DirecTV customers in the United States may be subject to higher fees than customers in neighboring zip codes despite getting effectively the same product, according to a report from the Consumerist.
According to research done by the consumer-focused publication, DirecTV has been hitting its customers with different fees based on their region. The location based pricing has led to some customers paying as much as $87.48 per year more than counterparts in other parts of the country.
The pricing difference hinges on the satellite provider’s "regional sports fee," a monthly fee the company adds on top of a customer’s bill. It has been applied to customers by DirecTV since 2012 to cover the cost of regional sports networks that are carried by the broadcaster.
However, the price charged by AT&T, the owner of DirecTV, is not the same for every region—even when those regions carry the exact same sports networks.
For example, in Arizona, DirecTV hits consumers with fees of $0, $2.47, $5.83, and $7.29. Despite the different costs across different areas of the state, all of those regions receive the same network same network—FSN Arizona—which broadcasts the same teams—the Arizona Coyotes, Arizona Diamondbacks and Phoenix Suns.
Other regions saw similar effects. Zip codes in the Minneapolis area were primarily priced at $4.53 per month, but one area paid $5.83 per month while another had no regional sports fee at all despite having access to the same broadcasts as the other areas.
In Philadelphia, many zip codes carried no regional sports fee as DirecTV doesn’t carry Comcast Sports Philly, the channel that broadcasts most Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers games. But some zip codes were still charged $4.53 or $5.83 per month, for seemingly no reason.
All of the information is viewable in DirecTV’s online tool, but was first brought to the attention of the Consumerist when a DirecTV customer contacted them when she noticed a sudden increase on her monthly bill related to the regional sports fee.
AT&T is yet to respond to the perplexing regional maps, which show similar access with different pricing across the country. AT&T is yet to respond to International Business Times’ request for more information regarding the pricing.
Regional sports fees and other additional surcharges applied by cable and satellite companies have come under fire in recent years. A recent class-action lawsuit accused Comcast of falsely advertising low prices that didn’t disclose additional charges applied each month from sports and broadcast TV fees. A similar lawsuit has also been filed against Charter.