Q. In Late August 2009 I called DirecTV to have my service canceled at my former address because I would be moving to a house at the end of October. The representative that I spoke with told that me that canceling or (the term that they used) suspending my service would not be a problem. I was also told that upon moving, if I would like to reinstate my service it would be free of charge. I did not reinstate my service and decided to go with my local cable provider. Fast forward 9 months to June 2010. I receive a call from DirecTV informing me that I owe them money for a bill in March 2010. I told the representative that I am no longer at the address where my service was located and to check to see if a new tenant has reinstated the service at my former address. I was then told that when I canceled my service that I should have been told that my account would be suspended then reactivated if I did not call to say that I did not want the service to be reinstated. I informed the representative that I was not told this information when I canceled last year and that I did not sign off on or agree to such a ridiculous term. In addition, I was not in a contract so I didn't violate any sort of contractual agreement that may have been set forth when I began the service. Since that phone call I have returned all equipment. I was receiving daily calls from DirectTV stating that this bill (amounting to a little over $200) must be paid or the credit card they have on file will be charged. Now I am receiving weekly bills requesting that this bill be paid. Can they get away with this?
A. Denora, this was DirecTV's mistake, plain and simple, and it is in the process of refunding your money, says Vaughn Cater, a company spokesperson. It did a little digging into your account and found that there was some miscommunication about the cancellation you asked for.
You were charged a total of $531.38, and DirecTV says that it will be processing a refund to your credit card of $522.59 within five to ten business days. Why the discrepancy? Apparently you'd purchased a few pay-per-view movies that were still on your account – and never paid for – before you canceled, which means they're collecting for those. I'd take it as a loss and move on.
This sort of thing is why we keep tabs on our credit card bills, and why we fight companies when we think we've been falsely charged. This is a lot of money back in your pocket – well worth the extra legwork it took to get it there.
Consumer Ally problem solver Jean Chatzky is the "Today Show" financial adviser, a longtime financial journalist and best-selling author.