WARNING: Make sure to Cancel Residential Service if you Upgrade to Business Service or Else!
Summary: After upgrading my Residential service to Business Service, I apparently failed to call to cancel the Residential service, which they tell me was mentioned during the sales call, but not in any of the email instructions or contracts that I received. Therefore in addition to the automated Business account billing, the automated billing of the Residential Service for $129/month continued each month until I happened to see it 20 months later. HughesNet will not refund the entire amount, stating “you should have called”, effectively creating a $2560 penalty, which would have continued to accumulate, I presume forever, until and unless I finally happened to see it and cancelled the account. All evidence at this point is that their policy in this event is to only offer a credit for the last month of service.
I spent several hours on the phone with various customer service personnel to have reached this situation. At one point, the most senior executive I was able to contact offered 9 months of refund instead of the actual 20 months I had paid, while they continued to state “you should have called and cancelled the residential account”.
From a “customer service” perspective, I found this to be appalling behavior, basically taking the approach “we are bigger than you, we can keep your money if we want even if we deliver exactly zero service in return, because we have a policy that disallows refunds over 3 months. You should have called.” I can only draw the conclusion that they do not care if I stay a Business customer or not.
From my perspective, I called HughesNet and asked the sales person if there was some way to increase the data limit, since the 50GB amount was getting used up quite before the end of the month and I was spending another significant percentage of the monthly fees in ‘data tokens’. The sales person advised me that I could upgrade to a business account which had a larger data allocation. I said that sounded great and agreed to proceed. It took a week or so to arrange the new installation since I am in a remote location, and during that time I needed the residential account so I did not cancel it. The installation technician came out and stated that the modem that I had (HT2000W) was the same Gen5 as residential, so he just reprovisioned that one to the business account (and just set the new modem and radio in their boxes on the floor in another pile of boxes in the garage). Since he didn’t hand me an old modem and say ‘return this’, and he didn’t say anything about canceling the prior account (which I assume he knew I had since he reused the modem), and since I did not receive any installation checklist that reminded me of the utter importance of cancelling the prior account (or else), and in the absence of any follow up from any sales person, in the press of business I didn’t call to cancel the account. I upgraded to business service February 7 2018. The residential account continued to bill monthly until I discovered it 20 months later on November 1, 2019.
Once I discovered it (a new accountant ask me about the dual HughesNet charge), I thought, oh shoot, they kept billing that thing, there will probably be a penalty fee, a hundred bucks or so. I called my business account rep, who listened to the story and said, I’m in the Business group, I can’t do anything, call Residential customer service. I called Residential customer service and explained what had happened (Mary Lou, case 124-861-610). She said “Oh I can help you,…there the residential service is now cancelled. We will send a box out to return the modem, and give you a credit for the balance of the November service”. After a pregnant pause and a deep breath, I asked what about the $2560 in prior month billings? She said “you should have cancelled it when you upgraded”. I asked
“how would I know that HughesNet would not just handle this, since it would be almost criminal to charge for both accounts at the same time when there is only one modem”? She said “they should have told you during the sales call to cancel the account.” I said, I don’t know if they told me that or not, that was almost two years ago, really you are going to keep all the money you collected even though the service was disconnected from the modem and I was paying for the NEW business service?” Without skipping a beat she said “you should have seen it sooner and called us.” (case 124-861-610)
Be that as it may, while I could see being charged for a month as a penalty, I just can’t understand how they can justify retaining all 20 months of double payment for a service that I upgraded, especially since the modem was no longer connected, the data usage was zero, and their actual cost of this situation was zero. I went back and looked, none of the welcome emails, contracts or anything else had any reminder to cancel prior lower levels of service, or any indication that they could bill the original account forever, AND keep the money, until I called in. There was only a verbal mention of the requirement during a lengthy phone process to perform the upgrade. Is this a revenue stream for them?
The most worrisome thing is that this situation to me seems to be a pretty black and white cusomter service issue…an administrative mistake allowed duplicate billing to continue for an extended period of time, yet they still chose to stand by their policy that they could only refund one month. How will they respond to a less clear cut situation you may have? I complained and ask to talk to a supervisor: “I am the supervisor sir”. After further conversation, the residential customer service rep finally said look we can refund 3 months. I insisted that was unacceptable. They gave me an ’executive customer care” phone number, apparently an organization that has some oversight over both internal separate divisions of Residential and Business. (case 124-883-312) Talking with Joey there, I explained the situation, and while he expressed some sympathy over my frustration, he explained that his refund limit was insufficient to provide more than the $900 already offered. As I continued to complain, he advised me to call ‘corporate customer care” in the Germantown office, which I did. I explained the whole thing again to Gerome there, and he said he would review the situation and get back to me. I called him back a few days later and he said “I reviewed the recorded conversation and discussed it with my boss and you were advised to call back during the sales call with the Residential rep before they transferred you to the business sales rep. You should have called to cancel the prior service after the new one was established. We will refund only $1200 of the $2580 that we billed you for the unused account (9 months of the 20)”. I pointed out again that from my perspective I was only dealing with one company not two, I was surprised there was no checklist in the business upgrade process that followed up to detect and prevent this situation, no coordination or cooperation between the two divisions, I was surprised that the accounting system had no checks to see either that (a) it was billing twice for a single modem or (b) it was billing for a disconnected modem, and I guess I can understand that the accounting system would not flag an account with many months of 0 data usage since that is basically free money for them.
An arbitration case would be useless for this amount of money since it could cost upwards of $25,000 and take a year. I finally said, ok for this much money I can afford to talk to a legal professional to file a small claims court suit to attempt recovery. So recognizing that HughesNet is big and I am not, Gerome said “do what you have to do”.
So here I am, hoping to get some relief through this venue rather than pulling together the details to file a small claims caseto see what happens, since in CA it is only $50 to do so. It is really amazing that the ENTIRE organization from bottom to top could not recognize this as an unfair practice. I see lots of posts here complaining about the termination fees and whatever, but that is clearly explained in the contracts, and they do have expenses to recover with that situation, so I understand that stance. This one? There is a word for any other time an organization collects money and fails to provide any service but doesn’t return the money collected. It is called stealing.
The moral of the story is if one of the HughesNet “Customer Care” representatives tells you to cancel your residential service after you have finished upgrading and installing a Business service, you better do it , or face the potential of losing thousands of dollars due to an extremely unfair and appalling customer service policy. Let the buyer beware!
Thanks for reaching out. You've already worked with our highest level of support here at corporate, so the decision and offer from Jerome and his boss is final. Your understanding are much appreciated.