Phone and TV Complaints

Learn what to do when you want to complain about a phone, cable, or satellite television company.

File Complaints with Cable or Satellite Television Providers

Do you have a complaint about your cable or satellite company's programs or services? To help resolve these issues, find out how to file a complaint:

Common Complaints

While customers can face various cable and satellite service issues, these are some of the most common:

  • Billing disputes
  • Rate increases
  • Interruption of service

You should always contact your cable or satellite company first if you have a complaint. The telephone number for your service provider should be on your bill.  

Contact a Third Party

If you are not satisfied with your cable or satellite company's response, you should contact a third party. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and local franchising authorities are responsible for enforcing a variety of cable and satellite television regulations. 

  • Local franchising authority - This is your local municipal, county or other government organization that regulates certain aspects of the cable television industry at the state or local level. The name of the franchising authority may be on the front or back of your cable bill.
    • If this information is not on your bill, contact your service provider or your local town or city hall. 
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - The FCC has designed enforcement mechanisms to protect consumers if cable and satellite regulations are not followed.
    • You can file a complaint and learn about consumer issues, including cable and satellite television, through the Consumer Help Center. For general questions, call 1-888-225-5322.
  • Public Utility Commission (PUC) - This is responsible for some cable and satellite issues handled at the state level, which include 1) stand-alone satellite TV billing, rates and programming 2) installation of non-bundled service and 3) stand-alone cable TV service, rates and programming (not including basic tier).

File a Complaint Letter

A written letter is a good strategy as you will have a record of your communication with the cable or satellite company. You can also copy and paste your complaint into the company's "Contact Us" form.

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Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

Mandatory arbitration clauses are phrases written into contracts that state that if you have a dispute with a company, you must resolve it through arbitration. These clauses can prevent you from filing a lawsuit against a company. Arbitration clauses are fairly common in automotive, credit card, and cell phone contracts. But now, they are appearing in website terms and conditions statements, coupons, or corporate social media profiles. While arbitration can be less expensive, it is sometimes seen as unfair to make arbitration a requirement before a negative incident has happened or knowing how serious the problem is. Also, the decisions are binding, so you can’t appeal the decision, even if the company was severely negligent.

Before you sign a contract or even use a website, read the contract or terms of service for mentions of “arbitration”, “binding arbitration” or “resolution programs”; this language is often in the fine print of the contract and can be easily missed. Also, note that some companies may let you opt-out of these clauses, if you do so within 30 days.

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Phone Company Complaints

If you are experiencing a problem with your phone company's products, services, or billing, take these steps to resolve your complaint: 

Identify the Problem

As a home telephone or mobile customer, you may have experienced any of the following issues:  

  • "Slamming and cramming" - "Slamming" happens when a phone company illegally switches your phone service without your permission. "Cramming" occurs when companies add charges to your phone bill without your permission.    
  • "Bill shock" - A sudden and unexpected increase in monthly wireless bills that is not caused by a change in service plans.
  • False or misleading advertisements - You may have purchased an "unlimited" mobile plan from your phone company, but didn't get what you paid for.

Contact Your Phone Company

First, try to resolve your problem with your phone company. Phone numbers for telephone companies are commonly found on their billing statements. If you are unsure how to contact the company, you can search for this information using a telecommunications company locator.

Get Help from a Third Party

File a Complaint Letter

A written letter is a good strategy as you will have a record of your communication with the phone company. You may refer to a sample consumer complaint letter to draft your complaint letter or email. You can also copy and paste your complaint into a phone company's "Contact Us" form.

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Register with the National Do Not Call Registry

The federal government's Do Not Call Registry allows you to limit the telemarketing calls you receive by registering your phone number. Stop unwanted sales calls by registering your phone number:

  • Online: Visit DoNotCall.gov
  • By phone: Call 1-888-382-1222 or TTY: 1-866-290-4236

If you register online, you will receive an email to complete your request. You must click on the link in that email within 72 hours in order for your registration to take effect.

Placing your number on this national registry will stop most telemarketing calls, but not all of them. Calls that are still permitted include those from:

  • Political organizations
  • Charities
  • Telephone surveyors
  • Some organizations with which you have a relationship

Visit DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 to verify the status of, or unsubscribe, your phone number on the registry.

Contact your state consumer protection office to find out if your state has it's own Do Not Call (DNC) list and how you can add yourself to it.

File a Complaint

If you receive telemarketing calls after your phone number has been in the national registry for 31 days, you can file a complaint using the same website and phone numbers. To file a complaint, provide the date of the telemarketing call, phone number, and name of the company that called you. You may also file a complaint if you receive a call that used a recorded message instead of a live person, even if your phone number is not on the registry.

For Businesses

If you represent a telemarketing company and would like information on compliance issues, or to subscribe to the Do Not Call Registry, visit the telemarketer website.

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Last Updated: May 24, 2017

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