CenturyLink couldn’t connect, so why do I have to pay a $200 cancellation fee?

When Matthew Scott cancels his CenturyLink account, the company tries to charge him a $200 cancellation fee. After all he’s been through, he thinks that’s too much. Is he right?

Question: I have a home and business account with CenturyLink. The business account’s performance has been terrible. I paid for the fastest internet speed they offered, but after at least a month of not receiving even a tenth of the speed I was paying for, and multiple unsuccessful technician visits, an employee advised me to reduce the speed I was paying for to stop wasting money.

I did and asked CenturyLink if it could discount my bill for the service I overpaid for but did not receive. CenturyLink refused. I did not pursue any further action.

Now I am trying to cancel my home CenturyLink account because it is simply no longer needed and they want to charge me a $200 cancellation fee even though I still have a business account with them costing me $200 a month. A supervisor informed me there is nothing they can do. Can you help? — Matthew Scott, Starke, Fla.

Answer: CenturyLink should have done better — much better. First, it should have offered you a connection for your business that worked as promised. I’m astonished that one of its own employees would tell you not to “waste” your money rather than try to fix the problem.

But that’s not the real problem. The issue is that you had two separate accounts, one of which was canceled and for which you didn’t pay a cancellation fee (and rightfully so). The other, your personal account, had a different contract. By your own admission, it worked fine until you no longer needed it.

Drawing a connection between problem one — your failed business account — and problem two — your working personal account — was something of a stretch. I can certainly understand that you feel this was a single transaction between you and the company, but CenturyLink sees it differently. If the company makes any consideration, it will be in the interests of good customer service, and not because it’s required to.

For that reason, I recommended that you first send a brief, polite email to CenturyLink’s executives. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer advocacy website.

In a situation like this, where there’s a difference between what a company is required to do and what it probably should do, a little gentle pressure works best. You mentioned that you were working with me when you contacted CenturyLink, and as a gesture of goodwill, it canceled your account without charging the $200 fee.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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