Here’s what happened with DirecTV – Smart Circle at Sam’s Club

When I enter a Sam’s Club, or any membership based shopping club, I expect a certain level of protection from fraud from 3rd party vendors in the store, especially from vendors that are doing promotions with the club directly.

On Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, I was approached by Sales rep at Sam’s Club located at 1725 34th Street N., St. Petersburg, FL 33713. JP (the rep) told me that DirecTV was doing a promotion with Brighthouse and Verizon. Customers could keep current internet and switch to DirecTV and save significantly. I told him what my current internet-tv bundle was and he said that my internet alone with Brighthouse would remain at $40 ($39.99 to be exact)/mo and that DirecTv would cost 56.99/mo for the first year and $91.99/mo for the second year. I again asked if he was sure about my internet remaining with Brighthouse and being $40/ month unbundled for the 30 Mbps high speed internet I currently had. Please note, he specifically asked me which internet speed/bundle I currently had and told me what the new internet-only price would be with Brighthouse, while saying that DirecTv and Brighthouse were working together on this deal.

As told to me by JP, the new configuration would save me approximately $40/mo the first year and be about $7/mo less than my current costs in the second year. When he told me that part of the discount was for paying via auto pay, I again asked about the internet remaining with Brighthouse and if I would now have to make separate payments to both Brighthouse and DirecTV, since DirecTV was automatically withdrawing the TV portion of the bill. I was once again assured that even though I was splitting the internet and TV, DirecTV was working with Brighthouse to bring this deal to Sam’s Club members. They were also doing a similar deal with Verizon customers, and at this point John directed my attention to a computer screen nearby with a page advertising a DirecTv/Verizon deal, branded with both logos visible on the screen. I assume (now) this was to support his claim that DirecTv was indeed working in conjunction with both these companies.

Because of these repeated assurances that my unbundled internet would cost $40/mo with Brighthouse and JP’s assurance that he knew this because DirecTv was working with Brighthouse on this deal for Sam’s Club members, I signed up for the service. Mind you, I’m a skeptic, so when I began this conversation with the rep, I really didn’t believe he would be able to save me money over my current Brighthouse plan. So once he had shown me that the plan would indeed be cheaper, I felt it would be silly to reject it at that point. He had indeed shown that he could save me money as he claimed he would.

On Tuesday, once the DirecTv was installed, I called Brighthouse to discontinue the cable TV service and was told that the unbundled 30 Mbps Internet service was $75/mo. Which means that I am saving less than $10/mo the 1st year (maybe not even that after taxes) and will be paying $27 more per month the 2nd year. They also informed me that they were definitely not involved in any promotions with DirecTv or Sam’s Club.

Needless to say, I would not have signed up for this had the person representing DirecTv not blatantly and repeatedly lied to me. By assuring me that DirecTv was working with Brighthouse, he falsely presented himself as being able to speak to Brighthouse costs as if he were representing them as well. This is clearly fraudulent.

I now realize that this was a Smart Circle employee, not a DirecTv or Sam’s representative. Yet all of the material I received said DirecTv or DirecTv for Sam’s Club Members. The only way I discovered he was not with DirecTv is when I called the number on the DirecTv for Sam’s Club members pamphlet that I received when I signed up in order to complain on Tue, Nov 26th and the phone was answered by Smart Circle.

I am currently trying to get some resolution to this matter. I would like to give DirecTv/Smart Circle a chance to make things right and at least deliver on the same amount of savings that I was promised in order to entice me to sign up for the package in the first place. There is nothing that I can expect BrightHouse to do about their billing. They were not involved in the matter at all and I cannot expect them to change their pricing because a DirecTv/Smart Circle Representative committed fraud.

UPDATE:

I am canceling the DirecTV within the 24 hour grace period. Brighthouse is reinstating my service with them at no extra cost and no hassles whatsoever. They were the most understanding reps I spoke with all day. I would advise people approached by any DirecTV Sales reps to tell them to go fuck themselves. to walk away without response.

FURTHER UPDATE:

Just spoke with someone from the Office of the President of DirecTV (I sent an email to a VP). I will still be canceling the service, but they are now at least doing their best to be sure that I’m not charged anything and that the contract is canceled without penalty and my installation fee is reimbursed. They also assured me that they will be sending the information to their dealer services department in order to be sure it doesn’t happen again. They were surprised to hear that Smart Circle had been accused of the same behavior in another local Sam’s Club, so perhaps they will re-think allowing that dealer to continue to represent them. We’ll see. I remain skeptical.

FINAL UPDATE:

Well, Smart Circle contacted me the week after Thanksgiving with all sorts of apologies for their representative misleading me. They sent me a $200 check as an apology. I also still received the $200 Sam’s Gift card that was part of the original deal with DirecTv. So in the long run I came out $400 ahead….at least until I have to remove the damn dish from my roof and patch the screw holes.