Think you’re a victim of DirecTV false advertising? You may have legal options.
Problem with the latest ads? Did you buy something from DirecTV because of an ad but now you want to report DirecTV for false advertising because they misled you. We explain the laws that govern false advertising, how to report it, and what to do for compensation.
False advertising, sometimes called misleading advertising, is any instance where a company promotes a product or a service that’s either misleading or false.
There are rules that can help you spot instances of false advertising, report it, and laws that can go so far as to penalize companies. The rules can be found in a collection of state and federal consumer protection laws. Most laws are governed by The Federal Trade Commission Act, which established the FTC in 1914. The FTC has jurisdiction to respond to complaints about false advertising from individuals or businesses. Some examples of the rules outlined in that section are any instances where information is incorrect, fraudulent, or misleading, intentionally or not.
Note: No one actually needs to be misled for a court to find that an advertisement is misleading.
The FTC categorizes a lot of different types of false advertising and that can cover a range of things like hidden fees, failing to disclose a potential health problem, or unscientific claims. Unscientific claims are situations where a company makes a scientific claim that can’t be backed up by evidence. One silly example is the famous slogan from Red Bull and while nobody consumed a Red Bull thinking that it would literally give them wings, Red Bull spent 13 million dollars in a class action lawsuit because there was no scientific evidence for that statement.
This might be a silly example but there are plenty of more nefarious situations where a company might make a scientific claim about the health benefits of their product without any evidence to back it up.
Customers on the DirecTV/AT&T community forum have a lot to say about their promotions, specifically those they receive in the mail. One customer noted:
“I received this promo in the mail right before Christmas and it was advertising prices lower than I paid for Dish Network (or so I thought).
I called in and placed the order. They verbally promised me everything on this promo including the free Genie HD DVR upgrade. Then they ask if you have access to email to electronically sign the contract and let you know that the contract will reflect everything they just discussed with you and to go ahead and sign so that they can get your service activated.
Fast forward 3 weeks later to the day the bill arrives….
“Well ma’am the rep that activated your account did notate to waive the DVR fee but because they did not include it on the electronic contract you signed we can not do anything about it. You will have to pay for the Genie at $399.99 or your service will not be restored.” So no matter what they tell you over the phone or even what these mail outs say or even what the notations on the account say, they will tell you one thing and charge you another. False advertising and lying at it’s best. Then the rep had the nerve to say that maybe this is a false promo card…why do I have an AT&T account then? Why do u have my personal info? I switched from Dish Network to be scammed by this company. I want everyone to beware. I’m starting with the local news & social media. They need to be held accountable for what they do to people.”
The FTC charged DirecTV with fraud, stating their 12-month discount package misled customers. The satellite package says customers can sign up for as little as $19.95 per month, but they don’t explain that upon sign up, customers are locked in for 2 years, and that during the second year price jumps, nearly doubles. Then, when customers try to cancel, they have to pay up to $480 in fines. The FTC also charged the company with failing to make clear that they have to proactively cancel a “free” premium package with channels like HBO and Showtime which are given to new customers “for free” for the first 3 months. Legally, companies have to tell customers when a 6 month subscription or longer renews, giving them a chance to cancel it, but 3 months flies below the radar.
In one case, the FTC sought refunds for customers, to the tune of $4 billion, for DirecTV tricking customers with ads that deceived them about the price of service or the length of contracts. This is clearly not the first time the FTC has gone after DirecTV for this, but unfortunately the judge on the case granted only part of the recovery, so not everyone got their money back.
If you see false advertising an action you can report it. Firstly, remember the courts do not require that anyone actually be affected by the false advertising in order to convict a company of doing it.
It is up to consumers like you to submit reports whenever false advertising happens, whether it is done by DirecTV or any other company, so that the FTC can investigate and take action. They might issue illegal cease-and-desist letter forcing the company to change the marketing they are using, or fine them. The first step is to submit a consumer complaint to the FTC. You can also submit a complaint to TruthinAdvertising.org where it will go public.
However, if you have been wronged by false advertising, the rules that govern how you can get recourse will depend on your state’s laws related to Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices.
However, if you need compensation because you lost money as a result of DirecTV false advertising, reporting them to the FTC is a great first step but it won’t necessarily get you your money back. But one thing you can do if customer service isn’t helping either is to use consumer arbitration.
Consumer arbitration is usually faster and less expensive than going to court but it can still be a bit confusing because it is a legal process with a fair amount of paperwork. That’s where we can help. FairShake helps you navigate the consumer arbitration process, from filing your claim to getting the resolution you deserve.
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