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Avoid door-to-door salesmen when considering new TV service


A elderly Chandler woman says a door-to-door salesman tricked her into switching from cable to satellite when that wasn't her intent.

These type of door-to-door salespeople work for companies that are authorized, third-party dealers for satellite providers. There are lots of these companies and reps all over the Phoenix area.

They do provide a service, but the opportunity for confusion, especially when seniors are involved, makes it a risky way of doing business.

Anne Roemer says she was taken back when a man walked up to her Chandler home asking if she was satisfied with her TV service.

"I noticed he had Cox, DirecTV, and Dish embroidered on his shirt, and he said 'Well, I'm not selling anything,'" Roemer said.

Roemer says the man then went to the house next door, where her elderly mother lives. She only knows that because a week later she says she saw Dish Network equipment on her mother's house. She says her mom has been a happy Cox customer for years.

"They didn't tell us they were switching it to Dish, I thought they were working for Cox," Ollie Mae Radebaugh said.

Radebaugh says she was having a little trouble with her picture quality. She says she only let the man into her home because he specifically said he worked for Cox and could help fix the problem. It turns out the man was a sales rep for a company called Direct Communications, an authorized retailer for Dish Network. He was canvassing the area looking to sign up new customers.

"They never said anything about Dish," Radebaugh said.

Radebaugh ended up canceling her Cox account and signing up with Dish Network but says she never wanted to do that. Now if she wants to cancel, she says Dish Network will charge her a $480 early termination fee. Radebaugh says the rep never gave her a contract and misrepresented himself. She's worried for other seniors.

"They better not open the door to them," Radebaugh said.

Her daughter is not happy with the salesman's tactics.

"You're not addressing yourself, truly disclosing who you are," Roemer said.

CBS 5 News contacted Dish Network, the company canceled the contract, with no fees charged to Radebaugh, and she switched back to Cox. Direct Communications told CBS 5 News that this dispute was a misunderstanding, they thought Radebaugh wanted to switch to Dish.

It is precisely because of this type of potential confusion that CBS 5 News suggests seniors not talk about their TV service with strangers who show up at their door (they should also refrain from talking to any unfamiliar salespeople offering other services, i.e. home security systems).

Consumers are advised to call cable and satellite providers and discuss any potential change in services directly with them.

Copyright 2014 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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