There’s a phase we consumers are supposed to know by heart: caveat emptor, which is Latin for “Let the buyer beware.”
That may be true with DirecTV, which was accused this week by the Federal Trade Commission of deceptively advertising a discounted year-long programming package.
The FTC says in its complaint that DirecTV, the country’s largest provider of satellite television services, wasn’t upfront about the following:
— To get the 12-month deal, consumers had to sign up for a two-year contract.
— The cost of the special deal increases by up to $45 per month in the second year.
— Early cancellation results in fees of up to $480 if consumers bail before the end of the two-year period.
— The offer for free premium channels for three months requires consumers to proactively cancel to avoid automatic charges on their credit or debit cards.
“DIRECTV sought to lock customers into longer and more expensive contracts and premium packages that were not adequately disclosed,” said FTC chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “It’s a bedrock principle that the key terms of an offer to a consumer must be clear and conspicuous, not hidden in fine print.”
DirecTV denied any wrongdoing.
As The Washington Post’s Andrea Peterson reports, a company representative said in a statement: “The FTC’s decision is flat-out wrong and we will vigorously defend ourselves, for as long as it takes.”
Let’s talk today at noon ET. What’s most recent on my mind is the death of Thomas Stanley, co-author of “The Millionaire Next Door.” If you’ve read the book, I’d like to hear your thoughts on Stanley’s work. Here’s my tribute to Stanley’s life-long research to help people understand who the rich really are.
And, as usual, I’ll be taking your personal finance questions.
Here’s the link to join the conversation.
Now that my children are teenagers I’m not badgered to see every Disney movie that comes out.
I’m also not pressured into spending money on whatever merchandise the company pushes when it puts princess movies or other films they release. Still, I feel for the other parents out there.
But now Disney is going after them, too.
I had to read it twice when The Post’s Drew Harwell wrote that ahead of Disney’s release of its live-action movie “Cinderella,” there’s a “$4,595 pair of ‘glass slippers’ designed by Jimmy Choo” for sale at boutiques in New York, Paris and Milan.
For $599.95 you can buy a “Cinderella Collection” crystal necklace. A mere $75 will get you a pair of “Cinderella and Prince Charming” champagne flutes. There’s a $199.95 fine-china tea set. A makeup line by Estee Lauder’s M.A.C. Cosmetics sold out within hours of its debut. Kohl’s will have $60 organza women’s dresses and sequined sweaters, Harwell reports.
Harwell writes: “For Disney’s third princess-themed mega-film in two years, the traditionally kid-centric media juggernaut and its licensees are making a big play for women’s spending, hoping ‘modern-day princesses’ will spring for fairy-tale wear not for their daughters or little sisters, but for themselves.”
I don’t want to look or feel like a princess for these prices.
What drives us to spend money on a fantasy? Send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tinder rolled out a new premium service for its matchmaking mobile dating app that caught some flak because people 30 and older are being charged more than younger users.
The company’s upgraded services cost $9.99 a month. But if you’re older than 30 you’ll pay $19.99.
So for last week’s Color of Money Question of the Week, I asked: Have you paid for a dating app or upgrade or online matching service, and is it worth the money?
Peter wrote: “I want someone like me, responsible with their money. A dating app is a dating app. I’m seeing the same people on different sites. Tried a dating service and paid a lot. It was not worth it. The people I got matched with were of no better quality than the free dating apps.”
One reader wondered about the legality of charging older customers more. “I think their pricing policy would qualify and justify a very nice and rewarding discrimination complaint,” wrote John Gard of Columbia, Md.
I was touched by the comment by Deborah from Winchester, Va., who wrote: “I’ve paid for a number of dating services and still have not found anything about the process to be truly helpful to finding a suitable partner. Trying to find a true relationship amongst thousands of strangers has terrible odds. I’m older (57), highly educated, extremely healthy and in a pretty rural location. Ultimately online dating does not work for older folks who are less inclined toward numerous casual meet-ups and are really looking for something worthwhile. There really needs to be some other method than putting ourselves up on the market, for a subscription price and hoping that love comes out of it. It’s sad and disheartening.”
Readers may write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or email@example.com. Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read previous Color of Money columns, go to www.postbusiness.com.