Beware of “free” offers from DirecTV

DirecTV promises Glenn Brasch a “free” baseball package. Then it charges him, and when he tries to cancel, it hits him with an early termination fee. Is there any way to untangle this mess?

Question: I recently contacted DirecTV’s customer service about a problem I was having. I had a conversation with a representative, who reviewed my account and offered me a “free” football package.

I have no interest in football, but am a baseball fan, and asked her if I could trade. She said I could, and she asked me to call back in a few months to have the baseball added. She told me it would be in my customer notes. She also told me I had an old DVR and she could upgrade my unit for “free.”

I agreed but emphatically stated I did not want to be on another contract and she said I would not be “as long as you maintain your base protection plan.”

Some time later I called back with a question and, while talking to the rep, asked about the baseball notes.I was told they were still in the file, and to call back in a few months. But in later conversations, I was told there were no such notes.

I was charged for a month’s installment of baseball. I finally gave up in frustration and decided to cancel my contract. I was charged an early termination fee. Can you help me persuade DirecTV to do what it promised? — Glenn Brasch, Tucson, Ariz.

Answer: DirecTV should have done what its representative promised — no more, no less. Companies don’t just keep notes of their conversations; they also record the call center conversations. DirecTV should have had a record of your call.

Related story:   Help, my Cardcash gift card is bogus!

It looks as if most of your interactions with DirecTV happened by phone. That put you at a disadvantage, since you couldn’t prove a representative made the promises you claim. Sorry to go off on a tangent, but if a company records you, it should be required to provide you with that recording so that both sides know what was said.

Your next step was to create a paper trail, which you did. You sent a brief, polite email to DirecTV’s customer service executives listed on my site, and you copied me.

Of course, I stood ready to help. But when you explained your problem to the managers, that did the trick. Within two hours of sending your email, you received a response from the office of the president, and $190 was credited to your account. And on a Sunday, no less.

I love a happy ending.


Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

%d bloggers like this:
Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.