Background About the CenturyLink Class Action Lawsuits
This article covers multiple class action lawsuits filed against CenturyLink, which resulted in what is known today as the CenturyLink MDL Class Settlement. Many plaintiffs had filed different lawsuits concerning the same complaints.
Illegal Billing Practices
Around the middle of 2017, a class-action lawsuit was filed against CenturyLink, claiming that the company has misled its customers about the fees for its services and charges fees that are not disclosed to either the customers or in its advertisements.
The lead plaintiff, Heather Gonsior, claimed that the company misinformed her about how much its services cost and charged her $240, which was never in CenturyLink’s advertisements. She also alleges that there are many more customers in Oregon who have fallen victim to the company’s misrepresentations.
In March 2016, Gonsior was visited by two CenturyLink salespeople, asking if she was interested in signing up for the fiber service that recently opened up in her neighborhood. It was part of a promotion where the customers can lock in a rate for a year, which will be lower than what they get on their current bill.
She later realized that a $240 fee was tagged on her bill if she returned to her original plan. Gonsior mentioned later that if she knew about the fee, she wouldn’t have signed up for the lock-in rate.
The plaintiff tried resolving the situation by calling CenturyLink, but they only gave her the runaround and went on over billing Gonsior for its services. She thought she was the only one experiencing this issue but found out later that many more consumers were facing the same problem.
There was also a whistleblower lawsuit that was filed by a former CenturyLink employee in Arizona, alleging that she lost her job after making CenturyLink’s illegal billing practices public in Arizona, which was very similar to what the Oregon customers experienced.
Craig MacLeod and Steven McCauley both filed lawsuits against CenturyLink for unlawful billing practices, along with a list of business violations against so many of its customers.
- Billing for services that customers never bought
- Charging improper fees
- Billing at rates higher than what the customers agreed to
- Continued billing even after service cancellation
- Charging customers for modems that were for rent even after they were returned
- Customers being referred to collections after refusing to pay for modems that were returned
McCauley related about what happened when he asked if the $24.99 CenturyLink plan was available as he heard it from a friend living in another state. He was told it wasn’t available, but a 10 Mbps plan was for $27.99.
When he agreed to switch, he was surprised when he was billed for the $80 non-contract price of his original plan. McCauley complained but was told that the $27.99 never existed. The only alternative was a plan for $43 a month. Still, he wanted to switch providers, so he was told of a $200 contract termination fee.
In April 2017, he upgraded from 10 to 25 Mbps for only $2 a month based on a CenturyLink upgrade offer. He restarted his modem to avail of the service, but his service got cut off. Technicians visited him, installing replacement modems that he allegedly didn’t need.
He, later on, realized on his next bill that he wasn’t paying for $2 but was actually paying more. There was also a charge of $35 wiring fee, which was allegedly for the technicians who installed the modems.
When MacLeod reported the discrepancies to the company, he got blamed instead, same as other customers, for not seeing the charges immediately as that was the reason bills are being sent.
Another Illegal Billing Practice Lawsuit
Jubilee Lawhead from Washington filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink, claiming that she is being charged by the company for a business line that she never allowed. She claimed that she only signed up for a home connection but was given additional connections she never requested.
She mentioned her services should only be $55.95 a month but was charged $74.47 instead, and later on, a huge bill of $216.81 came in.
Lawhead later realized that she was being charged for two more lines, a business and another home phone line. She also mentioned that the company never came through with the speed it promised.
False Advertising Tactics
Jason Malueg’s lawsuit was another case reiterating CenturyLink’s alleged sales practices that attracted customers to sign up for low rates but charges them a much higher rate to the next bill.
According to the lawsuit, CenturyLink’s unlawful sales tactics are known and are practiced by anyone in the company. From the illegal billing to sales, the lawsuit alleges that they are part of a uniform business model, proof of which was in training given to its sales officers and employees.
The false advertising class action alleges that CenturyLink motivates its representatives to complete a sale by any means necessary.
Further allegations also relate to the thousands of complaints about the same thing: CenturyLink’s sales and customer service departments.
Illegal CenturyLink Sales Practices and Securities Litigation
In 2018, CenturyLink faced yet another class-action lawsuit, now concerning its deceptive sales practices.
Bob Glodowski and Hollie Richman filed the lawsuit in a Utah Federal court, alleging that CenturyLink was running a boiler room of sorts where the company does its sales and customer service operations.
During sales pitches to customers, they were promised low rates, but the actual bill found charges higher than what was promised, along with charges that were never mentioned during the sales call.
According to allegations, CenturyLink shrugged these complaints off as billing disputes.
Some unauthorized fees, according to claims, were services that were never ordered, duplicate accounts, services that were actually ordered but never delivered, devices that were promptly returned, and early contract termination fees.
Once customers call in to complain. CenturyLink did its best to keep as much of the overcharges as possible. They were in denial with most of what the customers claimed, even blaming computer problems and implicitly threatening them with termination fees if they cancel the services.
Glodowski and Richman claimed CenturyLink was fully aware of what its salespeople were doing and condoned the said practices. If someone complains, they were ignored or punished.
Another case in point is filed by a woman in Wisconsin alleging that CenturyLink tacked on unauthorized charges to their customers’ bills.
For the past five years, plaintiff Susan Miller availed of a promotion from CenturyLink every year, but each year she was taken advantage of the offer, she always got charged a much higher rate.
She resolved the issue after long hours of call times with the company, and CenturyLink never even offered to apply the correct charges retroactively, according to allegations.
CenturyLink’s revenues were unsustainable, as they were based on unlawful conduct that put the company always under scrutiny and government sanctions that may severely limit its business.
Company investors found out the truth about CenturyLink’s business practices and conditions with the help of corrective disclosures.
- 16th of June 2017
Bloomberg wrote that a former CenturyLink employee filed a whistleblower lawsuit. Claims include being unlawfully terminated when she called out the company’s illegal sales practices and unauthorized charges to its customers.
- 19th of June 2017
Another class-action lawsuit was filed against CenturyLink because of its unauthorized billing tactics.
- 12th of July 2017
Minnesota Attorney General filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink for allegedly violating state consumer protection laws.
Details about the CenturyLink MDL Class Settlement
On the 14th of December 2020, CenturyLink agreed to settle for $15.5 million to resolve the claims that they misled customers with unlawful billing tactics.
The settlement involved customers who had an account with CenturyLink or one of its companies for telephone, internet, or television services from the 1st of January 2014 until the 14th of January 2020.
The lawsuits involved deceptive selling practices and unauthorized billing charges that included the customers receiving undisclosed charges for services or devices that were not needed by them. It also involved unlawful charges on customers’ bills for promises of a lower rate but got higher rates on their bills for promotions they took advantage of.
The lawsuits were combined into multidistrict litigation (MDL) in a Minnesota Federal court. It is now commonly known as the CenturyLink MDL Class Settlement across the USA.
The company did not admit that they did anything wrong but settled to resolve the MDL by paying $15.5 million to cover class member payments, attorney’s fees, court costs, and plaintiff service awards.
CenturyLink shelled out $3 million for settlement administration and notice costs, and if it exceeded $3 million, $1 million would be added, covered equally by the company and the settlement fund.
Editor’s Note on CenturyLink MDL Class Settlement:
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