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 Cable Service Complaints
Of the various cable and satellite service complaints, the most common are:
- Billing disputes
- Rate increases
- Interruption of service
Contact your cable or satellite company first with complaints. The telephone number for your service provider should be on your bill.
When Your Cable Company Doesn’t Fix the Problem
If you’re not satisfied with your cable or satellite company's response, contact a third party. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and local franchising authorities regulate cable and satellite television services.
- Local franchising authorities regulate certain aspects of the cable television industry. They're municipal, county, or government organizations that operate at a local or state level. The name of the franchising authority may be on the front or back of your cable bill.
- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulates cable and satellite services to protect consumers.
- Public Utility Commissions (PUC) handle some cable and satellite issues at the state level. Find your state PUC through the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. They can handle issues including:
- Stand-alone satellite TV billing, rates, and programming
- Installation of non-bundled service
- Stand-alone cable TV service, rates, and programming (not including basic tier)
File a Complaint Letter
A complaint letter serves as a written record of your complaint to the cable or satellite company. In addition to mailing your complaint, you can copy and paste it into the company's "Contact Us" form. For help writing a complaint letter, use USAGov’s sample complaint letter template.
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.
If you have issues with your phone company's products, services, or billing, take these steps to resolve your complaint:
Identify the Phone Service Problem
As a home telephone or mobile customer, you may have experienced one or more of the following issues:
"Slamming and cramming" - These are illegal changes made to your phone service by a phone company. "Slamming" is when your phone company switches your phone service without your permission. "Cramming" occurs when companies add charges to your phone bill without your permission.
"Bill shock" - This is a sudden and unexpected increase in monthly wireless bills. This increase is not caused by a change in service plans.
False or misleading advertisements - These can include a range of misrepresented services. For example, you may have an "unlimited" mobile plan and aren’t receiving the services you paid for.
Contact Your Phone Company
First, try to resolve your problem by contacting your phone company. Check your billing statement or look online for a customer service number for your telephone company.
Also, consider writing a letter. It can serve as a record of your complaint to the phone company. If you need help, use USA.gov’s sample consumer complaint letter to draft your letter or email. You can also copy and paste your complaint into your phone company's "Contact Us" form.
Get Help from a Third Party for Your Phone Company Complaint
For problems with your wireless contract or bill, file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The FCC cannot handle complaints about third-party billing companies or phone equipment. This includes issues with ringtones and voicemail services.
Register with the National Do Not Call Registry
The National Do Not Call Registry lets you limit the telemarketing calls you receive. Stop unwanted sales calls by registering your phone number:
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. Visit DoNotCall.gov or call 1-888-382-1222 to verify the status of, or unsubscribe, your phone number on the registry.
Placing your phone number on this national registry will stop telemarketing sales calls. But you might still receive calls from scammers and robocallers. Some telemarketing calls are still permitted. You may still receive phone calls from:
- Political organizations
- Telephone surveyors
- Some organizations with which you have a relationship
Some states have their own Do Not Call registries. Contact your state consumer protection office to find out if your state has its own Do Not Call list and how you can add yourself to it.
File a Complaint
You may file a complaint if your phone number has been on the national registry for 31 days. File a complaint online or at 1-888-382-1222. Include the date of the illegal call, phone number, and the company's name in your complaint. You can also file a complaint about recorded messages or robocalls.
Visit the telemarketer website if you want to subscribe to the Do Not Call Registry. Representatives of telemarketing companies can also get information on compliance issues on the website.
Do you need help?
Ask us any question about the U.S. government for free.
We'll get you the answer or tell you where to find it.
Last Updated: October 3, 2019