0 comments | Tuesday, October 30, 2007

When shopping for the ideal satellite dish provider, you unquestionably want to look at all the options offered.

Read the contracts of each provider online first! Or better yet, ask them to send you a copy for your review. This is the most important step you need to do before ordering or signing an agreement. The fees involved can quickly add up and cause unwarranted distress and affect your credit profile.

  1. You must have a major credit or debit card and provide your social security number and agree to a credit check.
  2. Always clarify the length of your term agreement or special package (normally 18 months). By signing their agreement you are granting them direct access to your bank account information and allowing them to withdraw fees owed without written notice to you or the bank. Your bank cannot stop payment regardless of your dispute. The transaction must process through the bank system first before filing a dispute for resolution which can take anywhere from 7-10 days (or longer). No guarantee that your money will be returned.
  3. Late Fees and Deactivation of Service Fees are applied if your payment is not received in their office within 7-10 BUSINESS days Monday thru Friday. There is no grace period; you will be charged a $25.00 Reconnect Fee and $5.00 late fee to include your monthly balance. The Reconnect Fee must be paid prior to having your service reactivated. There is also an advance fee of one month (punishment?). There is a fee for using any of the suggested bill payment systems with the exception of mailing it in.
  4. Be aware that certain promotions have an optional or mandatory term agreement period. If you cancel your Services prior to the expiration of that optional or mandatory term agreement period you are subject to early termination or cancellation fees of $13.33 (or more depending on which service you select) multiplied by the number months left on the contract (which is withdrawn directly out of your bank account the next business day) to include your balance owed and other administrative fees as they deem necessary.
  5. If you fail to return equipment within 15 (fifteen) days of cancellation they may at their discretion and without notice withdraw the full cost of the remote and DVR plus administrative fees out of your bank account. You are also responsible to ensure that the equipment is returned in good condition (they provide the return receipt at their cost) via UPS. However you pay the pickup fee unless, you drop it off at a UPS store or designated affiliate.

The list of fees does not include taxes or your promotion package:

Additional Outlet Programming Access Fee (monthly, per each tuner after first): $4.99

Network DVR Service Fee (monthly, per Digital Video Recording receiver): $5.98

Equipment Rental Fee (monthly, per leased receiver) $5.00

Late Payment Fee: $5.00

Live Operator Payment Fee:$5.00

Offset Fee (no explanation in contract you sign): $2.00

Overnight Delivery Fee (no explanation in contract you sign): $18.00

Pay-Per-View Automated Fee: $1.00

Pay-Per-View Live Operator Fee: $5.00

Restart Fee: $25.00

Returned Payment Fee: $10.00

Service Access Fee (monthly)(no phone line): $5.00

Smart Card Replacement Fee (not sure what this is): $50.00

Transaction Fee (your payment charge?): $5.00

As you can see these fees are very costly if left unchecked. Upgrading your account also imposes additional non-refundable fees.

Make sure all communications of any issues you have are phoned in. Emails are not a viable tool to communicate any problems (though it's an option in their contract). Write down the representative's name, ID# (if they have one) and the nature of your problem and the time of your call, you will need this information for disputes.

Be advised that the Agreement states, you will allow them to place hold to any and all cancellation fees and unreturned equipment fees to your credit/debit card without notice. And that you authorize them to continue to attempt to collect for those fees owed. You acknowledge by signing the agreement that they will have no liability whatsoever for non-sufficient funds, rejected debit, or other charges incurred by you (bank fees for non-sufficient funds) as a result of such attempts to charge and/or place holds on the credit/debit card. Payment of a cancellation fee shall not relieve you of your obligation to pay all unpaid charges on your account. Meaning they still have access to your account as they DEEM necessary.

Significant Signal Interference Warnings:

The below list will cause the signal to be temporarily lost. The satellite service has no way to monitor your loss of signal and will not reimburse you. You have only 90 days from the date of installation to make your adjustments. However, as noted you will not receive a refund of cancellation fees despite the poor transmission service you have received.

  • The distance and placement of your dish to receiver will directly affect the signal that is delivered.
  • Blockage of buildings and trees
  • Overcast / cloudy sky
  • High winds
  • Rain and heavy rains
  • Snow
  • Sleet
  • Lightning

Be very wary when entering into any agreement that has control over your SSN and Bank account information without fully understanding your liability and the potential fallout should you fail to uphold your end of the agreement.

Lisa T. Spidle, Consumer Advocate


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