BALTIMORE (July 16, 2009)—Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced today that his Consumer Protection Division, along with consumer protection agencies from 45 other States and the District of Columbia (the States), has entered into a settlement with Dish Network, LLC (Dish Network) concerning its marketing and billing practices. The investigation of Dish Network, which was led by Attorney General Gansler, as well as the Attorneys General of Tennessee, Washington, Pennsylvania and Missouri, focused on Dish Network and its third-party retailers marketing practices, as well as Dish Networks electronic billing practices.
Under the settlement, Dish Network has agreed to change its marketing and billing practices so that consumers will be provided clearer and more complete information when they agree to purchase Dish Networks programming services. The settlement also requires Dish Network to change its practices concerning the electronic debiting of consumers bank accounts and to obey state and federal do-not-call laws. Dish Network also agreed to require its third-party retailers and installers to follow the terms of the settlement.
Consumers need to know what they are agreeing to purchase and how much it will cost before they are asked to sign any contracts, said Attorney General Gansler. I am pleased that Dish Network has agreed to change its practices so that consumers will be more informed when they choose to purchase Dish Networks services.
The settlement resolves the States allegations that Dish Network:
-- Failed to adequately disclose all the terms of its contracts to consumers before they were required to commit to long-term programming agreements;
-- Made telemarketing calls to consumers in violation of do-not-call rules;
-- Failed to disclose the availability of rebates, credits and free offers;
-- Failed to disclose that the equipment the consumer was purchasing or leasing had been previously used and/or refurbished;
-- Made comparisons to competitors price offers when the goods or services being compared were materially different;
-- Charged consumers credit cards and debited bank accounts without providing adequate notice and obtaining appropriate authorization; and,
-- Refused to accept responsibility for the misconduct of its third-party retailers and installers.
Dish Network denied any wrongdoing but agreed to take measures to resolve the allegations and to pay the States $5.991 million, of which Maryland will be receiving $325,000. Dish Network also agreed to offer restitution to eligible consumers who filed complaints with the Attorney Generals Office or with Dish Network between January 1, 2004 and July 9, 2009.
Consumers who believe they are eligible for restitution should file a complaint with the Office of the Attorney General online at http://www.oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm or by telephone at 410-528-8662. In addition, consumers who file complaints with the Attorney Generals Office, Dish Network or the Better Business Bureau within the next 150 days may be eligible for restitution if the conduct occurred within the past two years.
Source: Attorney General Douglas Gansler