DirecTV accused of racketeering by small business owners


A class-action suit is accusing DirecTV of deliberately misleading minority-owned small businesses owners into buying residential service, then coercing them into settlements for illegal usage of the services in business environments. 

Doneyda Perez, owner of Oneida’s Beauty and Barber Salon in Garden Grove, California, said DirecTV conspired with New York lawyer Julie Cohen Lonstein to “extort an unreasonable and unconscionable ‘settlement’” from her.

She said DirecTV sales reps walked into her salon in 2014 and sold her a service that she said was, unbeknownst to her, residential. Later, she said, she notified by Lonstein that she was breaking the law by using the service in her salon. She said she was coerced into a settlement with Lonstein and DirecTV.


Like this story? Subscribe to FierceVideo!

The Video industry is an ever-changing world where big ideas come along daily. Cable, Media and Entertainment, Telco, and Tech companies rely on FierceVideo for the latest news, trends, and analysis on video creation and distribution, OTT delivery technologies, content licensing, and advertising strategies. Sign up today to get news and updates delivered to your inbox and read on the go.

"Without the business owners being made aware, defendants designate the accounts as 'residential,' despite the fact that defendants solicited Ms. Perez and those similarly situated because they were small business owners,” according to court documents obtained and reported on by Courthouse News Service

After the residential service was established in her salon, Perez’s suit claims, Cohen Lonstein sent “independent auditors” to her business.

"Using the results of these audits, defendants then send legal correspondence to the business owners alleging that they have 'pirated' or stolen satellite cable television services, and threaten legal action unless the owners agree to pay thousands of dollars and/or become business subscribers,” the suit added. 

Perez said she was "misled and fraudulently induced" into settling and began paying $500 per month to meet settlement terms. 

As the news service reported, the case is nearly identical to a RICO class action filed against DirecTV and Cohen Lonstein in Middlesex, N.J. last October by another Latino salon owner. That case was withdrawn a month later. In her complaint, Angela Joaquin also accuses DirecTV and Cohen Lonstein of targeting minority businesses owners.

Meanwhile, in 2013, the Dallas Morning News reported on a rash of similar business-owner complaints against DirecTV and Lonstein, claiming they were also coerced into $15,000 settlements. 

Complaints have also emerged from places like Eden, Utah.

Reps for DirecTV parent AT&T didn’t immediately have a statement for FierceCable

For more:
- read this Courthouse News Service story
- read this Dallas Morning News story

Related articles:
AT&T sued for $100M by indie programmer for allegedly reneging on DirecTV carriage promise
DirecTV reportedly settles $75M suit against Al Jazeera


Suggested Articles

FuboTV signed a new agreement today with fantasy sports provider and bookmaker FanDuel to integrate sports betting data with the fuboTV streaming TV service.

Both Amazon Fire TV and Roku lately have boasted some impressive growth statistics regarding active users, but one analyst firm thinks the companies are still…

Rebuffering stands as one of the chief complaints for consumers of streaming video, and now Akamai is saying that even a little bit of rebuffering can cut…