RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The Better Business Bureau says it's seeing a rise in the number of complaints against companies providing Satellite TV. While companies must provide what they promise, the consumer has a duty too.
A simple thing can save you a lot of time and frustration when dealing with satellite companies -- reading. The Better Business Bureau says many times people don't read and fully understand the contracts before signing them.
Tom Gallagher with the Richmond BBB says consumers have the obligation to read and understand a contract before they sign it. He says, usually everything you need to know is spelled out.
"I don't know whether it is going to be in small print or big print but there is a lot of print on any contract that you are going to sign, you are the customer you have the absolute right to sign it or not sign it, don't sign it until you are happy with it," Gallagher said.
Nationwide, over the past three years, there have been more than 53,000 customer complaints, with 39,000 filed against DirectTV and 13,000 against Dish Network.
The most common complaints include: early termination fees, introductory offers, billing issues, and service issues. While 53,000 complaints may seem high, Gallagher says keep in mind that DirectTV has more than 18 million customers and Dish Network has more than 14 million.
"Out of Virginia, of that 53,000, there have only been 400 complaints that have come out of this area it appears to me that by comparison to some of the rest of the country we have some pretty good service," Gallagher said.
The best advice is to ask lots of questions and get everything in writing.
"If a sales rep comes and tells you that they are going to do all of these things for you plus bake bread on Saturday, don't believe it and if he says he is going to bake bread for you make sure you get it in the contract," Gallagher said.
Another complaint with satellite companies is when consumers upgrade their services, their contracts can be extended. Remember, the BBB adds that many people have satellite service and are perfectly happy.
Also the consumer groups say it gets complaints for cable service providers as well and the same rules apply, make sure you read and understand the contract before you sign it.
Another helpful tip, the organization says check your bill closely for errors and mark your calendar as a reminder when introductory offers and promotions end.