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Roundabout conversations about bill with DirecTV



Updated: August 2, 2012 10:31AM

Dear Fixer: For the last three months I have been talking with DirecTV over a billing problem.

First, I was being charged for a third DVR that I never had. After I complained, they canceled the monthly charge for it. But then they sent me a box for the DVR to be returned (which was impossible, since it never existed).

After numerous calls, they said this was fixed.

Then, last week, I saw that my bank account was debited $175 to pay for this supposedly missing DVR.

I spent three hours on the phone talking to numerous people. I was told the money would be put back on my debit card in three days.

My bank account never showed the refund. I called again and was assured it would take three days; later, I was told eight to 10 days.

Finally, they made the refund of $269.37 — but they did so as a credit to my DirecTV account. I don’t want a credit — I want the money back in my bank account so I can use it to pay bills.

Trudy Maatta, Antioch

Dear Trudy: If there’s one thing we’ve learned in almost seven years of writing this column, it’s that you don’t want to mess with a phantom DVR.

After all this, you didn’t seem like you were up for another three hours on the phone, so we decided to step in and try to fix this. It actually wasn’t that hard, once we got it into the hands of the right person at DirecTV. In just about a day, they had everything straightened out. They converted the credit on your DirecTV account back into a credit to your debit card account, and now you are in control of your funds.

Great news for babies

After years of “voluntary” standards for play yards/portable cribs — and dozens of deaths in poorly designed models — the United States finally has a new mandatory safety standard for these items.

This is very good news.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission approved the new standard last week in a 4-0 vote.

The new standard, expected to take effect in early January, will require newly manufactured play yards to pass a stability test, contain mechanisms to prevent them from folding in on a child, use only accessories that can’t entrap a child, have strong floors and meet minimum height requirements.

The bad news is there are still a lot of old, unstable models in use. Please, folks, get rid of those. For more info, check out or

COSTLY LESSONS: Consumer’s tale of woe

The Fixer would love to meet the horrible individual who first thought up the infamous “mystery shopper” scam on the Internet. We’d dump a pile of angry “Dear Fixer” letters at his feet.

The latest victim is L.C. of Chicago, who thought she had secured an actual job with a company that sends secret shoppers to evaluate businesses.

Like every other person caught up in this scam, L.C. received a check from her “employer” and deposited it in her personal bank account to be used to perform her mystery shopping duties (which always involve wiring money to someone else in the “company”).

The funds quickly appeared in her account, and L.C. said a bank teller confirmed the check had cleared. (We’re not sure why a teller would have said that, because making sure a check has cleared can take weeks.)

You can guess what happened next.

Shortly after L.C. wired the money to the scammer, her bank discovered the check was fraudulent. And now her bank says L.C. owes it money.

Readers, let’s not give these con artists any more money. If you see an ad for an online mystery shopping job, it’s a scam. Simple as that.

What is a Costly Lesson? It’s an UNFIXABLE problem that cost someone a lot of money but holds a valuable lesson for the rest of us. If you’ve got something to warn the rest of us about, e-mail with Costly Lessons in the subject line. And don’t worry — for Costly Lessons, we leave out last names to prevent further embarrassment.

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