Satellite-TV provider DirecTV will pay the Attorney General's Offices in New Jersey and Pennsylvania a total of $790,000 to reimburse them for investigating allegations of deceptive advertising and unfair sales practices.
The payments are part of a settlement with 49 states and the District of Columbia worth $13.25 million. DirecTV Group Inc. is the nation's second-largest pay-TV provider behind Philadelphia's Comcast Corp.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office will receive $605,000; its New Jersey counterpart will get $185,000.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett, the governor-elect, said the agreement required DirecTV to make several improvements in its dealings with consumers.
Among them, DirecTV must replace leased defective equipment at no cost but for shipping, clearly disclose limits in availability of local channels, and notify consumers before they are obligated to pay for a seasonal sports package.
"Businesses have an obligation to provide consumers with clear and specific information about their products and services," Corbett said in a statement.
He said consumers might be eligible for a restitution program established through the settlement if they have unresolved issues that occurred after Jan. 1, 2007.
"DirecTV has worked hand in hand with the attorneys general to formalize many of the customer improvements we have made over the past few years and are pleased to have come to this agreement," said Mike White, DirecTV's chief executive officer. He said the company was "committed to always operating with the highest standards of integrity."
The Two Settlements
In the satellite-TV case, DirecTV agreed to:
Pay a total of $13.25 million to 49 states.
Clearly disclose to customers prices and other terms.
Replace defective leased equipment.
Clearly notify customers before they must pay for a seasonal sports package.
Disclose limitations on the availability of local channels.
In the yogurt case, Dannon agreed to:
Pay a total of $21 million to 39 states.
Stop claiming that Activia yogurt and DanActive drinks help prevent, treat, cure, or mitigate disease.
Have reliable scientific evidence to support other claims about health benefits.
SOURCES: Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorneys general