Dish Network resorts to extortion — Just to be petty

As near as I can tell from my sloppy record keeping, I started using Dish Network in early 2003. The service was significantly cheaper than my local cable company at the time, and since I owned the house the dish itself wouldn’t be an issue. Over the next 11 years, my bill ranged between 70 and 110 dollars a month, depending on which services I currently had set up. For the sake of my argument here, I’m going to round that all to 85 a month over the course of 11 years. That’s about $11,220 I paid to Dish Network over the years. My payments were on time, and I never had an interruption in service. I was really their ideal customer.

Then I moved. Dish Network doesn’t provide any sort of internet service in my area (they do offer a partnership through Hughes net, but it is ridiculously expensive), so I had to go with someone else. In mid March 2014, I called to cancel my service. The deals they were offering me by the end of that call were truly unbelievable: $19.99 a month for a year with free HBO/Cinemax and my current top 150 plan. If I hadn’t had to go elsewhere for internet, I would have jumped all over that. I told as much to the kind representative I was speaking to.

During my conversation with the representative while trying to cancel the service, she said that I “may have equipment that is subject to return”. I asked for her to verify if the equipment needed to be returned or not because I was going to be moving out in less than two weeks, and she said -and this is a direct quote- “If any of your equipment needs to be returned, you will receive a return shipping box in 3 to 5 business days.” So I held on to the equipment. After a month passed I logged in to my Dish account. Current balance: a credit for 22 bucks and change. No note of equipment needing to be returned. So that’s that.

Then in June I get a bill from Dish Network. Note that this is three full months after my account had been closed. My current balance is 77.75. So I sent an email to their customer care department that said:

You sent me an email saying that my account (which has been closed for several months now) has a bill due. I am not able to login with my account number. I am also not able to login with the username that I used there for several years. I also can’t login with my phone number. How am I supposed to view/pay this alleged bill?

Around 1am the next day, customer care responded with the following:

Dear Donnie,

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. We understand your concern regarding your account and we’d be glad to assist you. We do apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this may have caused.

Our record shows that your account has been disconnected and your online account is no longer accessible 60 days after disconnection.

However, you still have a ending balance of $77.75 that includes your two Unreturned Equipment Fee plus taxes. For a complete list of payment options available and instructions on how you can pay your bill online, please visit

If you need further assistance, you have an option to visit to start a live chat with a Customer Service Representative.

Thank you for your email.

So now I’m getting irritated at the unreturned equipment fee showing up three months after the service was cancelled. But I also figured it was cheaper in the long run (factoring in hits against my credit) to just pay the bill than to try to argue it. So I tried to pay online through the link they provided in that email reply. It didn’t work. I can’t log in to pay a bill because my account has been closed for more than 60 days. That’s probably even more irritating than the 77 bucks was in the first place. So I respond to their email with the following:

I do appreciate the response, but I disagree that the link listed below ( ) will allow me to pay my bill online as suggested in your response. I can’t register an account to make a payment for exactly the same reason that I was not able to use my old account number to login -which was the reason I contacted you to begin with.

Please provide me with instructions on how I can make this payment online.

And as long as I’m hitting on inaccurate information in your response, I’d also like to mention that when you say, “you still have a ending balance of $77.75 that includes your two Unreturned Equipment Fee plus taxes” I’d also like to point out that when I disconnected this service -three full months ago- your agent said, and I will quote, “if any of your equipment needs to be returned, you will receive a return shipping box in three to five business days”. Sixty days later, when I still had not received a return shipping box, I threw the equipment in the trash assuming that it was not something you wanted returned. It was, after all, several years old. Now three months -or approximately 60 business days- later you are asking me to pay for the equipment. Fine. As long as you provide me with a way to make this payment online I will do so. But know this: I will never again consider Dish Network for any service. After having been a customer for many years, I really feel that this is a very petty way to be treated.

Thank you for your time.


Which they responded to two days later with the following:

Dear Donnie,

Thank you for your reply. We apologize for the confusion and inconvenience this may have caused but we’d be glad to assist you regarding your payment and equipment.

Please be advised that below is the address on where you can mail your payment:

Dept 0063
Palatine, IL

Additionally, mailed payments may take 7 to 10 business days for us to receive and post to your account.

You may also process your payment through the following options:

Toll-free Automated Phone System: 1-866-263-1911

Credit Card Payments: 1-800-894-9131

Moreover, for the type of your receiver, the shipping box will be automatically sent to the address on file on the 36th day (timing based on holidays/weekends) from deactivation date and we have send the return kit has been delivered to your address last May 12th.

For immediate assistance, you can visit to start a live chat with a Customer Service Representative.

Thank you for your email.


Laine A.B / CG0

TID:OR – Infiniti


The bold portion there is mine. It says that the box will be shipped on the 36th day after deactivation, meaning that the representative that I spoke to initially flat-out lied to me. What’s more is the provided options for payment seem sketchy at best. I’m supposed to ship a check to “Chicago Dept 063”? That doesn’t say anything about Dish Network in it, nor are either of the phone numbers the famous 1-800-333-DISH number that is in all the commercials. The whole thing stinks of fraud. Plus they seemed to have missed my point entirely. I was trying to be cordial, but also get the point across that they shouldn’t make me pay the 77 bucks. Maybe I needed to be less subtle?

At this point I debated simply not paying it and turning this over to the better business bureau. I was plainly lied to about this. They didn’t provide me a return shipping box when they say they did. I attempted to pay online and they would not accept the payment. Dish Network is 100% wrong on every count here. But… They are holding my credit report hostage. If I don’t pay it, I get a black mark on my credit report, and they know that. So they’re willing to lose any potential for future business with me over $77. That is about as petty as anything I’ve ever heard of a national company doing.

But thankfully, I am not without recourse. I may not have the clout of Dish Network, but what I do have is the ability to post what really happened, use words like lie, fraud, extortion, and scam to make sure that if anyone ever searches for “Dish Network scam” they will land here on my site and be able to read about just how petty this giant can be. And as the saying goes, if I can stop just one person from getting Dish Network’s service, my work is done. Because if I can get through to just one person, this $77 will have cost this media giant over $10,000.

So I called the 1-800-333-DISH number and made a payment by phone -using their actual phone number, and not the questionable numbers they sent to me. But I take solace in the fact that if anyone ever visits:

They will get to read all about it. That’s not counting the potential future hits I’ll get when someone searches for “Dish Network” with any of the big terms “Scam, extortion, lies”, etc. Plus I’m going to go plug the article on social networking sites to make sure that I get the word out.

Enjoy the ill-gotten $77, Dish Network. I hope the price you pay for it is hefty.

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