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Resident exposes issues with fine print on Direct TV contracts

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A Throggs Neck man was in for a surprise when he decided to change TV providers – his contract was being renewed every time he received new equipment for his television, binding him to two more years with the same carrier.

Vincent Avenue resident and retired television engineer John Irving found himself awash in reading fine print when he decided to cancel his subscription to DirecTV and switch to Verizon Fios. He believed that since he had already been with the carrier for more than two years, he had fulfilled his obligation and would not be charged an early termination fee.

He soon found he was wrong. DirecTV renewed Irving’s two-year obligation every time he received new equipment for his television, essentially binding him to a $440 early termination fee if he wanted to get out of his contract.

“I would receive a new cable television box every time there was a problem with the old box, or if we were upgrading to new technology,” Irving said. “This happened at least once a year, so I was constantly tied to a new two-year obligation, and would be forced to pay early termination fees if I canceled my service.”

Irving reached out to Senator Jeff Klein when he couldn’t get his early termination fee removed from his cable bill. It turns out that a lot of consumers in New York State are having issues with the provider.

In March, when Irving contacted Senator Klein’s office, an investigation was launched into his case, and the fee was eliminated.

“DirecTV is leaving too many innocent customers in the dark. The small print on its ads is confusing and misleading. As a supporter of consumer rights and protections, I aim to put an end to these deceptive practices and mandate all satellite and cable companies fully disclose all fee and contract renewal information,” Klein said. “I am not here to tell consumers what’s the better deal. I am here to make sure consumers have all of the information they need when choosing a service.”

According to Klein, the Better Business Bureau recently changed DirecTV’s rating from a C- grade to No Rating, meaning the bureau has received so many complaints, DirecTV’s grade is below F. Nationwide, the BBB received more than 20,000 complaints in the past three years regarding DirecTV early cancellation fees, Klein stated.

Klein and Assemblyman Michael Benedetto have sponsored a bill that would eliminate small print for fees, requiring companies to present early cancellations charges in a straightforward way.

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