How to Break DirecTV’s Contract for Free

So I recently signed up for AT&T and DirecTV in order to take advantage of a few deals that would’ve essentially made DirecTV free. Despite being a cordcutter, it was a decent idea at the time.

I quickly sobered up after spending two months dealing with the ridiculously bad customer service between the companies that advertise themselves as being a family but don’t act like much of one.

Because of this, I decided to cancel my service. Of course, DirecTV tried to hold me to the contract and warned me of an early termination fee of over $400. Having trolled many a contract in my life, I gladly accepted their challenge and set a goal to break the contract for free. Here’s what I learned:

Being Overcharged and Bounced Around

I spent some time working in the trenches of call centers in my teens and early 20s. I’m familiar with how horrific working conditions can be in these places and how negative the atmosphere often is. This is why I typically avoid wasting any time calling a company’s customer service.

However, it was necessary to continue calling both AT&T and DirecTV in order to get the advertised deal you would think would be easy to do in their systems. I called both companies a total of 4 times before finally actually getting the unlimited data plan added to my account. Each prior call I was told I’d have it (even was told in the store that’s what would happen), but in reality, none of these people followed through.

When I finally did get the plan, I had already been overcharged for two months of service. On top of this, I was told I couldn’t take advantage of the combined billing and accompanying discount because of the discount already added on my plan. This didn’t sit well with me.

I was completely polite with the customer service reps and even asked whether I’d be credited for the time I was overcharged, but it became clear AT&T only focuses on specific stats and the reps weren’t eager to refund me money I was rightfully due. Instead they acted as though it was my mistake to listen to the misinformation they gave out.

Being a whistleblower, I already knew how to raise the alarms and put the pressure on these companies who feel they can bully customers, so I wasted no time involving the government to strong arm these companies that feel they can strong arm me.

I also made sure to blast them on social media and every possible review site.

Involving the BBB and FCC

The basic idea is that neither DirecTV nor AT&T has their shit together, but they certainly don’t want the public to know it. Large corporations like this often spend a lot of time, money, and resources projecting the perfect image online in order to trick most people into signing up.

Fortunately, companies like the Better Business Bureau and Federal Communications Commission allow you to file complaints in the event you’re overcharged or have facts misrepresented to you, both of which were the case here. While some may tell you a contract is always binding, it’s quite simple to take a business to task for misrepresenting a contract.

I highly recommend involving companies like the BBB and FCC (or whatever the appropriate government regulator is) in any disputes with a corporation. This forces the company to respond, and you’ll get their “office of the president” instead of a normal customer service rep. The “office of the president” at any company is obviously not connecting you to anyone in the actual c-suite of a company. Instead, you get agents specially trained in handling escalated matters.

ATT Executive Appeals

Initially AT&T’s Executive Response team was unwilling to waver on anything, but after I continued upping the pressure, she eventually conceded that I was due a refund for being overcharged on my wireless bill and I was issued a refund:

ATT Executive Appeals1

Although given a refund from AT&T, even the “office of the president” was unable to do anything about DirecTV. Instead, she called everything valid and went so far as to close my case with the BBB and FCC, requiring me to reopen cases against DirecTV instead of AT&T, since, even though they’re subsidiaries of the same company, they operate separately in every aspect.

So, I had to start dealing with DirecTV’s “office of the president,” who also initially refused to budge on the early termination fee, despite my explanation that I would not be paying it.

DirecTV Office of the President

However, once I made it clear that there was no way the complaints with either consumer agency would be removed until they resolved my issue satisfactorily, DirecTV also caved and waived the early termination fee.

DirecTV Office of the President1

Consumer Have Rights

This blog is not meant to brag but rather to illustrate that you, as an American citizen, do not need to allow your life to be ruled by contracts. There is always a way around them.

I have no doubt some people will read this and think I’m shirking responsibilities or come up with some ridiculous reason why you should fulfill every contract, but that’s just not how the world works. People in power use the working class as resources and pawns, but we have more power than them. This company doesn’t care about me, and there’s no reason for me to care about them. Their in-store and phone reps directly lied to me on multiple occasions and misrepresented facts in order to take my money.

I work hard for my money, and I don’t appreciate dishonest business. I didn’t start the inevitable class-action lawsuit against these companies – I simply exercised my right to walk away from a bad deal.

Don’t ever allow these companies to tell you no and make you feel as though they have power over you or can force you to pay for misrepresented services. Defend every penny you earn and make sure to only give money to those who earn it.

AT&T and DirecTV are lying assholes. Unfortunately living in a van, AT&T is still a useful service, but DirecTV is part of a dying industry that provides no real value. Because of this, they needed to be terminated. If you ever need to terminate your contracts with either of these companies, make sure to play hardball and do not compromise. You don’t owe them anything.

Brian Penny VR HeadshotBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work appears in High Times, Huffington Post, Fast Company, The Street, and Hardcore Droid.


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Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

11 thoughts on “How to Break DirecTV’s Contract for Free

  • November 1, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Your post is exactly what I’m going through right now with the “2 year contract” I supposedly signed, which I probably did when they hooked up my DVR. What I’m mad about is that they give you a “great deal” the first year and now since i am locked into this 2-year thing, they can charge me more if they want; I have no choice and have to pay it, so I don’t want any part of them anymore. So basically what you are saying from the above so I don’t get charged the “early termination fee” is I need to get the BBB or FCC involved with it.

    • November 1, 2016 at 9:53 pm

      Yup. That’s the only way I was able to reach the proper people who could handle it, and they had record of me calling and trying to resolve it the nice way. Good luck.

  • November 2, 2016 at 8:06 am

    I am in the same situation with direct tv. I was promised a $99.00 channel rate. The channel actually charged is $125.00. I have called and chatted multiple times. I have multiple incident reports. I was even promised two credits of 25.00 with tax. When I got my bill after the promised refund the credit was only for $33.00, another direct lie from direct tv.

    I am also over the age of 55, a protected consumer, Is there an additional agency I can complain to including BBB and FCC?

    I think I am exploited and held “hostage” by direct tv. Not only was the promised rate never given they have charged a late fee of $5.00 per month as they delay and deceive.

    • November 2, 2016 at 8:26 am

      Contact your state Attorney General as well. Every consumer complaint each agency receives, the better picture they have of what’s happening. They won’t help one of us, but they’ll help 10,000 of us. Add your voice and trust the system to scare them.

  • December 29, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Same thing happened to me, after one year my cost for basic package almost doubled. Need to end this contract.

  • January 1, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    I was promised 2 $100 dollar visa gift cards if I signed with direct tv. This was only offered when after being on the phone with them for awhile and not really sold on going with direct tv. So the guy offered me 2 gift cards instead of one. Well in the end, I received 1 $100 gift cards and never got the other. when I called and complained they gave me the run around. They finally told me they would open an investigation. I gave up after that. I do not like Direct Tv. I want out of my contract.

  • January 4, 2017 at 12:18 am

    They gave me standard boxes instead of the Genie that was offered. They said that I would need to pay $299 for an upgrade on a box that I was already supposed to have received. On top of that, I’ve had service about 4 months and the receiver they sent is malfunctioning and I am expected to pay a tech to visit to fix it. Con artists that do not take accountability for the deceitful actions of their reps.

    • February 23, 2017 at 2:21 am

      I am also fighting Direct TV ECF. BBB had sighted with them. I have moved to a complex that does not allow any satellites. I was told that was my problem as they do service this area. Even my bank said they are disputing my claim as “Visa does not allow you to dispute ECF”. I will go to my bank again as they said they will add back on the $507 charge even though I returned the equipment! I feel I’m being railroaded. Office of the President said I had to pay. I cancelled the card they used but the bank said they could override and charge it. This will cause me to not be able to pay my rent and I just moved here. I’m on social security and don’t have anyone to help. I’m afraid of getting evicted. God I need your help.

      • February 28, 2017 at 7:46 pm

        I’m so sorry you’re going through that. You may try to crowdfund your rent. If the above still isn’t working, contact your state attorney general

  • March 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm

    I am going through this exact situation right now! Att and direct tv acted like they were one company but kept transferring me back and forth. What a nightmare!!!! Plus they couldn’t find me in their system for 3 days! Meanwhile they had already sent me a bill. After dealing with them for a week I called to cancel and they said they would be charging me a $460 ECF. I said absolutely not! They are escalating my claim as per the phone rep. I will take the info from your post, I hope it helps me.

  • March 21, 2017 at 12:25 am

    My bill was completely paid up & I was moving they told me they would put it on hold for six months while I found a place. When I moved they already had directv so I called to just end my service…they charged me $492.96 for service for 6 months that I NEVER even used….plus a $9.95 “convenience” fee to take my payment over the phone! What a flipping joke & a bunch of crooks!!!


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