DISH Network, LLC will pay the State of Vermont $125,000 to resolve the Attorney General’s claims that it violated Vermont’s Consumer Fraud Act in mailings to consumers last summer. ‘Words like ‘urgent‟ ‘immediately‟ ‘necessary‟ and ‘free’ have significant meanings,’ said Attorney General William H Sorrell. ‘Using such language to trigger unnecessary action by Vermont consumers won’t be tolerated.’In July 2010, DISH sent 310 letters to Vermont consumers. The letter included headings stating: ‘URGENT ACTION REQUIRED’ and ‘PLEASE READ IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID SERVICE INTERRUPTION OF YOUR HIGH DEFINITION PROGRAMMING.’ The letter further claimed that replacement of consumer equipment was ‘necessary’ and ‘free.’In the settlement agreement, DISH admitted that no immediate equipment upgrade was necessary. Additionally, some consumers who responded to the mailing were required to enter into a 24-month contract with DISH before they received the upgrade. In the complaint, the Attorney General alleged that this conduct violated the Vermont Consumer Fraud Act’s prohibition on unfair and deceptive acts in commerce.DISH later informed customers who entered into the 24-month contract that they did not need to do so and has neither enforced any contract commitment nor charged customers to receive the upgrade.Attorney General Sorrell noted his appreciation for a recipient of the letter who brought it to the attention of the Consumer Assistance Program.‘Alert Vermonters help us identify potential consumer protection problems early on,’ said Attorney General Sorrell. ‘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.’This 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 also received $125,000 from DISH. That settlement required DISH to make customer refunds and changes in its business practices.
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