The football season is well under way, the television season is in full swing, and presidential debates are attracting viewers in record numbers. Admit it, you love watching TV. And, if you have a commercial office or store somewhere, you might think it would be a good idea to set up some TV’s in your lobby to make your customers’ experience more enjoyable and hopefully increase your revenue. But is a TV by itself enough? Maybe you’re thinking that what you really need to attract people is a full channel lineup, covering things like sports, cooking competitions and zombie shows. If only it didn’t cost so much for cable or a satellite service. Actually, come to think of it, you do have an extra receiver box for your satellite service provider at home. You could save a lot of money by just taking that and hooking it up to a TV at the office. Brilliant, right? Hold the phone. Before doing that, consider this advice: Don’t do it!
Your agreement with your service provider almost certainly prohibits you from using the services at any location but your house. And don’t think you can easily get away with it. Satellite TV service providers are known to send out “secret shoppers” to investigate violations of their service agreements. They may come into your salon pretending to be interested in getting a manicure, when really they are wearing a hidden camera to document the fact that you are showing their programming at a location when you have no right to. They will examine the receiver box and remote to make sure the equipment is connected with their services. Then they will leave (probably without buying anything from you). Later, you will receive in the mail a letter demanding that you cease and desist showing the programming and also that you pay a few thousand dollars in order to avoid going to court. In cases such as this, federal laws provide for statutory damages of $1000 to $10,000 for a violation and potential “enhancement damages” of up to $100,000. There is no way you can afford this (or if you can, there is no way you want to).
As in almost all situations, you will be much better off if just follow the law from the beginning. Just pay for the commercial account for the satellite services. Then you and your customers can enjoy watching television at your office without you having to live in fear.