Satellite TV offers alternative to cable


By Edna Ward 

Opelika Observer


DIRECTV and DISH are two of the largest satellite providers of television, Internet and phone services.

One major difference in satellite services compared to cable companies is that contracts are required – service contracts and television service will be addressed here.

DIRECTV’s Company Profile from the official website shows corporate offices are in El Segundo, Calif, New York and Denver, Colo., with broadcast centers in Castle Rock, Colo., Long Beach, Calif., and Marina DelRey, Calif.

Fine print on recent advertisements for DIRECTV states, “All DIRECTV offers require 24-month agreement. New approved customers only. Conditions Apply.  See details inside.”  On the cover page, “Double Savings Event – Only DIRECTV gives you 2 years of savings with a FREE Genie TM upgrade! – Act now! $24.99 month for 12 months SELECT TM package with 24-mo agreement. Does not qualify for NFL Offer.”

Over on the inside page: “Get over 130 channels – plus, act now to get: FREE Pro Install of a DIRECTV system in up to 4 rooms; Free for 3 months: HBO, Starz, Showtime Cinemax – over $140 value – Only on DIRECTV NFL Sunday Ticket, Every Game. Every Sunday. Included at no extra charge. 2014 out-of-market games only.  With CHOICE TM Package or above.”

At the bottom of the same page, “All programming and pricing subject to change at any time. Bill Credit/programming offer: if by the end of promotional Price Period(s) customer does not contact DIRECTV to change service then all services will automatically continue at the then-prevailing rates.

“… 24-Month Agreement: Early cancellation will result in a fee of $20/month for each remaining month.”

The remaining notations include various charges for equipment and or services including the following:

“Non Activation charge of $150 per receiver may apply.  All Equipment is leased (Excluding Geniego Device) and must be returned to DIRECTV upon cancellation, or unreturned equipment fees apply.”

DISH – DISH Network LLC has headquarters in Englewood, Colo.

One recent advertisement for TV prices offers $19.99 monthly for 12 months – a “Limited Time Offer.  (Regular TV price $32.99/mo.) Not eligible with DISHNET bundle Pricing.  Hopper or IPad mini offer.

“HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Blockbuster @ Home, a $165 value is free for 3 months. Offer is subject to change based on premium channel availability. Monthly DVR and receiver fees apply.  …  All offers require a 24-month commitment and credit qualification.  – And Free professional Installation. …”

These offers were available from May 15, 2014, through June 12, 2014.

Further in the fine print: “Activation fee may apply … After promotional period, then-current everyday monthly price applies and is subject to change.”

A contract consists of an offer and an acceptance between consenting parties; there may be other considerations, too, including age. Focusing on the offer and acceptance, at the end of the three-month promotional period – if a customer decides not to continue the premium channels of HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, Starz, Blockbuster@ Home and etc., then it would be the customer’s responsibility to notify the satellite provider those services are no longer wanted and have them discontinued. Failure to give that cancellation notice would then obligate the customer to the full charges until they are cancelled.

There is no reason to believe the satellite companies will not provide services offered in their promotions.  The problems are understanding the terms of the contracts and the willingness of the customer to pay for the services after the free promotion period ends and the responsibility to cancel the services if not wanted. If the customer is happy with the services and is willing to pay for them, then all is well.

A call to DIRECTV and DISH requested the following information:  If your services were ordered today under the promotions offered now, what would the total bill be for the first three months; for months four through 12; and for months 13 through 24?

Answers provided by DISH were as follows:

On the promotion of $19.99 billing would have been for 12 months at that rate and then converting to $32.99 for months 13 though 24.  If the customer wanted to continue the free promotion on the premium channels, after three months the bill would increase an additional $55 monthly.  The premium channels could be disconnected on request anytime after the three months free, and payment would be due for only the extra time those services were provided.

Multiple attempts to procure the same information from DIRECTV were not answered by DIRECTV personnel.