Former Prime TV Employees Claim They Were Told To Give Customers Runaround
Posted April 2, 2004 5:56 a.m. EST
RALEIGH, N.C. — Prime TV of Moore County sold hundreds of thousands of DirecTV dishes nationwide. When DirecTV canceled its contract with Prime TV, 200 workers lost their jobs. Some Prime TV employees said they were never specifically instructed to lie, but they do claim they worked in a system deliberately designed to mislead satellite TV buyers.
The employees, who wished to remain anonymous, told WRAL they played a daily game of telephone deceit with customers.
"Every time you walked through the door, you sold a piece of your integrity. Every time you walked through the door, you were going to lie," said one employee.
The workers said whether it was satellite TV sales or customer service, they worked in a system that misled consumers.
"They would say, 'Hey, I say what I have to say to get the sale. That's my paycheck.' Whatever I have to tell the customer to close that deal, I'm willing to say it," an employee said.
"I had to teach my customer service reps how to stall the customer," another employee said.
Prime TV has taken heat from thousands of customers across the country who complain the company failed to pay promised rebates. Former workers claim unless buyers went through the attorney general or Better Business Bureau, they said they did not have a very good chance of getting their money back.
"Papers might as well have been thrown in the trash. Nothing was done," another employee said.
After getting out of federal prison for mail and bankruptcy fraud, businessman David Hagen founded Prime TV. Yet, employees said they were told never to identify him as head of the company.
"We were instructed to give the name Louise Brown, who was basically a ficticious person," said one employee.
"I went home every day with a guilty conscience," another employee said.
"It was really stressful. It would make me cry a lot of the times," another employee said.
When asked if they felt so uncomfortable about what they were doing, how could they continue to work for the company, employees said, "They pay more than anybody around here." Another said, "I needed a job. There's no jobs in this area."
In a statement, Prime TV attorney Lyn Broom said, "The suggestion that only customers who complained would get a rebate is totally untrue. The company's policy was always to process rebates as soon as customers complied with the required terms and conditions."
On another note, DirecTV has agreed to pay a portion of outstanding bills to satellite TV installers. Installers, however, still tell WRAL Prime TV owes them money.