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Knoxville couple charged for unwanted pay per view movies

WATE 6 On Your Side staff - KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A Knoxville couple's monthly AT&T bill more than doubled recently.

Last spring, the Henegar family dropped their cable service and switched to satellite television. Their bill for is typically $194 a month, so the couple was shocked when they received December's bill for $744.11.

"I saw a lot of charges and I didn't know what they were," said Jane Henegar.

After Jane Henegar called about the charges, she discovered more than $400 were charged for adult videos, but the couple says they don't even know how to program pay-per-view channels.

"I know I hadn't watched movies like that and she hadn't. We have a dog and I know he don't watch them," said Delmar Henegar, laughing.

Their bills showed pay per view charges starting on October 7 and ending on November 13. The videos were watched at around 3 a.m. The couple have no children and have had no out-of-town guests visit in the last few months.

Jane Henegar said she called AT&T customer service to contest the charges. She said customer service had her check the ID and serial numbers associated with her television and the card number that's part of the satellite receiver. She was told the charges originated from the television.

Insisting she pay the bulk of the pay per view charges, Jane Henegar said customer service offered her credits to ease the financial burden.

"They offered me four credits and I refused them,' said Jane Henegar. "I didn't watch them and didn't think I needed to pay for someone else's criminal act."

John Passalacqua, an experienced satellite installer, said unless someone hacked into the couple's system, he's at a loss to explain how the pay per view charges could have been a mistake. However, he said there are ways to block unwanted charges. After the satellite box is installed, Passalacqua said you can go into the menu and lock out all the paid per view channels or even hide adult channels.

Frustrated with customer service after arguing with them for weeks, Jane Henegar said she went directly to AT&T's office in North Knoxville where she made her plea in person. She said they listened and her pay per view charges were dropped.

AT&T issued the following statement:

We worked with the customers to resolve their billing concerns and apologized for any inconvenience this may have caused. Customer service is our top priority, and we're glad the issue has been resolved.

With the Parental Controls feature – available with every DIRECTV receiver, mobile subscription, and dotcom account – it's easy to limit or block any programming customers consider inappropriate. Every show has a ratings tab on its information page that details the show's overall message and contents (sexual content, violence, commercialism, etc.) to help customers determine whether programs are appropriate.

In addition, the feature lets you restrict unsupervised TV viewing based on rating, block specific channels, limit viewing times, and set spending limits for DIRECTV CINEMA movies or live Pay Per View events.


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