Call Kurtis: The truth about auto-renew

by Kurtis Ming, CBS 13 KOVR

When a Lodi man realized he’d been paying for a basketball TV package he didn’t want for a decade, he called Kurtis to investigate.

Fred Bunch said he ordered a single year of DirecTV’s NBA League Pass ‘ but has been auto-renewed without his permission for a decade.

‘Evidently it becomes automatic,’ he said.

Bunch has been getting charged an extra amount on his bill every year during basketball season ‘ going back to 2001.

‘We subscribed for a half season or three quarters of a season, and the billing kept coming,’ he said.

But Bunch and his wife didn’t notice their bill change from $165 to $190 dollars until this NBA season.

‘They put a little blurb on the side on their bill, it’s not very prominent,’ he said.

That blurb ‘ on the sidebar of his bill ‘ reading ‘we have renewed your subscription.’ automatically.

‘To me it’s kind of a ‘gotcha,” he said.

When customers sign up for sports packages from DirecTV ‘ they are automatically renewed each year when that sports season begins again. unless they cancel.

Richard Holober of the Consumer Federation of California has been critical of DirecTV’s auto-renew policies.

‘It’s a very sleazy way that products are sold,’ he said.

Holober said companies, including DirecTV, are banking on the fact people will forget to cancel.

‘If they get one extra year out of you that you didn’t plan to pay for, they’ve made a lot of money off that,’ he said.

DirecTV defended its billing saying, ‘A customer’s failure to review their monthly billing statement does not qualify them for a refund,’ but told CBS13, ‘Mr. Bunch has been a excellent, long-time customer and we made a big exception in his case though he was sent multiple notices.’

The company agreed to refund Bunch $2,274.90 for the past ten years of service.

‘I feel like I’ve been heard,’ said Bunch.

DirecTV offers a ‘Do Not Renew’ feature if customers ask for it. A company spokesman told us they had no record of Bunch asking for it ‘ that’s why he was signed up for the auto-renewal.

Consumer advocates said it’s still important to review your bills each month for any charges that may be inaccurate.