Dish fined for failing to properly communicate rate hikes in Wisconsin

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) will pay a $225,000 fine and credit $4.25 to an estimated 96,500 eligible customers in Wisconsin, or approximately $635,125 total, for failing to properly communicate rate hikes and the company's cancellation policy. 

The fine is part of a legal settlement stemming from a complaint filed in the Dane County Circuit Court that detailed several instances of Dish raising its prices without telling customers that, under certain conditions, they could cancel their service without paying an early termination fee.

Dish did not admit to violating Wisconsin consumer laws, but noted in the settlement agreement that the company appreciates "constructive feedback regarding our communications with our customers. We are pleased to amicably resolve this matter, so that we can continue to focus on providing outstanding customer service and the best value in pay-TV."

As part of the settlement, when it increases prices on its rate plans that are subject to an earlier termination fee, Dish must tell customers all offers that will be affected by the rate hike, the date of the increase and new price, and how to cancel service without paying an early termination fee.

 "Wisconsin satellite and cable consumers must be made aware of the option to cancel without penalty when there is a material change to contracted services," said Frank Frassetto, division administrator for trade and consumer protection, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.

Customers impacted by the decision are those that saw one or more price increases on their core programming packages from January 2010 to February 2013 and were subject to early termination fees.  Those customers will received the $4.25 bill credit within 60 days.

This isn't the first time Dish has been fined. In 2012, the company was sued by the Federal Trade Commissions for allegedly violating the FTC's telemarketing rules by calling "millions" of consumers on the National Do Not Call Registry. The FTC asked a U.S. District Court in Illinois for a permanent injunction to prevent Dish from breaking its telemarketing rules, in addition to monetary damages that it did not specify.

For more:
- see this Wisconsin State Journal article

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