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Troubleshooters: Dish Network not providing service, still billing Wilmington woman

READ MORE: Troubleshooters: Dish Network not providing service, still billing Wilmington woman
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Debbie Lewis recently moved to Wilmington from Sampson County and can't get a satellite signal at her new house. She mailed back her receiver box, but says Dish Network still expects her to pay for another year's worth of service.

"I specifically told her, I said I have my house for sale, and I hope to be moving in the next two years, before the contract is up,” Lewis explained. “I said if you cannot provide me service, will I be liable, she said oh, no.”

Debbie Lewis's new house in Wilmington is surrounded by trees, and when contractors for Dish Network came out to install her satellite dish, they realized it wasn't going to work.

But Dish Network still keeps billing her.

"It's just ridiculous that they expect me to pay for a service they cannot provide,” Lewis stated.

We checked out Dish Network on the Better business Bureau's web site, and saw the company had a staggering 13,000 complaints filed against it in the last 36 months.

And it's not just dish network.

Competitor Direct TV has 36,000 complaints on file, and a failing grade with the Better Business Bureau.

"Across the industry, especially in satellite, they have a product that people want, and they tend to just take advantage of people,” said Kathy Graham of the BBB.

We asked Graham if customers have any recourse if a sales rep misleads them to get their business, like what Debbie Lewis says happened to her.

Graham says a customer may if they have the conversation recorded, or can get a copy of the recording from the company, but barring that, they may be stuck to the contract they signed.

"The responsibility is on the consumer to know what that contract says, and it's tedious, sometimes it's very technical, and legal jargon, but the responsibility is on you, you have to read that contract,” Lewis said.

Lewis found out the hard way there is a clause in the Dish Network contract that says you're still obligated to pay, even if you can't get a signal because of trees or other obstructions. It may seem unreasonable, but it's not against the law.

After we contacted Dish Network on Debbie Lewis's behalf, they agreed to let her out of the contract, and even waived the cancellation fee. But judging by the number of complaints on file, you might not be so lucky if you have a similar dilemma.

Besides reading the fine print, beware of extras that are offered to you for free on a trial basis. If you fail to cancel by a certain date, the company can automatically lock you into a contract, and start charging you for extras you really didn't even want in the first place.

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To Kill Cable and Satellite

To Kill Cable and Satellite providers, its very simple.

1. Go out and get a digital antenna, they range from $20-$50. This allows you to pick up all the major networks (Fox/NBC/ABC/CBS) in High Definition for free. It is also a BETTER IMAGE, because the over-the-air signal is less compressed than the signal coming from cable or satellite.

2. Many many cable and network shows are now available on Hulu.com and other streaming video websites, usually with less commercials or sometimes no commercials at all.

There are also websites now where you can watch other viewers Streamed content. For example, if a user was on Fox News, they could feed the signal into their computer, and you could watch what they are watching, for free, just as if it was a live webcam.

And for just $10 a month, you can subscribe to Netflix and get millions of movies streamed online directly to your computer.

A couple of fairly inexpensive cords and you can hook up any laptop or desktop directly to either an HDTV or a Standard television.

For the cost of a high speed internet connection, a $25 digital antenna, and $10 a month for Netflix, you can get 75% of all the content you would watch on cable or satellite, and for a fraction of the cost.

Why pay these thieves? Make them change THEIR ways! And when prices and service come back down to reality, then go back to cable or satellite. In this economy, why would someone on a fixed income spend $75-120 a month for Television??

Good information there

And I'd just like to add that you don't even need to purchase an expensive powered antenna. There's plenty of websites out there that have nicely detailed instructions on how to make your own HDTV antenna with most of the parts available in many people's garages right now. The one I made outperformed both the rather expensive ones I had purchased. Not only do I get the four major networks, I also get a couple other channels that many people aren't even aware are broadcasting into the greater Wilmington area.

I would also like to add that if someone doesn't really want more than the basic networks they can also get very basic cable at prices the cable companies don't publicize too well. Time Warner has an $8 package that isn't too bad.

watch out for direct tv payments

for those of you who have direct tv, be very wary of paying by debit/credit card. the second you pay for it by that method you automatically agree to allow them to debit your account for any money owed to them no matter what. we had ours turned off because we lost our jobs temporarily and in an effort to not get lost in debt to them had it shut down. they debit our account and caused it to overdraw by a huge amount because they charged us all we owed them,plus the length of the contract and early shutoff fees. we were able to get our bank to get our money back but it is in the fine print of the contract if you can find it on their webpage. beware!!

run away from directv

I had an upgrade offer from Directv.
We took them up on it and they could not provide advertised services or what I ordered and never disclosed that I would have a 2 year contract extension. The installer from Mastec told me I had to purchase an over the air antenna to get my local channels in Wilmington,NC although they were advertised as included.
So I called to cancel in 24 hours.
After several phone calls I was told I would have a $486.00 early cancellation fee that I disputed. I agreed to a $220.00 early cancellation fee for my original contract.Directv took the $486.00 out of my checking using my Visa debit without authorization.My bank returned the money to my account.
Well after a dozen letters disputing this, Directv sent it to a collection agency.
I disputed it again in writing with the collection agency-now I find the collection agency put a collection negative on my credit report.
Directv can't provide me with anything I signed regarding a 2 year contract extension and can't seem to find the upgrade installation paperwork.
The NC Attorney General has many Directv complaints.

Just another sign of greed and inability to do honest business..

A contract that makes someone pay for a service they cannot receive? Not an illegal business contract? I'm sorry, that's just bad, dishonest business practice! That's no less than just reaching into someones pocket and pulling money out at their whim...most people recognize this as "STEALING".

This is what's wrong with America these days, it is simple greed and groveling for any dollar they can get their hands on. Businesses nowadays refuse to be accountable for their products and services. The banks, the insurance companies, satellite/cable companies all have free reign to take your money for their grand wealth and leave you with zero. Car manufacturers don't want to back up their warranties without a major hassle and inconvenience. Try having one of your nice, new mega-screen TV's replaced that suddenly went up in smoke, or even a cheap toaster oven for that matter. Nobody backs their products or services anymore, even if you purchase the "extended warranty" for an extended price.

So whatever happened to right and wrong? Whatever happened that would allow a business to rip-off their customers, smile about it and flaunt their profits? It appears that over 30,000 complaints against direct TV has had no impact as they sign them up every day. What is the consumer to do these days???