Overbilled by CenturyLink — and now a $200 early termination charge?

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By Christopher Elliott

Who broke the contract — CenturyLink or Terri Trier? That’s the question we have to answer today. At stake: a $200 early termination charge.

Question

Several weeks ago, I received a bill for my new CenturyLink service that didn’t match the amount that I had agreed to pay when I signed up. I called the company and was told I was being charged more because I had probably not signed up for auto pay or paperless billing.

When I explained that in fact I had signed up for auto pay and was receiving paperless bills he said that I was wrong. I canceled my service. I was told I would have to pay a $200 early termination charge. But I didn’t break my contract — CenturyLink did when it started charging me more for my service.

I don’t want to pay a $200 early termination charge. Can you help me persuade CenturyLink to drop the charge? — Terri Trier, Henniker, N.H.

Answer

True, CenturyLink imposes an early termination charge if you cancel your service before the end of your contract. Check out section 12 (c) of your subscriber agreement.

But you also have a valid point. By charging you more than you agreed, did CenturyLink effectively break its own contract?

I’m not a lawyer, but do you really need a law degree to know when something is wrong? This isn’t the first complaint I have received about CenturyLink. When CenturyLink raised its price for your service, it acted inappropriately. It shouldn’t have imposed a $200 early termination charge.

I can’t believe a company rep flatly told you that you were “wrong.” What kind of customer service is that?

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You definitely should have appealed this to someone higher up at CenturyLink. A review of your correspondence suggests you spent a lot of time — way, way too much time — corresponding with the company. All for nothing. (Here is an ultimate guide on how to fix your own consumer need)

My advocacy team and I contacted CenturyLink on your behalf. A representative called you and admitted that the company had been overcharging you. The rep agreed that you had, in fact, signed up for auto pay and paperless bills. Your early termination charge has been waived.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Rio de Janeiro.

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