Warning to all Dish Network Customers who purchased their DVRs: ensure you have documentation that specifically states that you have purchased the equipment and that it is no longer leased.
Here is the scam: If you conduct all of your initial signup over the phone, they have complete control over all paper records of the transaction. They will apply a label to the purchase fee that is very vague, with the words lease upgrade in it, and when asked over the phone will say that the fee is the purchase fee (notice there is no paper record of this). When you elect to terminate service, they will immediately state the the equipment is leased and must be returned, no matter how old and out of date it is.
When you say you purchased it, they will say there is no record. If you present the original bill (and they are hoping you no longer have it as mine was 7 years old) they will still deny it until you show them. Then, they will magically find it in their system, but say that the fee was for an upgrade to the equipment, not a purchase fee and continue to demand the return of the equipment or be reimbursed the FULL original retail price of the equipment when it was new (no matter how old or if it is obsolete). If you never received any equipment upgrade and still have the DVR you began your service with, they will insist you are wrong and demand proof, knowing quit well that no proof could exist.
When you conduct this conversation with them, you of course first speak with a basic CSR. They are trained to simply deny every claim. When you do not give up, they then connect you with a supervisor to whom you must completely repeat your entire conversation.
They again are trained to deny any resolution to your account other than return of the equipment or payment of its full intial retail price (no matter how old and obsolete). If you still do not capitulate, they finally connect you to the ERT (Executive Resolution Team) to whom you must yet again repeat your entire story. They are again trained to deny any claims to ownership, and in my case said they would connect me to the original bundlers for a 3-way discussion before immediately hanging up. When calling them again, I had to start at the very beginning with the basic CSR and work up the 3 layers of representatives because they refused to give me a direct number to call. All this is done to get you to give up and acquiesce.
Here is the beauty of the scam. At no time is there any risk to Dish, and they have a decent chance of getting hundreds of dollars out of ex-customers they have written off Its a win-win for the company. They have 100% control of the paper record and ensure it is vaguely documented for later interpretation. They force the terminating customer to navigate multiple levels of obstructionist CSRs in hopes theyll give up. They are counting on the fact that most people do not retain receipts beyond a couple years, and those few that happen to, well thats where the vague fee description comes in.
Even if you present these receipts, they will still continue to deny the purchase ever happened and threaten the ex-customers credit rating through debt recovery actions. If, at any point, the customer provides enough resistance (or evidence of purchase) Dish will simply drop the demand and claim that is was a computer records error of some kind with no financial loss on their end. Zero financial risk to Dish, but with the strong possibility of at least getting back old equipment or, what they are really counting on, receiving hundreds of dollars ($400 in my case) from the scammed customer to make the collections agency calls and bad credit reports stop.
My story: I was a Dish Network customer beginning November 2006 and ended when I left my house in September 2011, and I was pretty happy with the service. I signed up for the service through a bundling service offered by AT&T combining Dish, DSL and phone service (I do not recommend ever doing bundling after my experience). During the phone call to initiate this service, I specifically requested to pay an additional fee to purchase the DVR to avoid monthly rental charges for it.
An additional fee of $199.99 was added to my initial bill with the label of Lease Equipment Upgrade. Numerous errors on the bill prompted me to call about it, and in my review of all charges, I was told by the customer service representative that the $199.99 fee was for the purchase of the DVR, on the condition that I completed my initial contract commitment.
As I was a customer for 6 years, I had more than met that obligation. 4 years into my relationship with Dish, AT&T severed their bundling deal with them and tried to switch me to DirectTV. I decided not to, but when speaking with Dish representatives over the phone about separating the bundle, they mentioned that my equipment was leased and I corrected them. When I directed them to the initial bill, they agreed that yes, I had bought the DVR equipment and that they had updated my account information.
Again note the lack of paper records of this conversation. I had to terminate service when I moved from my home and planned to restart when I bought a new one.
In the meantime, they provided an option I accepted that kept my account active with a $5 monthly fee. When my circumstances were clearly not going to change in the near future, I asked to terminate my account, but they said they would keep it open and waive the fee, which I again accepted. Each subsequent month I would receive charges, and after 2 attempts to resolve this (again, since all transactions were done over the phone, there was no paper record) I demanded termination of my account. That is when Dish began running the scam described above on me.
Again, all Dish customers: DEMAND PAPER RECORDS THAT PRECISELY DESCRIBE ALL FEES PERTAINING TO PURCHASE OF ANY EQUIPMENT FROM THIS COMPANY OR YOU WILL FIND THEM DEMANDING ITS RETURN OR ITS ORIGINAL RETAIL PRICE UPON TERMINATION OF YOUR SERVICE.