Question: I have a problem with DirecTV that I’m hoping you can help me with. The building I live in has been sold and all leases have been terminated, including mine. Just a month before, I signed up for DirecTV. I have lived there for five years and intended to remain. So it came as a huge blow to suddenly get that dropped on me.
I have found a new place to live. One of my requirements was being allowed to keep my DirectTV and when I found a place that allowed it, I was happy. I called today to set up a service transfer, only to be informed that I must pay $238 for it.
A representative said because I was moving within the first year of my contract that was the best he could do, and that was discounted from $500. That seems excessive to me.
DirecTV’s advertising makes it seem like you needn’t do anything or pay anything. There is no mention of such a thing when you sign up. I asked if they could waive the fee or break it up over several bills. Nope. Either I pay the moving fee or a $340 cancellation fee.
I am stuck! This is making an already very costly move even more costly and even more stressful. Can you help me? — Heather Amaral, Los Angeles
Answer: I feel your pain. Not only do you have to move, but your TV options appear to be either bad or worse — pay a $238 fee that was poorly disclosed when you signed up for the service or a $340 cancellation fee.
I spent some quality time on the DirecTV site to find out how well the moving fees were disclosed. They’re not, it turns out. Its customer agreement, the contract between you and the company, is altogether vague about your moving costs.
The charge applies if you move within a year, and the reasons for the move don’t matter. If you move, you pay.
I can understand the reason for having such a fee. Installing a system isn’t free to DirecTV, even if it’s for the same customer. DirecTV should be able to cover its expenses. But $500 for a move that you didn’t initiate seems a little high. DirecTV was correct to discount the fee for you, but I’m still troubled by the disclosure. When you had your system installed, a representative told you that moving would “not be a problem” — which left you with the impression that DirecTV would let you take the service with you for free if you had to relocate. That’s not true.
You could have appealed this to someone higher up. Here’s a list of current executives. The email convention is firstname.lastname@example.org.
But before you do, I wanted to give the company a chance to review your case one more time. Had it clearly disclosed the fee, and had this been a voluntary move, I might have let this one go. But I think this one deserved another look.