TURLOCK (CBS13) — High profile financial disputes between TV networks and satellite and cable providers have put customers in the middle – stuck with blacked out or lost channels. So, if this happens to you, are you still tied to that contract?
Vernon Carson went a month, unable to watch his Fox News channel.“It’s ridiculous.” Vernon said. “That’s infuriating to not be able to watch what you want to watch.”
Fox News Channel was dropped from Dish Network over a financial with the satellite provider.
But, Vernon says flyers from Dish, promised the Fox News Channel on his TV guide lineup.
After numerous calls to Dish, the company wouldn’t let him out of his contract unless he paid a pricey early termination fee.
“It’s not right or fair,” Vernon said.
So do you have a right out of your contract if your satellite or cable provider drops your favorite channels?
We asked consumer attorney Stuart Talley to look over the contracts for Dish Network, DIRECTV and Comcast.
“This comes up a lot,” Talley told CBS13.
Dish Network and DIRECTV contracts both say they have a right to make “changes” to “programming”.
“And they’re very difficult to get out of,” Talley said.
But with Comcast, if you don’t like the changes, the contract says “you have the right to cancel”.
When we reached out to Dish about Vernon’s case they said “all pay-tv providers face disputes with channel owners.” but “switching providers is not the answer.”AT&T tells CBS13, it “does not require a contract for its UVerse service.” However, any customer receiving a promotional rate that terminates before the end of their promotion will be “charged a fee.” And they “don’t make exceptions due to programming changes.”
“I give up,” Vernon said.
After we got involved, Dish gave Vernon a discount on his bill: $30 each month for three months.
But he is afraid of what channel he might lose next.
“I’m here stuck in a contract i can’t get out of.” He said.
You can always cancel your contract with these providers, but often you’re going to have to pay some kind of prorated fee. TV providers argue they fight these battles with networks to keep costs low for you.
So what can you do if a provider drops a number of channels? Experts say if that happens you could argue there’s been a material change in service and that could justify getting out of your contract.
If you provider includes a binding arbitration clause in the contract, Talley recommends using it – because it may be free, quick and sometimes it’s even done over the phone.