Middletown Couple Finds Cutting Cord With TV Service Provider Comes With a Fee

David Ribnicky wanted to save some cash on his cable bill and thought he found a less expensive television provider service, but then learned it could cost him hundreds of dollars to cancel if he was not satisfied with his plan.

When the Middletown man and his wife stopped at an AT&T store last month to buy a new cell phone an employee offered a special promotion that swayed the Ribnickys to switch over to DIRECTV.

“We got all of these incentives -- there were gift cards, bill credits,” Ribnicky said.

Ribnicky said the sales associate informed him it was a two-year contract, but said he could cancel the service if he didn’t like it.

“We tried it that night and, immediately, my kids didn’t like the way it worked. They couldn’t use the voice remote that they were used to,” Ribnicky said. “But we kept telling them, it’s a new thing and they have to give it a chance.”

And the family did.

“So, after about two or so weeks, we just about had it,“ Ribnicky said.

He didn’t think the savings were worth the hassle, so Ribnicky said he got on the phone with a customer service representative to cancel his plan and found out he would be charged a $460 early termination fee.

Ribnicky said the representative told him DIRECTV gives customers a 24-hour grace period in which to cancel without penalty.

“I said, ‘How am I supposed to evaluate something brand new in 24 hours?,’“ he said.

Ribnicky then spoke to a supervisor who offered to cut the termination fee in half, or Ribnicky could write a letter to AT&T and the dispute would be settled through binding arbitration.

“So, I came home and started looking through the documents. Of course, I couldn’t find any reference to this 24-hour evaluation period,” Ribnicky said.

The Ribnickys wrote a letter to AT&T and then contacted NBC Connecticut Responds.

DIRECTV’s early cancellation policy states, “If you decide to cancel before you complete your term commitment, you are responsible for paying an Early Termination Fee, which starts at $480 and decreases by $20 per month for each month completed.”

We didn’t find any mention of a 24-hour timeframe.

A spokesperson for AT&T and DIRECTV told NBC Connecticut, “DIRECTV customers have a 24-hour return window. As a show of good faith, we have credited this customer’s account and apologize for the inconvenience.”

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