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"Fine Print" Rob Lowe? DirecTV Sued for False Advertising

Looks like the newest version of Rob Lowe is a dude with his pants on fire.

The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that they are charging DirecTV Inc. with false advertising, saying the satellite cable provider intentionally deceived millions of consumers about the cost of its services.

You’ve probably seen the ads in question: the off-beat campaign featured actor Rob Lowe as multiple “versions” of himself: a screwball version (“Scrawny Arms” Rob Lowe, “Meathead” Rob Lowe) who gets crappy cable, and the handsome actor version as the savvy DirecTV customer.

Turns out he isn’t so savvy: the FTC contends that DirecTV straight up lied about its discount 12-month programming package. The ads failed to mention that the deal required a two-year contract, nor did it make clear that the cost of the package would increase by up to $45 more per month in the second year; the campaign also hid the fact that heavy cancellation fees – up to $480 – would apply to anyone who tried to cancel after seeing the second-year costs.

The FTC alleges that this kind of false advertising starts way back in 2007 and continues today. The head of the agency’s consumer protection bureau, Jessica Rich, said the issue was informed choices: “Companies can’t hide important information from consumers to trick them into buying goods and services — and that’s what we allege DirecTV did.” The FTC said they will seek compensation for affected consumers, which they say is a “large portion” of DirecTV customers.

DirecTV, of course, denies the charges. But this isn’t the first time DirecTV has run afoul of the FTC. The company paid a $5.3 million settlement in 2005 over telemarketing calls. Four years later, they paid a $2.3 million settlement – for doing the same thing.

Read the full press release from the FTC here.

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