Satellite company will pay restitution to consumers, pay $5.9 million to states, and take many measures to avoid unfair or deceptive practices in the future.
DISH Network, L.L.C., one of the nation’s largest providers of satellite broadcast programming, has agreed to resolve a wide array of consumer complaints by establishing a nationwide restitution program for consumers – including submitting complaints to an independent Claims Administrator if consumers are not satisfied with DISH’s offer of resolution.
Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said DISH also agreed with 46 states that it would establish a thorough array of measures and monitoring to avoid unfair and deceptive practices henceforth. And DISH will pay $5.9 million to the 46 states, including $125,000 to Iowa, for costs of investigation. [Go to "AVC" agreement.]
“We’ve had 196 written complaints in Iowa since 2004 about DISH Network,” Miller said. “TV satellite service in general has been one of our top complaint categories in recent years.”
The states had alleged a wide array of unfair and deceptive practices by DISH Network and its third-party retailers.
The states alleged that DISH Network: Refused to accept responsibility for misconduct by its third-party retailers and installers; violated do-not-call rules; failed to disclose all key terms and conditions of their customer agreements; did not disclose that purchased or leased equipment was previously used and/or refurbished; charged customer credit cards and debited bank accounts without providing adequate notice and obtaining appropriate authorization; and committed other violations. The company denied any wrongdoing.
The agreement between DISH Network and the states (called an “Assurance of Voluntary Compliance,” or AVC) says DISH “shall not commit any unfair or deceptive trade practices.” The AVC contains fifteen pages of details about how the company must avoid misrepresentations, must clearly disclose all material terms, must clearly disclose any limitations on programming (such as unavailability of local channels or sports programming), must clearly disclose any termination or cancellation policies, must not violate Do Not Call requirements, must handle complaints rapidly and effectively, and must adhere to many other requirements.
“The agreement provides a strong and fair system for handling past complaints, and for avoiding consumer problems in the future,” Miller said.
DISH Network, L.L.C. is based in Englewood, Colorado. States participating in the settlement are: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, NY, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, and WY.
Consumer restitution information:
Under the AVC agreed-to by DISH and the 46 states, DISH will “pay restitution and/or other appropriate relief to consumers who have Eligible Complaints.” Eligible complaints essentially are unresolved complaints already received since January 1, 2004, or new complaints received over the next 150 days concerning conduct by DISH over the last two years. (DISH also agreed to detailed terms for handling future complaints.)
DISH must resolve each “Eligible Complaint” by giving the consumer the option of either accepting DISH’s offer of restitution or other relief, or submitting the complaint to a neutral, third-party Claims Administrator to resolve the complaint. DISH will pay all costs for the Claims Administrator and complaint-resolution program (which is spelled-out in detail in the AVC) – but the selection of the Claims Administrator is subject to the approval of the state Attorneys General.
(Consumers will hear directly from DISH Network if they filed a complaint after Jan. 1, 2004, through July 16, 2009, if their complaint hasn’t been resolved already. See more specific details on the restitution program and “Eligible Complaints” in the AVC, page 25.)
Questions or complaints regarding the refund process can be addressed to: DISH Network, L.L.C., Dispute Resolution Team, P.O. Box 9040, Littleton, CO 80120, or by e-mail at CEO@dishnetwork.com.
Consumers also may contact the Consumer Protection Division, Iowa Attorney General’s Office, 1305 East Walnut St., Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 888-777-4590 toll-free, or 515-281-5926 in Des Moines. The web site is www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.
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