Contract Renewal, Early Cancellation Fee, and DIRECTV/AT&T billing
In June 2021, my mother called 888-777-2454 to cancel her DIRECTV service because she has sold her home & was moving into my home. She should have been out of her contract period at this point, having established service at that residence in 2016. During that phone conversation, she was given direction for returning her equipment & told that the Early Cancellation Fee would be waived. When she questioned why a fee would be applied, she was informed that her “Programming Commitment” was extended to 1/29/2023. This was a surprise to her, as she never extended in 2021, as it was already known that she was moving with us. Regardless, she took the word of the customer service rep “Justin”, thinking that was the end of it and returned the equipment.
During this time, we were also trying to establish service at our new residence; it was determined that the dish could not be safely placed by the installer, so our install was cancelled. We had all been prepared to resume DIRECTV service, as both households were early adopters of the service and have no issues with the TV service itself. My parents maintained their loyalty since the 90s - even while they were full TV RV’ers with a portable satellite dish.
In early July, her e-bill from DIRECTV arrived showing $0 due, much to her relief. A few days later, the first bill after disconnect arrived from AT&T-with an entirely different account number. The Early Cancellation Fee was still on the AT&T bill; the balance with AT&T was identical - $380 ECF, less the credit balance owed to her for pre-payment/disconnect. We chatted with “Lila” from AT&T, and she assured us that the charge for the DIRECTV Early Cancellation Fee would be waived per the commitment made by “Justin” in June. She also confirmed that the remaining CREDIT owed to my mother would be sent to her after the credit was applied & the account reviewed.
In early August, another bill arrived from AT&T, now showing the account as past due. Calls were made again, and my mother was transferred to a Retention Department, then to Loyalty Rewards in West Virginia, then told to visit the local AT&T store, and finally advised that a supervisor would call back. Her phone battery died, and there was still no resolution. She put a STOP PAYMENT order on file with her bank, blocking any payments to AT&T, as there was no mechanism to shut down AutoPay at this point.
On September 3, we initiated another chat with AT&T. The representative name “Nancy” facilitated a call with a supervisor, who again assured my mother that the charge would be waived.
She has since received 2 “FINAL NOTICE” letters from AT&T - dated September 24 and October 1. A call to AT&T resulted in a representative saying “I don’t care what anyone at AT&T told you, you owe this money.” Frustrated and offended, my 78 year old mother ended the call.
Finally, in a letter dated October 12, she was advised that her balance had been referred to a collection agency.
Everything about this process has been unprofessional and maddening. As a person who has worked in Accounts Receivable for 30 years, I was appalled by the lack of communication as DIRECTV handed off billing to AT&T, and then to the collection agency. My mom is convinced that your organization is banking on a senior citizen being frustrated & ultimately caving in to these bullying tactics.
I’m hoping SOMEONE can help facilitate resolution to this problem. She should not be charged $380 Early Cancellation Fee, and is actually owed $93.33 in refund. Before escalating this to media and consumer agencies, we decided to see if someone in the forum has a specific contact number to stop collection activity and waive the fee.