Santa Monica, CA – Consumer Watchdog issued the following statement regarding today’s announcement of a lawsuit and settlement agreement between the California Attorney General and DIRECTV:
“The lawsuit and settlement agreement announced today by the California Attorney General and DIRECTV – apparently one of a number of such agreements between other state Attorneys General and DIRECTV also announced today – was negotiated in secret; neither Consumer Watchdog nor others who have sued DIRECTV for numerous consumer abuses were aware of the investigation or the settlement negotiations. The Attorney General’s lawsuit was only filed today, at the same time as the proposed judgment affecting the agreement.
“Our initial review of the settlement suggests that it allows DIRECTV to continue charging its illegal cancellation penalties and does not guarantee consumers any monetary remedy – including refunds – which are a crucial component of the class action lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog’s lawyers on September 18, 2008. The claims process proposed by the settlement is confusing and vague and gives DIRECTV far too much control over how consumers’ claims for refunds of illegal overcharges and other improper actions are resolved.
“For these reasons, Consumer Watchdog intends to proceed with its class action lawsuit against DIRECTV, and will take all actions necessary to protect the consumers whose interests are at stake.”
After reviewing numerous complaints from DIRECTV customers throughout the United States, lawyers for Consumer Watchdog sued DIRECTV. The lawsuit challenges DIRECTV’s practice of charging its customers an early cancellation penalty when the customers terminate DIRECTV service before the expiration of what DIRECTV calls the “term commitment” period, typically eighteen to twenty-four months. The early cancellation penalty is charged regardless of the reason for the cancellation – even if DIRECTV could not provide service to the customer. DIRECTV in some cases withdrew the illegal fees from customers’ bank accounts or credit cards without their knowledge or permission, causing consumers’ accounts to be overdrawn, customers’ checks to bounce, over-limit penalties to be assessed and their credit reports to be harmed as a result.
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