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

By | June 27th, 2013

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.

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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

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.

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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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