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Dish Network, Extortion?


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  • Dish Network, Extortion?

    First I would like to say hello to all the old regs if they still recognize me. It's been a while but I'm still plugging away.

    I am searching for opinions on a situation I have found myself in with a company. Below I have laid out the events as they unfolded. Let me know if I'm waisting my time or is this a just fight to expose an extortion maneauver being used by this company. See you again soon!!

    On January 18, 2001 I signed a one year contract for Dish Network. Up until November 2001 the bills were made timely and there were no problems other than we had decided not to continue service once the 1 year contact expired.

    In December 2001 I was informed that the service was turned off due to late payment and I made a $50 dollar payment reactivating the service in order to fulfill the contract.

    On January 11, 2002 I phoned Dish Network and spoke to a female informing her that I wished to pay any balance owed as the contract was to expire on January 18, 2002. I specifically told her that I wanted her to provide me with the entire amount due so I could put it on my VISA card. She informed me that I owed $130.34 and also stated that once that was paid all I had to do was call in again on January 18, 2002 and inform Dish Network not to renew the contract. I charged the $130.34 on my VISA card and returned all of the equipment in the UPS box provided by Dish Network. Before I hung up the phone with her I asked her again to make sure that I would not be billed for any other charges and she assured me I wouldn't.

    On January 18, 2002 I phoned in to Dish Network and a male, who identified himself as "Dan", answered and stated that he was an "Account Specialist". I informed him that I was calling to notify Dish Network, as instructed to do by the female above, that I did not wish to renew the contract. Dan asked why I did not wish to continue the service and I informed him that we had just decided not to renew for no apparant reason. He irritatingly demanded that I give him an answer other than what I had given him already. He then stated that I owed Dish Network $32.31. I immediately informed him that I had paid the account in full on January 10, 2002 and I briefly explained the conversation that I had with the lady above. Without even listening to what I was saying Dan stated that I either had to pay the $32.31 or he would have to charge me an additional $250 dollars (appx) for breach of contract and HE would turn me in to a collections agency. I informed him that I thought there was a mistake and that the alleged debt was incorrect as I had already made payment in full. After advising him this he said "Goodbye" as if he was going to hang up the phone. I requested a supervisor and he stated "Why do you want to speak to a supervisor?" I told him it was due to his unprofessional behavior and the fact that I felt that the charge on the account was without merit.

    Several minutes later a female who identified herself as Michelle came on the phone and stated that she was a supervisor. I explained to her that I was very upset with how Dan had conducted himself and she apologized and stated that Dan should not be telling people that HE would be turning people in to collections agencies. I further explained the situation about how the $32.31 charge must have been a mistake as I had already spoken to the female on January 10, 2002 and she informed me that there would be no more charges. Michelle stated that I would have to pay the $32.31 and that the female I spoke to on January 10, 2002 had made a mistake. She also stated that if I didn't pay the $32.31 a charge of approximately $250 dollars would be attached to the account for breach of contract. I vehemently disagreed with her and she ultimately stated that she would note the account documenting our conversation.

    I informed Michelle that I would not make the $32.31 payment as I felt that I had acted in good faith by contacting Dish Network and offering an opportunity to pay up the account in full, which is what was done January 10, 2002 and is reflected on my Visa account. Furthermore, I was informed by the female that took my payment on January 10, 2002 that the account was paid in full and no further charges would be owed.

    Later on January 18, 2002 I contacted Dish Network again as I had decided that I would pay the $32.31 in order to prevent Dish Network from damaging my credit without warrant . Then I would proceed by disputing the alleged charges that Dish Network suspiciously tacked on to my account on the day my contract expired. I opted to dispute the $32.31 payment and the manner in which Dish Network collected the payment and attempt to collect reimbursement from Dish Network for the payment, which is the motive behind this letter.

    I sent Dish Network a formal letter, certified, return receipt, disputing the $32.31 that was added to my account and I requested that they reimburse me the $32.31 as I felt it was a form of extortion. What reply did I get? Another bill from Dish Network stating that I now owed them another $20.93 for "adjustments" and "taxes & fees".

    February 26, 2002 5:37 PM - I called 1-800-333-3474 and spoke with a female who identified herself as Representative I.D.# 6WR Donna, I explained to her that I was disputing the $32.31 charge and that while in dispute over that charge I had received another bill on Feb. 25, 2002 reflecting a charge of $20.93 for "adjustments". I requested that she explain the charge. Donna stated that the $20.93 was owed in order to fulfill the contact and to avoid being issued a breach of contact charge $240.00. I explained the entire situation in reference to the dispute I currently had with Dish Network over the $32.31 charge on the day the contract expired and she stated that "someone" had conducted a "review" of the account after I had paid the $32.31 payment and submitted my letter of dispute. Upon this person doing the review of the account they decided that I now owed a $20.93 charge for when service was briefly suspended in Noevember 2001. When asked how they could do that when they had already stated that the account was paid in full on two previous occasions (one of which I am disputing) Donna advised me that she would note the account and didn't offer any response. She then put me on hold at 5:55 PM so she could speak to a supervisor.

    At 6:04 Donna returned and stated that she would tansfer me to her supervisor. At 6:04 PM a female who identified herself as Jean, ID# 3ZG came on the line and explained to me that since I had signed a one year contact with Dish Network I owed any charges billed for when services were turned off regardless of what was I was told by the Dish Network employees in the past and in error according to her. I informed her that I felt this was a form of extortion and that this was an unethical maneauver on behalf of Dish Network. Dish Network steped in and reviewed the account after all my obligations to the account had been fulfilled according to my previous conversations with Dish Network representatives on two occasions. I had acted in good faith to make sure the obligations were met and once they were met Dish Network received my dispute letter and reviewed the account and began billing for misc. charges while threatening me with breach of contract charges of $240.00 as they did previously. I woud venture to say that if I had paid the $20.93 bill I would receive another bill next month for more "adjustments".

    After explaining the situation over and over she stated that she was sorry that her employees had given me incorrect information but the fact is I signed a one year contract and I did owe the money. She stated that she would see what she could do with the $20.93 charge and placed me on hold. She returned shortly and stated that the other line was still on hold and asked me :

    "If the account review would have been in my favor would I expect them to pay me back?" I told her that I would expect that as a matter of customer service they would assure that billing of accounts to their customers was being conducted effiiciently and in a competent manner. I advised her that I took exception to her question as I had been the one acting in good faith to assure that the contract was fulfilled on time while Dish Network has repeatedly shown incompetence in both billing and customer service department and only offered the excuse of "We're sorry but people do make mistakes " for when I was given incorrect information by Dish Network. As reflected above I had been given incorrect information several times. Jean (3ZG) placed me on hold and later advised me that she spoke with someone in Headquarters who stated that they would take care of the $20.93 charge but they would overwrite or superceed any other complaints made by me, namely the $32.31 dispute I currently had with them, if I agreed to allow Dish Network to dismiss the $20.93. Jean stated that the account would be paid in full if I agreed to drop any disputes currently in progress. I informed her that I would not agree to that as I would continue the dispute I already had in progress for the $32.31 charge that I felt was extorted from me. She put me back on hold to speak with Headquarters. She returned shortly and stated that she spoke to Agent Jamie in Corp. Headquerters who agreed to drop the $20.93 charge but also stated that if anyone within Dish Network made any adjustments to the $32.31 charge that I was currently disputing, he would see that there was a $240 breach of contract charge placed on the account and hold me responsible.

    Yes these are small figures out of my pocket but these small figures were forced out of me by threats of much larger figures. My feeling is they have so many customers that will sluff off these small charges when faced with threats of breach of contact charges, which in this case was $240 bucks and a ruined credit rating. For example, If Dish Network had 100,000 customers and 50,000 of the customers were met with the same situation and they all paid the $32. after being extorted, Dish Network would walk away with $1,600,000.00. And that's assuming that only 50% of the customers cave and pay the bill without questioning it's legitimacy.

  • #2
    First, welcome back m*m - long time!

    Second, it sounds like you have made very reasonable attempts to resolve the dispute on your own. I would now take your dispute to both the Better Business Bureau, AND the State Attorney General in your state, and if DN is located elsewhere, in that state as well. Lay it all out like you did here, with dates, names, etc., and they can take it from there. I would also be proactive, and report this dispute to the 3 main Credit Bureaus.

    You may get no resolution, but at least it will all be a matter of record, and that may be useful down the road.

    I just went through a VERY similar situation with EARTHLINK, and have taken all of the above action against them.
    Dave Kiefner
    [i]Die Wahrheit ist eine Perle. Werfen sie nicht vor die S


    • #3
      Have your attorney send them a letter, stating that if they wish to proceed with collection action, then file their suit. It seems to me that you have a fairly strong case and have made all reasonable efforts to resolve the dispute. In all probability, you will prevail.

      Have your attorney crossfile a malicious prosecution suit. Subpoena everybody, naming each of the individuals you have spoken to, and advise them that each and everyone as well as their parent company are now defendants.


      • #4
        Agree with earlier posts-especially State AG. They may not seem like a big help, but they are.

        You are also very much on the right course by the good documentation-don't stop that.
        People have more fun than anybody.


        • #5
          Part of the problem MAY stem from the fact that Dish Network has recently been bought out by DirecTV.
          "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
          -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division


          • #6
            dkiefner: BBB has received a letter in both the Corporate Office State as well as in Texas, my home state. It's currently under review. Also, I've posted it on www.planetfeedback.com, which I found has already uncovered a can of worms within Dish Network by allowing hundreds of others to submit complaints agains them. ( Source: http://www.planetfeedback.com/shared...e-desc,00.html )

            Shooter: As a matter of fact on www.planetfeedback.com Direct T.V. has scored a much higher grade on it's review of services to it's customers as well as customer service. On an A-F grading scale Dish Network scored a D and Direct T.V. scored a C+. I don't think it's Direct T.V. rubbing off on Dish Network.

            I urge any of you that are caught in a similar situation to register with www.planetfeedback.com as they work closly with customers to assure that their voice is heard by the CEO's of most companys.

            My next step is the State Attorney Generals Office.


            • #7
              After reading some of the letters there, I'm convinced more than ever that the only thing that will get their notice is a suit. I'm surprised that somebody hasn't taken them on before.

              I had all kinds of problems with Time-Warner cable, so I dumped them. I've been using Direct TV for a couple of years and have had no problems with them at all.

              But Time-Warner has the only internet cable access in this area, so I had to swallow my pride and sign up for Roadrunner. AOL or RR, either way, TW will get their hooks in you.


              • #8

                I was implying that MAYBE the reason you were getting the 'runaround' was due to the confusion corporate acquisitions sometimes imbode.

                FWIW, I started my satellite usage with COMCAST in 1992. What a HEADACHE. When DirecTV bought their satellite service, things got MUCH better.

                I've had NO problems whatsoever with DirecTV. They went out of their way to provide me with local channel access...even though my zip code wasn't on their list of 'approved for access' cities.
                "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
                -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division


                • #9
                  Shooter: I know what you meant. I was just putting out the factual stats to clarify Dish Networks position with it's former competitor. Thanks for the input!


                  • #10
                    Welcome back m*m!

                    First, I'd call their bluff. One bad entry on your credit report will not seriously hurt your credit AT ALL. Especially assmuing that you have other "on time/over time" payment histories such as a mortgage.

                    IF, and that's a big IF, they do turn it over to third-party collections, you can dispute the entry with the credit beureaus usually with just a letter.

                    They will not just turn it over to third party collections b/c they will lose money. Actually, it will be turned over to in-house collections for quite some time.

                    When they turn it over to third party, they "sell" the debt for literally pennies on the dollar. A third party collection agency will settle it for FAR less than the origianl amount. (They buy the debt for 15% and clear it for 40%, they have made a nice profit.)

                    Instead of third party, they may choose a civil suit, but for this amount of money, it's HIGHLY unlikely. It's not cost effective. It would cost more than that just to file the suit. Instead, they will hound you until it gets to be so much of a headache that you would rather pay.

                    I'd call their bluff. I've done it more than once before and it has never failed me.

                    Next time, tell them to go ahead and file.

                    You may also file suit and ask for a Restraining Order.

                    Ask them who the Administrator of Records and / or the Registered Agent is for your area so that you may have issued a Subpoena Duces Tecum for records.


                    • #11
                      Great........ and I was planning to tell Direct TV to take a flying leap.

                      Those jerk-offs cut off my service on 2/24 but my bill isn't due until 3/6!!! The automated customer service line says none of it is past due, but according to the guy I went around in circles with, $13.33 of it is past due.

                      I told him to put a supervisor on. I spent 1 hour and 15 mins. waiting for one. He tried several times to get me to just call back the next day, but I held.

                      My service was finally restored and my payment is due on the 6th.


                      • #12
                        Hey Sparky and Nite! Good to see you guys!

                        Well, it's a little late for me to call their bluff as I chose to take the higher road and pay them in hopes of settling the dispute with them directly without getting credit bureaus involved. Having choosing that road I have been subjected to further extortion as a result of their unscrupulous "review" of my account while I was in dispute with them. Retaliation seems to be the motive behind these "adjustments/taxes/fees" placed on my account. They placed the additional fees on the account and then attempted to bait me by being so "generous" as to offer to remove them ONLY if I dropped the original dispute. When I refused to that agreement they dropped the additional fees anyway and threatened me again if I continued to dispute the $32.31.

                        At this point my agenda is two fold.
                        1. Getting Dish Network to reimburse me the $32.31 that was extorted from me
                        2. Publicize this incident in order that someone else can be informed and prepared to deal with Dish Network and their unscrupulous practices.

                        Having said that, as you stated in your post, the cost to file a suit and or pursuing all the legal avenues available, would be much higher price than the amount in dispute. I guess the question is now is am I prepared financially to go the long haul in the name of justice? If not I guess I am just left a victim of Dish Network.

                        I'd like to take a poll see how many here feel that the $32.31 reimbursement and enlightenment of these unethical practices are worth me continuing with this battle.

                        Your vote and your advice as to my next move would be appreciated.

                        [ 02-27-2002: Message edited by: m*m ]


                        • #13
                          For them, the cost of litigation would be high. They'd have to send an attorney at who-knows-how-much per billable hour.

                          However, for this amount, you can simply file the claim in small claims court and represent yourself. You might be out a few dollars worth of filing fees, but those are negligible. Additionally, if you win, they can be ordered to reimburse you.

                          Then again, if you lose, you could be ordered to pay THEIR legal costs, which could be substantial.

                          Personally, I'd be inclined not to cave. I'd refuse further payment and would continue to dispute the $32.31

                          It's would be standard practice for them to hold off on further collections until the dispute over the $32.31 is settled.

                          They should've written it off. They have admitted that THEY made the error in telling you about the payoff. When that person told you what that final payoff was, and then you made payment, they accepted it.

                          You could make a strong arguement that their quotation of the final payoff and their subsequent acceptence of the final payoff in that amount was a de facto re-negotiation of the payoff amount.

                          A lawful representitive of their company quoted you a payoff price. You paid it. They have then renigged and demanded additional payments and threatend legal action for breach of contract if you do not pay. EVEN IF they wanted to get the other money that the other person "didn't tell you about", they definately shouldn't assess any late fees.

                          We had some problems with the doctors after my wife had a baby. The doctor's office didn't bill the insurance co. on some office visits until several months later and the insurance company said, "waited to long. we won't pay" so the Dr's office came after us.

                          We told them, "Hey. Not our fault you didn't bill it right. You're problem is with the insurance company."

                          They threatened to sue and garnish. We told them, "Go right ahead. Get ready to shut down the whole office for a few days because you will all be under subpoena."

                          They called and called and sent nasty letters. We told them to initiate suit or else we would seek a restraining order against them to keep them from harassing us. Once you threaten to sue, you better be prepared to do it.

                          Next thing we know, we got a statement from them that it was written off.


                          • #14
                            Me and my BIG mouth....

                            A couple of months ago, a friend at work asked me about watching 'Enterprise', as run on UPN. I informed him, that even though a DirecTV subscriber, like himself, *I* couldn't get UPN(we live less than 10 miles apart in rural TN). He suggested I call DirecTV, which I did. Short story version: I got UPN plus 5 local channels(local, meaning from Memphis 80 miles away).

                            Today, my parents, also DirecTV subscribers, call DirecTV about local channel access. They are told that they can't get in their area. They inform DirecTV that *I* have it, so why can't they? Next thing I know..while talking on the phone to my dad about it....my DirecTV goes OUT...ALL OF IT!

                            I call DirecTV(got through in RECORD time!) and am informed that *I* can no longer receive local channels(wasn't SUPPOSED to have it in the first place)...supposedly due to it being a violation of FEDERAL LAW? WTF?! They 'accidentally' dropped my other programming.(Uh-huh) They apologized for THAT inconvenience and 'fixed' it.

                            I explained to the nice lady that it was a *DirecTV employee* that allowed me local channel access and that I had been PAYING for it. That got me NO WHERE.

                            I know local channel access from DirecTV has SOMETHING to do with your residence's zip code. If the zip code is tied in with some sort of 'population density' formula, I'll NEVER get UPN/local access back.

                            Jeeeezzz.....what's next...FCC thugs in black ninja suits?
                            "When you guys get home and face an anti-war protester, look him in the eyes and shake his hand. Then, wink at his girlfriend, because she knows she's dating a *****."
                            -Commanding General, 1st Marine Division


                            • #15

                              I like your style man.

                              A couple of things,

                              "You could make a strong arguement that their quotation of the final payoff and their subsequent acceptence of the final payoff in that amount was a de facto re-negotiation of the payoff amount."

                              Are you referring to the $32.31 charge or the $20.93 charge? Granted they took the same position on both charges but they did "waive" the $20.31 even though it should have never been an issue to begin with. It's my belief that they waived it only to look as if they met me half way in this dispute hoping that I would drop the $32.31 dispute.
                              As far as the $32.31 dispute, I would have a harder time proving the de facto re-negotiation position as I didn't receive the name and I.D. of the representative I spoke to that early on in the dispute. If you take notice, as revealed my initial post as to how the events unfolded, the only thing I know was that I spoke to a female and she was the one who took my payment of $130.34 and informed me that the account was paid in full. I didn't get a representative I.D. or anything else. In my next contact with them I was told that this female was incorrect and had made a mistake but I had no way of identifying her. To my defense, however, doesn't it look crazy that I would initiate a $130.34 payment 6 days prior to the contract expiring and then pay them again on the day of the contract expiration? It's obvious that I attempted to pay them in full in a lump sum and they are pinging me for BS charges/fees. I would stand a better chance winning the de facto re-negotiation case on the $20.93 but what do you think about the 32.31?


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