The Consumer Protection Division with Attorney General Gary Kingâ€™s office announced Wednesday that New Mexico is among 49 states and the District of Columbia named in a $13.25 million settlement with satellite giant DIRECTV over deceptive advertising allegations.Â New Mexico will be allotted $185,000.
Since Jan. 1, 2007, the attorney generalâ€™s office CPD has received 262 complaints.Â According to a statement released by the attorney generalâ€™s office, common complaints include â€œservice price is two to three times higher than advertised price; monthly credits have to be accessed online in order for consumers to receive discounts of any kind; consumers in rural New Mexico claim they are unable to get specific channels or [auth] services that were advertised and purchased; and cancellation procedure is not what was agreed upon by consumer.â€
The settlement, announced Tuesday, will require DIRECTV to â€œclearly disclose all material terms to consumers; replace defective leased equipment at no cost except shipping fees; will not require the consumer to enter into an additional contract when simply replacing defective equipment; clearly disclose when a consumer is entering into a contract; clearly notify consumers before a consumer is obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package; not misrepresent availability of sports programming; not represent that a consumer receive â€˜cash backâ€™ if the consumer would actually get a â€˜bill credit;â€™ and clearly notify consumers they will be charged a cancellation or equipment fee at least 10 days before charging the fee.â€
In a statement released Tuesday by DIRECTV, the company seemed satisfied with the terms and conditions of the settlement.
â€œDIRECTV has worked hand-in-hand with the Attorneys General to formalize many of the customer improvements we have made over the past few years and are pleased to have come to this agreement,â€ said Mike White, chairman, president and CEO of DIRECTV.Â â€œDIRECTV is committed to always operating with the highest standards of integrity and will move forward with continued dedication to providing the best video experience possible for our customers.â€
Those who qualify for the settlement include customers who forwarded their unresolved complaints to DIRECTV or the New Mexico attorney generalâ€™s office â€œinvolving conduct addressed in the settlement occurring after Jan. 1, 2007.â€
In addition â€œto be considered for the restitution program, consumers must file a complaint with DIRECTV or the New Mexico attorney generalâ€™s office by June 9, 2011.â€
Customers who cannot resolve their complaints with DIRECTV will be redirected to a claims administrator, who will work as a mediator between customers and DIRECTV after a formal complaint form is filled out. Forms will be provided to customers by mail.