Bamboozled: Turning off a pesky bill

Kathi and Will Evans pay their bills — when payment is due.BB branding

But when DirecTV billed the couple for charges they said weren’t owed, they didn’t pay. Bills led to collection notices.

“They say pay up in 30 days, or else,” Kathi Evans said.

She made lots of phone calls to DirecTV, and each time a company rep promised to investigate the billing dispute and call them back, but the Evanses never received any word.

They did receive more collection notices.

That’s when they called Bamboozled.

In December 2007, the Evanses saw an ad for Verizon’s FIOS service. They were interested but when they inquired, they were told it was not available in their area at that time. They went for DirecTV service instead.

71210In October 2008, the Evanses sold their home in Toms River, temporarily becoming renters while they searched for a new property. They asked DirecTV to put service on hold until they found a new home. DirecTV service was also turned on for their rental for a few months, but they again put it on hold when they were moving to their new house.

On Aug. 28, 2009, Kathi Evans called to cancel the service because FIOS — the service they originally wanted — was available for their new home.

The DirecTV rep said she’d send out a recovery kit so the equipment could be returned, and there would be a cancellation fee of $80, plus a partial service charge that would not exceed $38.05. A month later, Kathi Evans called again to get the final charge: $109.47 (an $80 termination fee and a $29.47 partial service fee).

“I made arrangement for an electronic payment through my bank for $109.47, which was paid on or about September 25, 2009,” Kathi Evans said. “We sent the DirecTV boxes and remotes back in the packaging provided.”

But at the end of October, she received another bill. A DirecTV billing rep said the account would be forwarded to a supervisor who would expedite the account and refer it to a resolution team.

“I was assured that the resolution team would have the account by Monday and that I would hear something soon that the issue had been resolved,” Kathi Evans said. “I never received an e-mail or a phone call.”

In December, the first collection notice arrived, saying DirecTV was owed $161.47. Kathi Evans called again, and spoke to a billing rep who didn’t understand why the account hadn’t been corrected, and she referred the account to another supervisor, who would contact the collection agency and resolve the issue.

“I was told that I would get an e-mail when the situation was resolved and that it would take at least a week,” she said. “Again, nothing.” Until late January, when yet another collections notice was in Evanses’ mailbox.

This time, the reps Evans spoke with said the fees were still owed and that DirecTV never received payment. Unsatisfied, Evans called again that afternoon, hoping to get a different rep.

“I spoke to Danielle who transferred me to billing where I spoke to Mirabelle who then transferred me to Rachel in billing,” she said. “Rachel put me on hold for over 10 minutes without coming back on the line after I demanded to speak to a supervisor.’’

Evans hung up and tried again. After several transfers and periods of hold time, a rep promised Evans would get a call back from a supervisor.

Four days passed without a phone call.

When Evans called again, it was more of the same. She finally reached another supervisor, who insisted the account was correct and the money was owed.

“According to her I owe the money no ifs, ands or buts and that if I don’t want my credit rating damaged, to pay the money,” Evans said. “When I made the original phone call to cancel the service I did not try to get any fees waived. I paid what I was told that I owed.”


Bamboozled called DirecTV to see if someone could sort out the $161.47 charge and get the collections companies off the Evanses backs.

After a few days of investigation, the verdict was on the Evanses side.

“After investigating Kathi Evans’ DirecTV account, we have found an administrative error occurred, in which she was incorrectly billed for a valid early cancellation fee,” said spokesman Vaughn Carter. “Ms. Evans account was disconnected after one year and eight months and at that time she should have been billed $80 not the $240 that appeared on her monthly statement.”

Carter said DirecTV has corrected the account and it has zeroed out the balance. He said Evans received an apology, and the company has advised the collection agency to stop collection activity and remove any negative credit reporting.

Thanks to DirecTV for finally working out the kinks in the account and for taking steps to protect the Evanses credit reports.

Evans is glad she can kiss the frustration goodbye.

“I am very relieved to put this all behind me and move forward with FIOS like we wanted to do in the first place,” she said.

She’ll be keeping an eye on her credit reports to make sure there are no negative marks from her DirecTV experience. If there are, she promises to let us know.