(WXYZ) - When Crystal Rombke first got her DirectTV service, she loved it. But she started having problems last year.
"Our HD is constantly going out, where we don't have service," she says.
She asked DirectTV for a new receiver, hoping it would fix the problem, but it didn't. So she asked if she could be let out of her contract. That's when she got the bad news. By swapping out her receiver, she was told it restarted her contract. So now she was facing a hefty termination fee. DirectTV's policy, $20 a month for every month you're canceling early.
"We've had more than 53,000 dissatisfied customers in the Satellite TV industry," says Melanie Duquesnel from the Better Business Bureau.
In the last three years, more than 39,000 have complained to the BBB about "DirectTV and some 13,000 complaints have been filed against Dish Network. Many complaints stem from fees and terms spelled out in the contract in the fine print we don't always read. Early termination fees are the source of many complaints.
"If you decide you don't like their service, you're not getting the reception you want, you don't like the service and you want to terminate, you better be aware of what fees you're going to be assessed," Duquesnel says.
Last Decemeber Washington state's Attorney General filed a lawsuit against DirectTV for unfair sales practices, claiming the contracts "are so one-sided as to grossly favor defendants."
While the number of complaints the BBB has on the companies represents far less than one percent of all satellite subscribers, the message is clear.
"Do not take a contract and look it over in three seconds. Take the time... I will tell you," Duquesnel says, "unless you've had someone else look at it, I would not execute a contract on the spot."
Action News talked to a representative from DirectTv, who tells us a subscriber's contract only restarts if they upgrade their upgrade their equipment. He wouldn't comment on the lawsuit, but as for the BBB complainst, the spokesman said... "The overwhelming majority of our more than 18.6 million customers are happy with our service. As of with any other service that deals with a large group of customers, we don't always get it right all the time. Providing excellent customer service is something we've always prided ourselves on , so we are workin to fix these issues so we can regain the higher rating we've had in the past."
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