Gilbert, SC--A new South Carolina resident is taking the fight to his internet provider.
Curly Gatts recently moved to Gilbert with his wife for a new job. The Pittsburgh native said he got a flyer in the mail from Hughesnet Internet service for only $50 a month. Gatts said it is the only provider in his area.
He signed up last Friday; but was shocked when he saw his account on Saturday.
"When the installation was coming in, they were only supposed to take $99 out of our account," Gatts said. "Saturday morning, we checked our bank account, they took $467.47. The bank said if I get a confirmation number, the bank could put the money back in my account; which Hughesnet will not give me."
The Concrete Foreman said according to the agreement, installation was supposed to be free after a $99 mail in rebate. He said the installer told the couple they would be billed. Gatts said he has tried contacting Hughesnet, a member of the Better Business Bureau, but keeps getting passed around to different departments.
The 50-year-old said he and his wife only has $19 in his account now and cannot afford food or to pay other bills.
"We're both getting depressed over it," Gatts said. "We are not going to have money to pay the light bill. We have not been here long enough to get on a payment plan with the light company. For a major company to do this to people is wrong."
Gatts is not alone. According to the Better Business Bureau, more than 2,000 complaints have been closed in the last three years regarding Hughesnet. And according to www.topclassactions.com, the company settled a class action lawsuit last summer regarding advertised internet speed.
WACH contacted Hughesnet; which is based in Maryland. Spokesperson Judy Blake said they hope to get the situation resolved.
"We are sorry for the confusion," Blake said. "I will send this to Executive Customer Care and have them work on it. All I can say right now is sorry for any confusion. We will get working on it right away."
Juliana Harris with the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs said people should pay with credit cards instead of debit because it offers more protection. She encourages people to always do their homework even if the company is registered with the B.B.B.
"It is not always about how many complaints they have, but how they resolve them," Harris said. "Make sure you get everything in writing, cause that will help you if you do encounter problems."
Gatts said he has already cancelled his debit card to prevent more money from potentially being taken out. He plans to file a complaint with the Department of Consumer Affairs. He said his bank is also assisting him.
"I do not believe people should be allowed to take more money out of the account then you have authorized," Gatts said. "I think that is stealing. If I did it, I'm sure the police would be here and take me to jail."
An experience he hopes no one else will have to face.