Settlement: $325,000 To Md. Dish Users

July 17, 2009|By Andrea K. Walker | Andrea K. Walker,andrea.walker@baltsun.com

Maryland Dish Network subscribers will share $325,000 in restitution under a settlement concerning the satellite television company's marketing and billing practices.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler, through his Consumer Protection division, joined 45 other states and Washington in suing the company for not adequately disclosing all the terms of its contract, making telemarketing calls to consumers who requested not to get them, failing to disclose the availability of rebates, credits and free offers and not telling consumers they were purchasing used equipment.

The company also made inaccurate comparisons to competitors' prices and charged consumer credit cards and debited bank accounts without proper permission.

Under the settlement, Dish Network has agreed to change its marketing and billing practices and make sure consumers clearly understand what they are buying. It also must change its practice of debiting consumer bank accounts and make sure third parties it hires to market its products follow terms of the settlement.

Dish Network also agreed to pay $5.991 million in total restitution to consumers across the country, including the $325,000 to Maryland. Eligible are consumers who filed complaints with the Attorney General's Office or with Dish Network between Jan. 1, 2004 and July 9, 2009. Maryland had about 65 such complaints in that time.

Consumers who haven't yet filed complaints but feel they were unfairly treated by the company in the time period can also file complaints with the Attorney General's Office, Dish Network or the Better Business Bureau within the next 150 days to see if they are eligible for restitution.

Complaints can be filed with the attorney general's office at oag.state.md.us/Consumer/complaint.htm or by telephone at 410-528-8662.

It is not known how many Marylanders will receive restitution.

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