informed when they purchase DirecTV’s services,” said Attorney General Gansler. “Consumers need to know what they are agreeing to purchase and how much it will cost before they are asked to sign any contracts.”

The settlement resolves allegations that DirecTV:

— failed to adequately disclose all of the material terms of its contracts to consumers before they were required to commit to long-term programming agreements;

— extended consumer contracts without approval or adequate disclosure;

— misled consumers regarding the availability of local channels and the terms and conditions of sports packages;

— misled consumers regarding “cash back” offers and free offers;

— failed to adequately disclose cancellation fees and practices;

— charged consumers’ credit cards and debited bank accounts without providing adequate notice and obtaining appropriate authorization; and,

— refused to accept responsibility for the misconduct of its third-party retailers and installers.

DirecTV denied any wrongdoing but agreed to take measures to resolve the above allegations and to pay the states that joined the settlement $13.25 million. Maryland’s share of the settlement is $185,000. DirecTV also agreed to pay restitution to consumers who have complaints concerning DirecTV’s advertising and billing practices since January 1, 2007. Consumers who have either already filed complaints with the Attorney General’s Office regarding DirecTV’s advertising or billing practices, or who file such complaints before June 10, 2011, may be eligible to receive restitution. Consumers who wish to file complaints concerning DirecTV may do so by either writing to the Attorney General’s Office at 200 St. Paul Place, 16th Floor, Baltimore, MD 21202, Attn: DirecTV claims, or filing complaints online

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming and the District of Columbia joined the settlement.

Source: Office of Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

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