Help! My subscription TV bill is $708 instead of $72

By | May 5th, 2016

After Christopher Gomez switches to DirecTV, he receives an unexpected bill. Now what?

Question: I need your help. Earlier this year, I called to disconnect my AT&T U-verse Internet and TV service, since the price was going to almost double. They could not match a competitor’s price for Internet service, but made DirecTV sound great, so I changed my service to DirecTV.

It took almost nine hours to install my service, and they did the order wrong. This ruined my only day off since I couldn’t do my normal errands. They ended up giving me a $265 credit to make up for it after I called several times and talked to a bunch of rude people.

I thought I had discontinued U-verse, but this month, I received a $488 bill for two months of U-verse service — service I was no longer receiving. I’ve called U-verse more than 30 times to get this fixed, but I’m still getting bills.

It gets worse. Instead of billing me $72 a month, DirecTV is billing me $220. They’re charging me full price for everything, including boxes that I was told would be discounted because of their “promotional” pricing.

Help! I’ve been charged $708. They were only supposed to charge $72. — Christopher Gomez, Riverside, Calif.

Answer: Your case is a little complicated. Let me see if I can sort everything out.

AT&T owns both U-verse and DirecTV. Last summer, AT&T completed the acquisition of DirecTV. It looks as if DirecTV was trying to offer you a “better” deal while still trying to keep you in the AT&T fold. Fair enough.

But something went sideways. Maybe U-verse didn’t disconnect your service when it said it would; maybe you didn’t pull the plug correctly. But for whatever reason, your U-verse service wasn’t canceled correctly.

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That wasn’t all. AT&T’s records also suggest that you were “inadvertently” subscribed to a premium sports package, which cost you $359. It also notes that you were incorrectly billed $215 for “the wrong equipment.”

How did this happen? In all likelihood, this was an AT&T issue having to do with the hand-off between U-verse and DirecTV. As I noted, there’s nothing wrong with trying to retain a customer. But making a promise that you’ll get your service for $72 and then charging you $708 — that’s a problem.

I think a brief, polite email to a DirecTV manager might have helped sort this out, but I don’t know for certain. It’s rare to have so many things go wrong with just one case, so I’m not confident they would have cleaned up this mess.

I wouldn’t be too upset with AT&T. Mergers can be messy. And in the end, the only thing that matters is that your bill is fixed.

I contacted AT&T on your behalf. A representative told me the company had already applied a $215 credit for the wrong equipment. It also credited you $359 for the wrong premium TV and $475 for being incorrectly billed for U-verse.

Your next bill from DirecTV should be a far more reasonable $80 before taxes.

  • Mel65

    Holy Overbilling Batman! What a mess. We had DirecTV and switched to Uverse and now our billing is getting ready to slmost double as our promotions are coming to an end, too. Ugh. I’m almost afraid to call or change and upset the applecart after I read stories like this.

  • Or the person on the phone that changed his order…

  • AAGK

    What a mess! This guy may not be out of the woods. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next stmt has some other ridic amt. This is a perf storm of events but I see the provider as the common denominator. When one thing is wrong with our acct, we review it more closely and realize a lot more is wrong.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    That could explain the original setup being wrong but not why the billing is still wrong or why the old service was never cancelled. Either everybody at multiple companies is out to get the LW or there’s some failure to communicate on LW’s part helping cause the problems.

  • I believe the phone rep handled both ATT and Direct TV. The rep would get penalized for a cancelled contract and rewarded for a new sale. It’s possible the rep signed him up for new service without cancelling the old.

  • Peter Varhol

    >>maybe you didn’t pull the plug correctly.

    Chris, this is the part that irks me. Companies have internal procedures that they understand (or not), but those procedures are not there to serve customers. No customer should be put out because they did not follow the company’s procedures that in many cases individual representatives don’t understand. I would very much fault ATT here, because if they want to make it obtuse for their reps, how are customers to know?

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