Dish Network Corp. said Thursday it agreed to pay nearly $6 million to settle charges that it improperly marketed, promoted and sold its products and services.
Although the satellite TV provider isn’t admitting any wrongdoing in settling with attorneys general in 46 states, including Maine, it agreed to pay restitution to affected customers and make fuller disclosures in advertising and written contracts.
Maine will receive $20,000 of the settlement to dedicate to consumer protection work.
State officials say Dish failed to disclose all the terms of service to customers, including rebates, credits and free offers. The states say that Dish refused to take responsibility when customers were misled by service resellers and equipment installers.
State officials also accused Dish of charging customers’ credit cards and withdrawing money from bank accounts without giving adequate notice and getting proper authorization. They also said Dish didn’t tell customers that equipment sold or leased was used or refurbished.
“Companies who treat consumers unfairly will be investigated and strongly encouraged to improve their business practices,” said Maine Attorney General Janet T. Mills. “With this settlement, consumers who received insufficient services or were overcharged by Dish Network LLC will have the opportunity to be reimbursed for their losses.”
As part of the settlement, Dish agreed to more clearly disclose in ads any restrictions on promotional offers. It also promised to either sell new equipment or tell consumers they’re buying used goods. The company also must require retailers that resell its services to comply with the terms of the states’ agreement.
Unresolved complaints that were sent to Dish Network or the Maine attorney general since Jan. 1, 2004, are eligible for the restitution program. Dish Network will send a claims notice to those consumers who are eligible for the restitution program. Additionally, Maine consumers can file a complaint no later than Dec. 15 with the Attorney General’s Office at Attorney General’s Consumer Information and Mediation Service, 6 State House Station, Augusta 04333.
Englewood, Colo.-based Dish reached a settlement with all states except California, North Carolina, Illinois and Ohio. Those four states did not accept the settlement terms and their legal claims against Dish are pending.