Beware of “free” offers from DirecTV

DirecTV promises Glenn Brasch a “free” baseball package. Then it charges him, and when he tries to cancel, it hits him with an early termination fee. Is there any way to untangle this mess?

Question: I recently contacted DirecTV’s customer service about a problem I was having. I had a conversation with a representative, who reviewed my account and offered me a “free” football package.

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I have no interest in football, but am a baseball fan, and asked her if I could trade. She said I could, and she asked me to call back in a few months to have the baseball added. She told me it would be in my customer notes. She also told me I had an old DVR and she could upgrade my unit for “free.”

I agreed but emphatically stated I did not want to be on another contract and she said I would not be “as long as you maintain your base protection plan.”

Some time later I called back with a question and, while talking to the rep, asked about the baseball notes.I was told they were still in the file, and to call back in a few months. But in later conversations, I was told there were no such notes.

I was charged for a month’s installment of baseball. I finally gave up in frustration and decided to cancel my contract. I was charged an early termination fee. Can you help me persuade DirecTV to do what it promised? — Glenn Brasch, Tucson, Ariz.

Answer: DirecTV should have done what its representative promised — no more, no less. Companies don’t just keep notes of their conversations; they also record the call center conversations. DirecTV should have had a record of your call.

It looks as if most of your interactions with DirecTV happened by phone. That put you at a disadvantage, since you couldn’t prove a representative made the promises you claim. Sorry to go off on a tangent, but if a company records you, it should be required to provide you with that recording so that both sides know what was said.

Your next step was to create a paper trail, which you did. You sent a brief, polite email to DirecTV’s customer service executives listed on my site, and you copied me.

Of course, I stood ready to help. But when you explained your problem to the managers, that did the trick. Within two hours of sending your email, you received a response from the office of the president, and $190 was credited to your account. And on a Sunday, no less.

I love a happy ending.

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