(07/20/2009)
The West Virginia Attorney General's Office has reached a settlement with DISH Network, a Colorado-based satellite television provider.

The Attorney General's consumer division received about 500 complaints from WV customers saying they got ripped-off, according to Chris Hedges, Assistant Attorney General.

West Virginia is one of 46 states to reach an agreement.

The complaints covered a period over four years, with the investigation lasting about two years.

The AG's office says consumers thought they were getting lots of channels at a low price, only to see a sudden increase in fees or an unexpected reduction in the number of channels provided.

The company has agreed to resolve all existing consumer complaints, and to provide remedies to any consumers who lodge complaints within the next 150 days.

DISH Network apparently decided not to even take customer complaints about the switch and bait.

Worse yet, the company, in some cases, set up automatic withdrawals from bank accounts or made charges on credit card accounts without the consumers' knowledge.

DISH Network has agreed to fully explain its prices and channel availability, both orally and in writing, Hedges said.

The company's advertising will reflect its actual pricing and contractual obligations.

If there is a pricing or programming change, DISH Network agrees to allow the consumer to cancel the service without being subjected to early termination fees.

DISH Network plans on spending $125,000 toward consumer education.

Attorney General Darrell V. McGraw encourages anyone with a complaint to contact his consumer protection division at 1-800-368-8808 or 304-558-8986.


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