CenturyLink to pay nearly $9M in Minnesota overcharge case

Published 3:59 pm Wednesday, January 8, 2020

ST. PAUL — CenturyLink has agreed to pay nearly $9 million to settle allegations the company overbilled Minnesota customers, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Wednesday.

Ellison said the settlement requires CenturyLink to pay more than $844,000 in refunds to more than 12,000 Minnesota customers who were promised a discount they did not receive. The company will pay an additional $8 million that Ellison’s office will use to distribute refunds to other customers. The settlement also requires the Louisiana-based company to change its billing practices and to disclose the true price of its services at time of sale and in its advertisements.

“CenturyLink broke the law by fraudulently overbilling hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans and illegally raising the price Minnesotans had to pay for the company’s service,” Ellison said in a news release.

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In a statement, CenturyLink said it disagrees with the attorney general’s position, but settled to “avoid the distraction and costs of litigation.” CenturyLink said it believes “it is in the best interests of our company and our customers to amicably resolve these matters.”

Then-Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson sued CenturyLink in July 2017. Swanson alleged that the company billed higher amounts than its sales agents quoted customers for internet and television services and then refused to honor the lower price.

Ellison said complaints by Minnesota consumers filed with his office about CenturyLink’s billing practices now number close to 5,000. The settlement also requires CenturyLink to provide consumers with an “order confirmation” that includes a complete summary of prices consumers will pay; honor all of the prices and discounts the company promises to consumers; and stop charging “sham” internet fees that “provide consumers with nothing of value,” Ellison said.

Ellison urged CenturyLink customers in Minnesota who believe the company has overcharged them anytime from 2011 until now to complete a contract form on the attorney general’s website to start the reimbursement process.