Attorney General Hardy Myers today announced that DIRECTV, a provider of audio/video services to thousands of Oregon subscribers via direct broadcast satellites, has entered into a second agreement with the Oregon Department of Justice for alleged inadequate disclosure of consumers' obligations to the company and of company services to be provided. The company signed an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance (AVC) in 1998 with Attorneys General from 31 states. Today's AVC includes Oregon and 21 other states and was filed in Marion County Circuit Court, admitting no law violation.
"Since 1997, our investigators have been monitoring complaints against DIRECTV resulting in warning letters and now two court orders," Myers said. "The complaints covered many allegations but the most numerous and most frustrating concerned the company's disclosure of important facts about services and obligations in "MICE" type that were too small for most people to read."
Oregonians complained of small, unreadable print in advertisements, which investigators found often modified DIRECTV's offers and confused consumers so they were not aware of their monetary obligations to the company until after being locked into a contract.
As part of a $5 million, multi-state settlement, DIRECTV has agreed to pay restitution to eligible consumers with complaints about contract terms, installation problems, difficulties in program activation or reception, or fees charged for canceling service. Those who may be eligible must have filed complaints earlier or by May 11, 2006 with the Oregon Attorney General's office.
Consumers wanting to file a complaint against DIRECTV may call the Attorney General's consumer hotline at (503) 378-4320 (Salem area only), (503) 229-5576 (Portland area only) or toll-free at 1-877-877-9392. Justice is online at www.doj.state.or.us.
As part of the settlement, DIRECTV will pay $100,000 to Oregon Justice for its Consumer Protection and Education Fund.
DIRECTV has agreed to clearly inform customers in its advertisements of the key terms of their obligation in a DIRECTV service or equipment offer. "We do not want Oregon subscribers to be shocked when they get their first bill from DIRECTV," Myers said.
Today's settlement agreement creates new guidelines and requirements for the company to follow including in equipment sales, the company must clearly disclose all key terms and conditions to consumers and in an oral transaction with DIRECTV must send written disclosure within 72 hours. The company also must clearly disclose any key terms that may be imposed by DIRECTV as a result of equipment sold to consumers by a company other than DIRECTV.
In addition, the company must attempt to resolve installation issues for customers including those involving independent installers. In the area of collections, the company is required to notify its collection agencies to correct any negative entries made upon past credit profiles of certain complaining consumers.
Jan Margosian, (503) 947-4333 (media line only) firstname.lastname@example.org