Installers Get Mixed Signals From Local Satellite Company
Posted April 1, 2004 5:56 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — For years, Prime TV of Moore County brought in millions marketing DirecTV satellite equipment. Last week, DirecTV canceled their contract with Prime TV. Now, companies that installed those systems say they could go under because Prime TV is not paying the bills.
Many angry satellite TV installers from across the country installed systems for Moore County's Prime TV, but they say they have not gotten all their money.
Two companies in Florida tell WRAL they are out more than $800,000. One installer in Georgia claims Prime TV owes them $52,000. An Alabama company claims it is owed $500,000 and a Washington contractor claims it is owed $4,000.
Prime TV founder David Hagen blames the debts on DirecTV's decision to cancel the sales contract with Prime TV. DirecTV said they terminated the deal for good reason and they do not owe a dime. In an e-mail to installers, Hagen fights back calling the claims "categorically false."
However, many installers do not buy that. They said some unpaid bills date back months before DirecTV pulled the plug. Plus, they are frustrated to learn that despite the outstanding bills, Prime TV's ownership and management team plans to expand yet another satellite TV company in Cary's MacGregor Park. They will be selling Dish Network equipment.
Installer Raleigh Coggin of Georgia told WRAL, "They're trying to evade and escape. There's a lot of mad people out there. We're about to lose everything."
For years, Prime TV has been dogged by thousands of complaints from consumers nationwide who say the company failed to pay promised rebates until the attorney general intervened. Prime TV argues the compaints came from only a small percentage of customers.
Some installers now link their problems to David Hagen's past. The Prime TV founder served federal prison time in the 1990s for mail and bankuptcy fraud.
Florida installation company owner David Sparks told WRAL, "I think what it may take to get Hagen to pay us is the threat that he may go back to jail."
Hagen released a response saying he is taking legal action against DirecTV seeking $30 million in damages. He said, "PrimeTV very much regrets the inconvenience that this situation has created for some individuals who worked under contract. We are disappointed that DirectTV is taking advantage of a business dispute to prevent hard-working men and women from being paid what they are owed."
On Friday, Prime TV attorneys will meet with the Attorney General investigators.