CenturyLink Must Reform Television and Internet Sales and Billing Practices Under New Court Order
released on October 31, 2017
found in newsletter: October 2017
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced that CenturyLink—the Louisiana phone, television, and internet company—must better disclose its prices and fees under a court order publicly filed today in her ongoing lawsuit against the company.
“Consumers deserve clear and accurate pricing information so they can effectively shop for internet and TV service at the lowest price,” said Attorney General Swanson.
Swanson filed a lawsuit against the company in July in Anoka County District Court, alleging that it billed higher amounts than its sales agents quoted customers for internet and television services and then frequently refused to honor the prices quoted to consumers who caught the discrepancies on their bills.
Under the court order, CenturyLink—whether selling its own internet or television services or selling products for DirectTV—is prohibited from making false statements to Minnesota residents about the prices and terms of those products. It is also prohibited from charging Minnesota customers a greater amount than that disclosed at the time of sale. Among other things, CenturyLink must clearly disclose at the time of sale:
The monthly base price of the services being purchased;
The amount of each recurring monthly fee on top of the monthly base price;
The amount of any one-time fee, such as activation and installation fees;
The amount of the first invoice and future invoices;
The time period for which the quoted prices apply; and
Any restrictions on a consumer’s ability to receive the quoted price.
As noted above, CenturyLink sells its own television services and also sells products and services provided by DirecTV. Swanson obtained a Consent Judgement with DirecTV in 2011 that prohibited the company from misrepresenting its prices and required the company to clearly disclose any conditions or limitations that may alter the price quoted to the consumer.
The lawsuit cites many examples of consumers who were quoted one price but charged another. For example, a man from Blaine was quoted a base monthly rate of $39.97 for television service, but was charged a base rate of $71.97 per month instead. A man from Columbia Heights was quoted a base monthly rate of $14.95 for internet service, but was charged a base rate of $29.95 per month instead.
Original Press Release