Q. My family plans to spend the last two weeks of August at a vacation home about 50 miles away from our house, which means we won’t be there to watch DIRECTV. Is there a way to suspend our account for that time so we don’t have to pay? — Carl, Cleveland.

Carl, thank you for the timely question. Many Americans are planning last-minute summer vacations now, but are unsure what to do with their utility and pay TV services. Do you keep them on and just pay even though you don’t use them during your vacation? Or do you cancel the account altogether and try to renew it when you come back?

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Well, I can’t speak to the utility question, but I can answer your DIRECTV inquiry. The satcaster says you can temporarily suspend your account without charge by calling 1-800-531-5000.  You can say, ‘suspend service,’ at the prompt and the automated system will handle your request.

But there are rules: To be eligible for suspending your account, you must either be going away on vacation; have a second home and only need service for part of the year; or you are moving or relocating to a new location and it will be awhile before you can reinstall DIRECTV service at your new home.

You also can suspend service for a minimum of 30 days, and the suspension time during a 12-month period can not exceed six months.

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In addition, your bill must have a zero balance; and you are allowed a maximum of two ‘suspend requests’ every 12 months if you have a single account.

Also worth noting:

* Service agreements are extended for the amount of time the account is in suspension. For example: Your service agreement expires in June, but then you suspended the account for 4 months. The updated service agreement now ends in October.

* Recurring or promotional credits don’t get extended. For example: You currently have 6 months left of a $10 for 12 months credits offer, but suspend your account for 2 months. You will forfeit the credits during the time in suspend. Your account will receive the remaining 4 months of credits when it is reinstated from suspension

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Non-DIRECTV subscribers will be happy to know that other TV providers offer ‘suspend account’ options as well. Some operators may charge you, however, so I suggest calling your cable or satellite service for current details and rules.

— Phillip Swann

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