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J

New Member

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1 Message

Sun, Oct 24, 2021 5:55 PM

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.  

litzdog911

ACE - Sage

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40.8K Messages

1 m ago

In cases like this it's sometimes helpful to file a BBB complaint and your state Attorney General. Good luck. 

Juniper

ACE - Expert

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14K Messages

1 m ago

Agents cannot as a courtesy waive the ECF. The only time it can be removed is if the service agreement itself was in error, you place a Movers order but tech ends up not being able to do it because of no line of sight issue (marking order as NLOS), or the account owner is deceased.

The question comes down to why there was as service agreement in the first place. A 24 month service agreement is normally for an upgrade of equipment, though there have been promotions in the past where you got a 24 month discount with a service agreement for the same time but those specials have been few an far between since before Covid. If there was such a thing as an equipment upgrade, then ECF would be valid and none of those agents could waive it as they claimed. All agents can do is submit a request, but if not for the earlier reasons mentioned then it gets denied.

Regardless if service agreement is valid or not, this situation was very poorly handled by the multiple calls that never got it fixed or quoted the right answer. For that I would file a BBB complaint as that goes to the corporate level.

New Member

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1 Message

1 m ago

I worked as a store manager for an authorized retailer for 9 1/2 years. Everything can be fixed but you first need to find an employee/manager that actually cares. There is a protocol that has to be followed in order for everything to be fixed properly and alot of times its gotta go up the chains of command in the corporate At&t world. At least probably 5 to 6 different people starting at an employee level. It's crazy and I feel for you and your mother. I loved my job but the last 2 years of my employment with them I been to feel like a number and all the microtype managing coming from above my position began to cause me many issues with my overall well being. At the end I was accused of something I never did wrong which I'm not perfect but at my job I was there to serve the customer and help my employees be the best they could possibly be at what they were hired to do but that still again is not enough. I'm a very strong person and it ended up breaking this strong person hard. But in the end its been over 2 years and it made me stronger than I was before. I wish I could honestly help you but I unfortunately can't no more. Hopefully you can find someone to go above and beyond for your mother and help get this issue resolved. God bless you and have a nice day.

Juniper

ACE - Expert

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14K Messages

1 m ago

DirecTV doesn't have stores themselves. Any physical location is 3rd party. Even AT&T stores are similar. Those 3rd parties can only send orders for new service. To manage an existing account requires calling DirecTV itself.

If there are actual errors, then they can and should be fixed. But if you are charged a valid ECF, then there is nothing to fix as you would have been billed correctly. Any agent promising to waive an ECF as a courtesy at best doesn't understand how it works or at worst is just straight up lying. Either reason still doesn't waive the ECF after the fact.

Now with many agents giving bad expectations, that is why I suggest a BBB complaint. That will send your concerns to the corporate level. Again, do not expect it to waive the ECF if it turns out that it was valid from the start. But if the ECF was originally in error, then hopefully this should be corrected.

It is not a matter of finding an employee/manager that cares. There are still rules to follow for the business. They should be polite and treat others with a basic sense of respect of course. But they are not your friends or family so should not be expected to give courtesy actions out of the "kindness of their hearts". A good employee/manager will of course will work on correcting an actual problem. But they are not allowed to remove a ECF if it is valid.


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