CenturyLink is facing yet more lawsuits over the company's practice of allegedly over-charging broadband and TV subscribers. Earlier this year, a CenturyLink whistleblower revealed that the company had a systemic practice of charging users for services and upgrades they never asked for. Heidi Heiser, who worked for CenturyLink as a customer service and sales agent from August 2015 until October 2016 has sued the company over the scheme, stating she was fired shortly after pointing it out to company CEO Glen Post.
After the whistleblower filed her lawsuit, numerous states followed with lawsuits of their own
accusing CenturyLink of all manner of fraudulent billing behaviors.
Minnesota’s attorney general Lori Swanson has filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink (pdf), stating her office has also found evidence of repeated and systemic billing fraud at the company. Among the practices being cited is the now-standard telecom industry practice of advertising one rate, then using bogus fees to charge customers more.
“I want [CenturyLink] to knock it off," Swanson said. "It is not OK for a company to quote one price and then charge another for something as basic as cable television and internet service. We want an injunction so the company stops doing this to other people, and hopefully fixes the problem for these people as well."
We've been complaining about this practice for years. Centurylink is no different from other ISPs in this regard, though at times has been more brazen. The company came under particular fire when it began using an incredibly misleading "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" to drive up the company's advertised broadband price. Most regulators and lawmakers have spent a decade turning a blind eye to this kind of anti-consumer practice, but the check appears to have come due for CenturyLink.
The company's now facing yet another lawsuit in Alabama, alleging CenturyLink routinely and systemically over-billed users for service, mislead users as to the advertised price of services, and routinely signed users up for services they didn't want or ordered in order to help boost quarterly sales numbers. The lawsuit joins similar lawsuits in seven other states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.
In recent months CenturyLink has given some indication that it's simplifying its pricing and eliminating some of these bogus fees
. Originally we thought it was because of the company's heavy subscriber losses to cable companies, but now it seems likely that the ISP was alsoresponding to the growing legal evidence of its billing shenanigans.