Class-action lawsuit against DirecTV to continue


A California-based consumer group which had sued DirecTV over its business practices is not impressed by the settlement the company negotiated with the Attorneys General of California and all 49 other states (plus the District of Columbia). Consumer Watchdog says its class-action lawsuit against the satellite TV company will continue.

“The lawsuit and settlement agreement announced today [12/15] 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,” said a statement from Consumer Watchdog.

“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,” the group said.

The lawsuit filed by Consumer Watchdog over two years ago 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 18-24 months. The early cancellation penalty is charged regardless of the reason for the cancellation, the consumer group charged – 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,” Consumer Watchdog charged.