AT&T refunds 83-year-old widow after $3k in charges for TV service she didn’t receive

Ardella Willison at home in Xenia. CONTRIBUTED

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Ardella Willison at home in Xenia. CONTRIBUTED

AT&T has agreed to refund an 83-year-old disabled widow who says she paid nearly $3,000 in charges for TV service she did not receive.

The company agreed to issue a check after being contacted by the Dayton Daily News.

Ardella Willison said DirecTV charged her about $90 per month for 32 months even though she had moved and cancelled her TV service, according to a complaint filed with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Willison, who moved to Xenia from Dayton, said she didn’t notice the charges until several months ago and filed a complaint to try to get refunded.

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"I mean $3,000 has a large impact on anyone — but you look at a disabled senior citizen on a fixed income and this has a large impact on her," said John Musto, an attorney representing Willison through the Greater Dayton Volunteer Lawyers Project.

AT&T, which owns DirecTV, told Willison it did not have a record of her cancelling her account or getting her equipment back.

But on Friday, AT&T told this newspaper her refund check was on the way.

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“Our advice to customers is to always keep record of your cancellation,” said an AT&T spokesperson. “In this case we didn’t have a record of the request in our system which caused the delay in resolving, but we were happy to get this resolved.”

Willison was one of about 1,069 consumers who last year filed complaints against cable and satellite TV providers with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

Willison ordered DirectTV in October 2015 when she lived on Marathon Avenue in Dayton.

Willison said she cancelled the service in January 2016 because she moved into senior housing in Xenia that does not allow satellite TV.

Willison said a worker in a DirecTV uniform driving a vehicle with a DirecTV logo picked up her equipment.

But Willison said she found out in October that DirecTV was still charging her every month for TV service. She says her caretaker discovered the charges.

In November, AT&T sent Willison a letter apologizing for any inconvenience she experienced but also stated there were no “notes” indicating any earlier request from her to cancel the account.

AT&T stated it could not confirm that a DirecTV technician collected her equipment. The company said it would not charge her for fees for not returning her equipment but did not agree to refund her money.

But Musto said Willison returned the equipment and she should get back at least $2,600, even if she had to pay an early termination fee.

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Musto said they were trying to get the issue resolved through the mediation process with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

On Friday, Musto said, “I am encouraged to hear that AT&T has promised to return Ms. Willison’s money.”

But AT&T on Friday has agreed to send her a refund, settling the matter.

Last year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office received 1,069 complaints about cable and satellite TV services, including about 133 from consumers in Butler, Champaign, Clark, Greene, Miami, Montgomery and Warren counties.

Consumers should always contact their cable providers first when there are billing issues, and it’s a good idea to take and keep notes of the conversations, said Beth Gianforcaro, spokesperson for the Office of the Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost.

Consumers also are encouraged to ask the cable providers to put notes in their system of what was said to the consumer, she said.

Consumers should read their contracts to make sure all verbal promises end up in the contract, she said.

If consumers are unable to resolve disputes with the companies directly, they can contact the attorney general’s office to file a consumer complaint, Gianforcaro said.

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