I will tell you the current situation first. Then, if you want the details, please read on. VMC Satellite is claiming we owe them $390 as a cancellation fee. VMC and their collection agency, Armor Systems Corporation, have been informed that the amount is a disputed claim because VMC gave us false information to entice us into a service agreement with them. I wanted local channels. They told me I would have them. Additionally, their inadequate installation did not satisfactorily deliver the "non-local" services we should have received. We are hard-working, honest people, and we pay our bills. The ONLY negative item on our credit report is from our unfortunate experience with VMC Satellite. But, I will not pay for something I did not receive. We did the right things. We complained to the consumer protection agencies. And my letters are sitting in files along with many, many others. And VMC is doing business as usual and keeping their stockholders happy. I dispute their claim now, and I will continue to dispute it. It is shameful that a company like this can continue to do business as it has, and try to ruin my credit (as well as countless others) because I did not agree to pay an "extorted" settlement fee to them. I also want to mention that, Dish Network initially drafted my checking account (without prior notice) for a $200 cancellation fee. I was able to dispute this through my bank and got that money back. When I explained to Dish Network the reason for cancellation, they immediately reversed the cancellation charge.
Now, for the history. All I wanted was satellite service with local channels. So I searched the Internet for "Dish Network" and VMC Satellite information was provided for ordering service. My primary concern was that we would have local channels, so I phoned the 800 number and asked the person answering to confirm that I would have local channels. She asked for my city and then promised me that yes, I would have local channels. I told her I would like to place an order for service, but she told me I would have to place the order through their website. Which I did. Little did I know that I was being led through the first gate down a very frustrating road to become another one of VMC's unsuspecting victims.
Initially, it appeared to me that I was dealing with one company. Do not be misled. VMC installs Dish Network Service. And they hire third-party contractors to do their work. When I last checked, VMC was not registered to do business in my state. VMC and Dish Network are two companies. They have separate "contracts." This also provides them with the opportunity to point fingers at the other, and hide behind legalities.
We did not move to our new residence immediately. But, after moving in, when I first tried our new service, I could not receive my local channels. I phoned the customer service number (which was with Dish Network) to be told that local channels are not available to me, but that "new markets are being added every day." I trusted that statement and wanted to allow them the opportunity to come through as promised.
Our service soon began to deteriorate, and we placed another service call to Dish Network to have it checked. A technician came out, made some adjustments, and things were a little better for a short time. I also inquired again about the local channels and received the same generic response about new markets.
In the meantime, our service still worsened. Another call to customer service resulted in another technician informing us that our service should never have been installed as it was and that a reinstall was required. The same day I placed another service call informing Dish Network of what we were told, and waited. A few days later, after not hearing anything from a service technician, I phoned customer service again. When they could not provide me with an explanation for the delay, I asked to speak with a supervisor. Again I asked about our local channels and finally received a honest answer. Our city was not their list of upcoming markets. So I cancelled the service.
A couple months later, I received a "collection" notice by email (routed to my spam folder - how professional is that?) from VMC Collections. I immediately replied providing the reason for cancellation, and I have spent months trying to get them to do the right thing. Armor Systems Corporation, VMC's collection agency, contacted me for payment, at which time I told them of our experience. I dipusted their claim because I would never have ordered the service if VMC had been honest from the beginning about the local service. Additionally, the service we received was not acceptable.
I have written letters to VMC Satellite, had numerous telephone conferences with Michael Lausten (most of which have been rude and insulting), written certified letters to the BBB of Metropolitan Washington DC and Fairfax County Department of Cable Communications to complain of their business practices - all to no avail. I have notified Armor Systems Corporation by phone and by certified mail that the collection charges are disputed due to the facts outlined above.
At VMC's direction, Armor Systems Corporation has reported this to the credit bureaus. They have not, as required by law, included in the credit bureau report that the account is in dispute. My credit rating, which was well above 800 prior to this fiasco, has dropped by more than 200 points. But, I will not pay for something I do not owe. It just isn't right.
How long will business practices such as this be allowed? Why hasn't anyone done anything about them before now? No one has been able to give me a good answer.
So, I will do what I can to tell others about my experience. Hopefully, they will not have to suffer the consequences from being a trusting person, as I have.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
U.S.A. Click here to read other Rip Off Reports on VMC Satellite