MONTPELIER, Vt. (Legal Newsline) - Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced a settlement on Friday with DISH Network LLC resolving allegations that it violated the state's Consumer Fraud Act.
DISH will pay the state $125,000 to resolve the allegations that it sent mailings to consumers last summer with misleading headings like "URGENT ACTION REQUIRED" and "PLEASE READ IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID SERVICE INTERRUPTION OF YOUR HIGH DEFINITION PROGRAMMING" that claimed replacement of consumer equipment was "free" and "necessary."
"Words like 'urgent,' 'immediately,' 'necessary' and 'free' have significant meanings," Sorrell said. "Using such language to trigger unnecessary action by Vermont consumers won't be tolerated."
Sorrell alleged that DISH Network's conduct violated the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act's prohibition on deceptive and unfair acts in commerce. In the settlement agreement, DISH admitted that no immediate upgrade to equipment was necessary. Consumers who responded to the mailing allegedly were required to enter into a 24 month contract with DISH before they received the upgrade.
DISH later allegedly informed customers who entered the 24 month contract that they did not need to do so and has neither enforced any contract commitment or charged customers to receive the upgrade.
"Alert Vermonters help us identify potential consumer protection problems early on," Sorrell said. "This case should remind us all to pay attention to claims made in mailings and advertisements of all types - what is promised is not always what is sold."
The settlement is the second in just over two years between the state and DISH. In July 2009, as part of a $5.9 million settlement with 45 states, Vermont received $125,000 from DISH. The settlement required DISH to make changes in its business practices as well as customer refunds.