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Thomas Godwin said that when he canceled his satellite TV service, he didn’t just do what he was supposed to do, he documented that he did it — which can be just as important.

Godwin, 80, of Madison, said he canceled DirecTV television service and parent company AT&T’s phone and Internet services, paid the termination fee and sent back all of their equipment but the satellite dish, which the companies didn’t want, on Oct. 6.

“I am now receiving a monthly bill and harassing telephone calls stating I owe Direct TV $47.48 for non-returned equipment,” he wrote SOS on Dec. 20. “I keep telling Direct TV that I returned all equipment marked ATT or Direct TV but they do not believe me. They have threatened me with collection agency companies calling on their behalf.”

He didn’t know the specific names of all the items he sent back, which is why he said it would have been helpful to have some kind of check-off list of the items AT&T/DirecTV asks subscribers to return.

Godwin had something of a check-off list of his own, though. He kept the UPS Store receipts, which meant he had their numbers and the package-tracking numbers, and he had made a note of each time he spoke with an AT&T/DirecTV representative. Included in those notes were the names of the people he spoke with and the times he spoke with them. He also made sure to have his latest AT&T/DirecTV bills on hand.

All of this meant that when Godwin contacted SOS, SOS had a pretty good paper trail to present to AT&T in case AT&T wanted to contend the equipment was never returned.

It didn’t.

SOS first contacted AT&T on Dec. 26 and Godwin said that on Jan. 4, he spoke with Dena Murray in AT&T’s office of the president, and Murray said it was zeroing out Godwin’s bill. He said she didn’t tell him anything about whether the equipment was ever received.

AT&T spokesman Mark Giga said Godwin’s account would be adjusted so that he will no longer be billed for the equipment.

“She wasn’t able to find any record of it being returned, but she gave him the benefit of the doubt,” Giga said.

Godwin said he told Murray that “there should be a check-off list for returned equipment.”

“She agreed,” he said.

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Urban affairs, investigations, consumer help ("SOS")