DirecTV Agrees to Pay $5.35 Million to Settle FTC Probe

Dec 13, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Satellite operator DirecTV has agreed to pay a record $5.35 million to settle a Federal Trade Commission investigation into charges that the company’s telemarketers contacted households registered with the national Do Not Call registry to offer service, the FTC announced Tuesday.

The fine, which must be approved by a federal judge, would be the largest settlement ever paid in a consumer protection case, according to the FTC, and comes just one day after DirecTV settled an unrelated investigation by 22 states into the company’s advertising and marketing practices.

The settlement stems from charges filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC that DirecTV and five independent telemarketing firms violated the Do Not Call registry rules as soon as the anti-telemarketing policy went into effect in October 2003. The complaint also names six principals at the five telemarketing firms.

The Do Not Call registry has more than 10 million registered households and is designed to prevent telemarketers from disturbing consumers with sales-pitch calls.

DirecTV in a statement shifted much of the blame to the telemarketing firms: “The majority of the complaints the FTC received related to telemarketing calls placed by a small number of former independent retailers, who ignored DirecTV policies prohibiting unauthorized telemarketing. DirecTV has agreed to continue to closely monitor independent retailers to ensure that their telemarketing practices comply with the law and DirecTV’s policies.”

In the separate settlement announced Monday, DirecTV agreed to pay $5 million to 22 states and some subscribers to resolve claims of poor reception, allegations that subscribers did not receive channels that were promised and accusations that some customers were charged for canceling services during free programming offer periods that had not yet expired.