Help me get rid of these bogus moving charges, please!

Andresr/Shutterstock
Andresr/Shutterstock
Question: Last year, before I signed up for DirecTV, I called the company to find out its moving policy. I wanted to know if I could transfer my service to a different residence, and how much it would cost. I had my house up for sale so knew I would be moving within the next year.

I had seen a TV advertisement that said “DirectTV moves with you.” I was told by their sales representative that there was no charge to transfer if I signed up for two years; I would just have my satellite dish moved to a new location.

Last April, I moved. But when I called to set up service at my new residence, a DirecTV representative told me that it will cost $230 for the installation.

It would not be an issue if I knew about this ahead of time. I would have just stayed with my previous satellite provider and changed when I moved. I am on Social Security, so I have to plan carefully.

I was told DirectTV does not actually move the satellite dish; they don’t care what you do with it. Instead, they are charging me for a new satellite dish. A senior supervisor told me I can either pay to have my service transferred to a new address or, if I didn’t want to continue service, they can discontinue service and I will have to still pay for the rest of the 24-month agreement, plus a cancellation charge.

I feel their sales staff, website and TV advertising misled me to believe it would not cost me to transfer my service to a new address. The senior supervisor was rude and made a point to tell me DirectTV could do what it wanted and could change policies every month and it would be legal. My contract says nothing about paying to move service.

I would like DirectTV to reimburse me the $230 to cover the moving to a new residence. But beyond that, the moving “deal” should be written clearer in the TV advertisements and online. It should be represented clearer by phone. It is vague, misleading and confusing. Customers have a right to know what they are getting. — Carla Woods, Vinton, Iowa

Answer: You’re right, the mover’s deal you’re referring to is pretty vague about the costs. I have no idea what the representative actually said to you by phone, because neither one of us has a recording. But I’ll betcha DirecTV does.

I note that DirecTV offers a vague but very attractive Customer Promise that makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about my DirecTV account. But the consumer advocate in me says: beware of “customer promises.” Many businesses create them only after they’ve been bad corporate citizens or a court ordered them to do so.

If you tried to find out how much it would cost to move your service, I can see how you might become confused. Here are DirecTV’s terms. No mention of how much it will cost to move, as far as I can tell.

As far as the supervisor’s attitude is concerned, I would interpret them as exasperation, not rudeness. He probably spends most of his day clarifying DirecTV’s vague moving policy.

You could have appealed this to someone higher up. Here’s a list of current executives. The email convention is [email protected]

I agree with you. DirecTV is spinning this in a way that’s highly questionable. It’s advertising a move as an opportunity to save when, in fact, it is helping itself to more of your money. Tsk, tsk.

I contacted DirecTV on your behalf. It knocked $100 off the cost of your move.

Is DirecTV's moving policy adequately disclosed?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Carver Clark Farrow

    I skimmed the various contacts. It is impossible to determine anything from reading that gobblygook. It’s as bad as the airlines contract of carriage. At least those ultimately spell everything out, even if its in 4 pt light grey font. I wonder if the DIRECTV contract is enforceable. I would opine that’s so one sided that’s it borders on unconscionable.

  • backprop

    What IS the “Mover’s Deal” if not a way to move your service for free, while under contract?

    “Your TVs, DIRECTV receivers and remotes must be at your new home during
    the installation. You can leave your dish at your old home. Please make
    sure your TVs are set up where you want them in your home.”

    You’re already taking most of your system: the receivers and remotes. The only thing left is the dish on the roof. That permissive statement in bold sure makes it sound like they’re going to cover the cost of the new dish installation. Otherwise, why not say, “You can install the dish on your new home, or we’ll install a new one for a nominal fee”? According to the story, the Mover’s Deal provides nothing. Zero. No discount. No advantage at all.

    The ridiculous video on the DirecTV site basically makes it sound like you can upgrade your service to a better DVR and get some other add-ons. But none of that requires moving. They are conflating upgrading and moving and neither is very clear.

    This is one case where I don’t think the resolution is enough. She should either get a completely free move, or be let out of the contract.

  • Don Spilky

    Perfect post. Absolutely nothing left to add.

  • EdB

    Talking about contracts, what about that clause they put in about being able to change the terms at anytime yet not letting you out of the contract? I had to deal with DirecTV concerning that issue. They raised a rate and added a new charge but said I was stuck with the contract. How can that be legal? What would prevent them from adding a new monthly charge of $1000 and you not be able to decline it by canceling the contract without an ETF?

  • mbods

    $100??!! I’ve been considering DirecTV when we move, thanks for pointing out their deceptions..

  • Alex

    Someone voted YES? Seriously? Troll. lol. I am a directTV customer, and I have been mostly happy in the 16 months we have had them as a service. I have found that if you get a not nice CS rep, hang up and call back. There are far more nice ones that will go out of their way for you. Another rep might have waived or reduced the fee for the customer. I think mostly because they have vague policies, they can do and do things like that. (and I am a former Time-Warner customer who cannot say enough BAD things about them. We still use them for internet and I wish that there was another option in my small city. They are the PITS.)

  • Deborah Orth

    Wow Mr. Farrow and I believe that you stated (please correct me if I am mistaken) that you are an attorney, and you call their terms gobblygook. How do they get away with this?

  • emanon256

    Deja Vu. Didn’t we have the same story a few weeks ago? I shared all my satellite woes back then, but I am still convinced they are some of the worst companies and finding ways to rip people off. As bad as Comcast is, at least they don’t do this stuff.

  • emanon256

    I always wondered that too. Dish had the same clause, and they completely changed my terms and said in much nicer words, that they could do whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and I was bound to it.

  • EdB

    what is to st
    op them from changing the “term” of the contract from 24 months to say 240 months? There has to be some sort of legal limit as to what can change before it voids the contract. I have always heard it was the material cost of the contract. If they change something within their control and it ends up costing you more money, you can get out of a contract without penalty.

  • emanon256

    Ive always wondered that too. In my case, the contract I had stated in writing, that if I moved due to a job change, and the new location could not be serviced by Dish, that I could get our of my contract with no penalty so long as I returned my equipment. I moved, sent in a letter from my employer showing that my job had been eliminated, and all other supporting documentation I could think of, Dish then sent me boxes to send everything back. And then they denied my termination of service and kept billing me. When I argued, they said that they removed that clause from my contract and pointed me to the other clause stating the terms of my contract can change at any time without notice. I just decided to pay out the monthly fee each month because it was less than the early termination fee, and I called to cancel on my last month. Then they billed me for an additional month after I canceled, and I called and they said that they added an additional month to my contract due to the month where I moved and had no service (Which I was still billed for) or some similar excuse. Same argument, they can change the contract at any time. I refused to pay and they sent me to a collection agency. As I didn’t want to ruin my credit, I paid it. What else could I do there? They have way to much power to ruin peoples credit.

  • Grant Ritchie

    Thanks for the tip about hanging up on a bad CS rep and calling back to get a nicer one. And since one good tip deserves another, here’s one I learned here… if you’re not getting anywhere with the garden variety rep, ask for a Customer Retention rep. The change in attitude is breathtaking. :-)

  • Alice Morgan

    This was the exact same thing that happened to me and that Chris posted up here a few months ago. Their policies are not spelled out properly and the agents give conflicting information. You think everything is fine until the unexpected happens — in my case our building was sold and we were all forced out due to “extensive repairs” needing to be done that would make the building uninhabitable so I had no choice but to move to a new place — and then they hit you with the surprise mega-fee. They really need to be more straight forward about the mover’s deal.

  • Joe

    I had direct once. When I quit, they were promising me all kind of discounts to stay with them. Those discounts would have probably been bogus. Happy I am on strait cable. At least they are stable so far.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Good eye. That’s the term that I found particularly troubling.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Not necessarily. That’s a very fact specific circumstance that is way beyond the scope of what we could discuss here.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If you’re concerned that your credit will take a hit you can pay the amount in controversy, under protest, then sue for its recovery. That protects your credit. Not the most elegant solution, but it works.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    Call me Carver. :)

    The answer is that companies put stuff in contracts knowing that its unenforceable, but 99% of people will abide by it.

    When I was a college student, I was hired by a private tutoring company. At the new teacher orientation they told us point blank that portions of our contract was illegal but they put it in there knowing most people would abide by it just because, and the others would abide by it because the cost of litigation was too much for most people to bear. Needless to say, I quit the next day because I don’t work for unethical folks.

  • DavidYoung2

    I actually had to sue DirectTV when I dumped them for Dish. Long story, but they had a laundry list of charges even though my contract was up. Bottom line – I paid, send a demand letter, then filed suit in small claims. Two weeks later, a ‘resolution’ representative contacted me and offered to settle for half. Told them no. Next day settle for 70%. Told them no. Two days later, said would settle for 85% and kind of begged, saying he ‘had to get something’ because his job isn’t to just cave in, it’s to negotiate a settlement. But at some point you have to ask what your time is worth, so I said OK. Had a settlement contract the next day and a check in a week.

  • Deborah Orth

    Thanks Carver and you can call me Debbie. It is so very refreshing when you meet someone who believes in doing the ethical thing. You really opened my eyes I know that you can’t put something in a contract that would require the other party to perform an illegal act, but to put something in that you know is unenforceable just because you know that most people will just abide by it is just plain wrong. Finally from me and my spouse and our 2 retired racing greyhounds You have a GREY-T day

  • EdB

    So is that clause about being able to change terms and conditions one of those unenforceable items?

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    That clause by itself is not unenforceable, but it’s usually paired with an option for the other party to end the contract without penalty. Failing to include that option would most likely render ineffective.
    You see that on your credit card contract. If they change the terms, e.g. raise the interest rate arbitrarily, you can terminate your account and pay off the balance under the original terms.

  • Cybrsk8r

    I will never deal with DirecTV. I had just moved into a new home when I was approached in my driveway by a salesman. Wouldn’t take no for an answer. I asked him once nicely to get off my property. When he did not obey my order, I pulled my 9mm out of the car. I didn’t point it at him, but I started counting to 10. At that point, he finally accepted the fact that he was not going to make a sale.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    The only time I ever had a salesman refuse to take no for an answer was in Versailles. Some guy (I forget which African country) just refused to take no for an answer. It was the most maddening thing. So, we decided that he didn’t exist and walked away towards the police. He got the message.

  • Sam Varshavchik

    Here’s what you could’ve done. You could’ve simply told the collection agency to go pound sand.

    Nothing would’ve happened to your credit report.

    I always ignore those stupid “we can change the contract at any time” provisions, in these kinds of contracts by adhesion. They’re simply unenforcable, in any way.

    Too many people are afraid of collection agencies, for some unfathomable reasons. There’s absolutely nothing to be afraid of.

    Years ago I also had AT&T Wireless try to charge me for an extra month’s service, after I cancelled. I ignored them. When some clown from a collection agency sent me a letter, I sent him a letter in response, telling him, in a few short paragraphs, why I am disputing the validity of my alleged debt, and what he could do with his letter. Didn’t hear from him again. Looks like they punted me off to a different collection agency, a few months later. My second reply was a bit more stern, advising them that it’s only because I was in a good mood, that particular day, is why I’m also sending a nastygram to the state AG; because they know, or should’ve known, that I disputed the debt, and the original collection agency failed to validate the debt, in accordance to the FCRA. That was the end of this matter.

    Similarly, a while back Dish yanked a channel off, that my dad watched all the time. No break in price. So he cancelled, and promptly switched to cable. Dish tried to charge him a termination fee. Being aware of Dish’s typical shennanigans, we made sure, in advance, that Dish did not have any valid credit card on file for him, so they couldn’t ding his credit card. Dish also tried to harass him, for the termination fee, but didn’t get anywhere either.

  • llandyw

    Walmart and their DTV sales tables.. Wouldn’t take no for an answer. Then I had the unfortunate experience of passing by the same salesperson at the Sams in the city north of me. Told them no, told them about their crappy contract and walked away. I made sure the other people showing interest heard everything I said. They walked away too.

  • EdB

    That’s what I thought. I ran into this problem with DirecTV where they increased one fee and added a completely new on and said because of that clause, I couldn’t terminate without paying the fee. Chris helped me out on that one.

  • Ann

    I looked at everything – the only thing their site says aout moving is that you can move your equipment for free if you QUALIFY for the Movers Deal- but it says NOTHING about what they consider qualifications, except to call a toll free number. And apparently the client did this and was told there would be no charges. There is no place in any of their disclosures that states anything and any fees about a move. This client should file a complaint with the FCC.

    It would have helped if she had written down the name of who she spoke to and then insisted on Direct TV reviewing their tapes of the conversation because we all know they in all likelihood were taped.

    How it works

    Schedule your move today!

    Call 1.888.DTV.MOVE as soon as you know your move-in date and new
    address. Be sure to ask if you’re eligible for the DIRECTV Movers Deal.

  • EdB

    You have to do a lot of digging on the website to find the actual terms. One thing they don’t mention in the quick blurb is that using the mover deal, you sign up to a 2 year contract with them.