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

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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.

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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.

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

  1. Advocacy efforts to obtain a credit for the terrible business account would have made a lot more sense than doing anything related to the personal account.

  2. Am I missing something? Chris, you said, “Thee 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.”

    But did Scott cancel his business account? “. . . even though I still have a business account with them costing me $200 a month.”

  3. CenturyLink is a DSL provider, distributing over traditional telephone lines. This technology is inherently limited in speed to a value that depends on how far the subscriber is from the nearest company ‘switch’. I was on CenturyLink once, and although I live right next to a switch, they couldn’t give me more than 10 Mbps. If you live more than about three miles from the switch, you can’t get usable Internet service.

    It gets worse: that mileage is as the copper flies, not the crow. In the days of voice-only telephone service, the routing of lines was unimportant so long as service reached each subscriber. It was routine practice to lay not the shortest lines, but lines that involved the least footage of expensive permitting and trenching. Subscribers a mile from the switch might find themselves to be ten cable miles away. DSL can be as reliable as the sunrise once you get it working, but always make sure your provider allows you to verify promised speed before signing a long-term contract.

    1. We had Century Link down here in Southern AZ. Had one problem after another, from overcharges to incorrectly cancelled services to multiple charges after we closed the account. Must say the service people who attempted to “fix” our phone and Internet were great, but the phone reps repeatedly often spoke to us in “fiction,” not fact.

  4. Would not have been an issue in the first place if the OP didn’t agree to a contract. NEVER a contract–always month-to-month.

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