Unwanted sales calls lead to $3.2-million settlement

Federal government to DirecTV and Comcast cable: What part of Do Not Call didn’t you understand?

Satellite television provider DirecTV Inc. agreed to pay $2.31 million to settle charges that it made more than 1 million calls to its customers who had -- as was their right -- placed themselves on a Do Not Call list, the Federal Trade Commission said Thursday.

And why did the company make the calls? To ask the customers to remove themselves from the list, the agency said.

“The prerecorded message,” the government said in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, “told persons who received the calls that ‘from time to time, [DirecTV] extend[s] exciting offers to our loyal customers like you. But because you are on the DirecTV Do Not Call list, we are not able to contact you for these exciting offers.’ ”


The message instructed call recipients to press 1 to remove themselves from the list.

In a separate action, cable provider Comcast Corp. agreed to pay $900,000 for alleged Do Not Call infractions.

The FTC accused both companies of violating its Telemarketing Sales Rule, which says a company cannot make unsolicited calls to customers who have asked them to stop.

Neither company admitted wrongdoing in the settlements.

DirecTV, based in El Segundo, declined to be interviewed but said in a statement that it conducted the 2007 phone campaign “to determine whether we had correctly recorded customers’ do-not-call status.”

The settlement amount was dwarfed by a $5.3-million penalty paid in 2005 by a company charged under Do Not Call.

That company: DirecTV.