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DIRECTV, Dish Subs: Why You Don’t Want a 2-Year Contract

Q. I want to cancel DIRECTV because I lost my ABC station a month ago and it doesn’t look like it’s coming back. But the problem is that I signed up for a two-year agreement six months ago. Is there anyway to get out of it? I want to cancel!! — Penny, Richmond, Virginia. 

Penny, sorry but you’re stuck unless you want to pay a price. DIRECTV has a termination penalty in their two-year agreements that require you to pay $20 a month for every month you do not fulfill. So let’s say you canceled today, you would be obligated for 18 months times 20, which comes to a $360 penalty.

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The termination penalty looms large now for Penny and many other DIRECTV and Dish subscribers who are missing their favorite channels due to carriage disputes with their owners. (DIRECTV has been without more than 120 Nexstar-owned local stations since July 3 while Dish lost 22 Fox regional sports channels on July 26 because of a separate fee fight.)

They would like to cancel and switch providers to watch their local and sports channels again. But they can’t because of the termination fees.

DIRECTV, like other companies, both in and outside the TV business, use two-year agreements to keep customers from service-hopping. Without them, DIRECTV’s subscribers might switch to another provider every time something bad happens, such as a channel blackout during a programmer fee fight or an increase to one’s bill.

Of course, not every DIRECTV or Dish subscriber has a two-year agreement. The satcasters (and other pay TV providers) only require you to accept one if you are getting a promotional offer, such as a cheaper monthly bill or free installation of an advanced HD DVR that might offer 4K programming. But many subscribers agree to the two-year deals because the offers sometimes seem irresistible. (DIRECTV actually provides a free year of the NFL Sunday Ticket if you agree to a two-year deal, a near $300 value.)

But Penny’s dilemma is fresh evidence that signing up for a two-year agreement is a big mistake, even if the return is particularly juicy. As a consumer, you want to preserve your leverage in every situation. But the two-year agreement gives all your leverage to the pay TV company.

So the next time you’re considering accepting a two-year offer, remember Penny.

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— Phillip Swann

About TV Answer Man (1687 Articles)
The TV Answer Man is veteran journalist Phillip Swann who has covered the TV technology scene for more than two decades. He will report on the latest news and answer your questions regarding new devices and services that are changing the way you watch television.

31 Comments on DIRECTV, Dish Subs: Why You Don’t Want a 2-Year Contract

  1. Victor Hernandez // August 14, 2019 at 12:52 pm // Reply

    I’ve cancelled my service with Direct TV because of loss of my channels & constant on going issues! They have nerve to charge me for disconnecting with them. I should charge them for each day i along with millions of others went without channels we were paying for and not receiving!!! I guess a lawyer will settle this mess that thier greed caused.

  2. It seems to me that if you lost a channel due to a contract dispute between nexstar and direct tv plus they raise your price, they have in fact broken their contract with the consumer?

  3. The thing you forgot to mention about why DTV and dish require contracts is to help pay for all the hardware they are connecting and leaving in your house in order for the service to work. They often give the hardware free of charge, much like many mobile providers. Like mobile providers, you can opt not to accept a contract, but then need to pay for the hardware up front. Most people have more than one TV. I just bought some DTV equipment so the price is fresh in mind. It is $300 for the main tv “server,” then $150 for each additional receiver for each additional TV. The equipment is yours afterward and you can sell it although not for retail brand new. So by this math, a cancellation fee is cheaper. Also, if you lose channels during a squabble between content providers, most stations stream content online. Or Netflix, or Hulu.

    • This is the first I heard they will sell their Equipment.
      But your reference to the main TV “Server”, is that the “Genie Receiver” or something New ?
      and the “other” additional TV equipment, are they Genie Mini’s ? (They are NOT receivers)
      When did DTV start this ?

    • The thing that gets me though is they usually lure you in with a $300 gift card. If you just pay bills with that money and bank the cash you’ve got plenty to get out if you need to. But why sign a contract when you can go month to month with streaming? Unless you really want that year of Sunday ticket. And I’ve found that any real threat to cancel DTV uncovers huge savings and usually more Sunday ticket lol

  4. Does Direct TV ever plan to bring ABC back because they have really gone downhill and are definitely not worth paying for? They brought CBS back after 3 weeks. They really don’t care if their customers are happy or not.

  5. Linda Bennett // August 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm // Reply

    But when you signed your two-year contract that contract stated the channels you would receive for that two years so I would check into that if I were you

  6. If they won’t let us terminate, let’s ALL demand refunds for the channels we are still paying for, but not receiving!

    • I asked for a compensation for the month and one half. They gave me 10.00 off my bill next month. Told them I don’t want that I want the channels back. There are states that got them back a couple weeks ago. In my area they said another month or more. I have direct tv

  7. i donated to locast.org, because when i cut cable my new outdoor antenna did not perform as it indicated, so why is locast so choppy and interrupting, they introduced their own commercials, (locast ) and its a disaster, you cant watch anything uninterrupted, the streaming is awful, i am about 45 minutes from Philly, and 50 from NYC is that the reason why, whats up with them, can anyone relate to this service?

  8. George Whiting // August 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm // Reply

    Direct tv said it gives certain channels with that that2 year agreement. Why are they not penalized?

  9. Jodi Reynolds // August 14, 2019 at 5:28 pm // Reply

    Penny is not getting what she paid for like a lot of customers. I want what I paid for

  10. I want to know if there’s anything I can do when this whole thing came up with the missing local channels. I called and they offered me another recover at no charge and no exta contract. Then after it was put in they said I now have a two year contract when I never signed anything can I do anything about it. I haven’t been under a contract for a very long time.

    • You really BLEW IT.
      When ever you get an additional “RECEIVER” or almost any change in equipment, you get HOOKED with a NEW (2 YEAR) Contract.
      The installer will try and get you to sign the :Ticket”, Guess What, you just SIGNED a NEW 2 Year Contract. Sometimes they will claim your WORD is just as good.
      DON’T Ever Trust ANYTHING AT&T (DirecTV) SAYS !!!!!!!!!

    • Forgot, Look CLOSE at your NEW Monthly Bill. Bet it has an ADDITIONAL MONTHLY CHARGE of $ 7.00 for the NEW (so called “no charge”) additional Receiver.

  11. Tammy Watson // August 14, 2019 at 11:41 pm // Reply

    Agreed Direct tv sucks.Paying for a lot of worthless channels.Not happy about losing local channel and have to pay for sports channel don’t want.

  12. Spectrum will pay up to $500.00 on your Direct TV contract if you switch to Spectrum.

  13. Julio A Nunez // August 15, 2019 at 1:40 am // Reply

    But direct is not keeping up with deal u sign up for. I sign to have certain channels and direct is not keeping up with the contract u sign .
    Is that fraud in they part or breach of contract

  14. Okay when you take one of these deals and they don’t give you all the channels you signed up for aren’t they breaking the contract

  15. But when I sighed that two year deal all the stations I agreed to where there ?

  16. Jay DellaPorta // August 15, 2019 at 8:06 am // Reply

    Some other providers offer a contract buyout. If you have paperless billing with directv you will need to get a paper bill mailed to you so the service address will be on it. This is required for reimbursement. Directv treats you horribly once you cancel so you may want to ask for the paper bill before cancelling.

  17. Michaela Lafleur // August 15, 2019 at 10:23 am // Reply

    They try to charge you a early termination fee when you move from one house to another even through you still are reconnecting them. It happen to me.

  18. Tonja Payne // August 15, 2019 at 4:42 pm // Reply

    Once you move and you are a previous subscriber they only offer to your is a two year contract. Not to mention direct TV increase your bill for less amount of channels you previously sign up for. Nfl ticket was add automatically to my contract without my permission. I had cancelled this months before the contract has ended But yet I had to go through the Hassel of going through a different contact to get it canceled again. I am not happy.

  19. How are our monthly fees going to be adjusted when we are paying for things we are no longer receiving?

  20. Robert Barton // August 15, 2019 at 7:14 pm // Reply

    The FCC needs to get involved

  21. How is this not a breach on their part , we are paying for this amd now I see that they took the NFL channel away without notice.

  22. Cheryl Horne // August 15, 2019 at 9:41 pm // Reply

    But in the contract agreement we was told we would get CBS which we are not currently getting it

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