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

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.

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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? 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?

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.

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.

11 thoughts on “Overbilled by CenturyLink — and now a $200 early termination charge?

  1. nah, it’s the other way around. Or they both went to the same customer service training seminars.

  2. Just as a basic legal question, changing terms of service (such as price) during a fixed contract is probably a breach, and the consumer would be able to cancel at that time without any liquidated damage such as a “termination fee”. This has come up with WSJ and others who change service and give a “pop-up-box” that consumers click through, but end up paying more, and the “pop-up-box” was found to be sufficient notice. So be careful clicking.

  3. Everything I hear about CentryLink makes me think that Comcast customer service is a dream compared to CL customer service.

  4. I think they’re both in India and the same guys write the “scripts”.

    And have I provided you with excellent service today?

  5. Century Link (formerly Qwest) is debilitated company that provides dismal services to small customers. Their max internet speed is 40MB, and 1.5MB in most of Phoenix, Arizona. They call both High-Speed Internet. They charge a lot, their customer service is rude and unhelpful.
    But who cares. The executives do get their lion share for doing it to all of us and this is the only thing that matters.
    The contract was never properly start because they billed wrongly – i.e. there can be no termination fee for something that did not start yet. Small detail was overlooked? Had the customer been reimbursed at least for the admitted over-billing?

  6. We had US West, then Qwest and ultimately Century Link in New Mexico and Arizona. Century Link pulled all sorts of shenanigans on us (very similar to the woman in the story). We had to drop them as their Internet where we live in AZ at the most is a rip-roaring 20MB. All three provided horrendous service. And how can we forget Qwest’s CEO Joseph Nacchio, who was charged with 42 counts of insider trading in 2007, but was convicted of only 19. A jury found him guilty of selling $52 million in Qwest stock based on nonpublic information in 2001. He went to prison for 6 years and upon release said the NSA helped to convict him because he wouldn’t be part of a spy ring.

  7. I have had both Century Link and Comcast. I had far more issues with CL. The last straw was after cancelling our CL service, we got an extra month billed to us. Before even having a chance to pay it, they sent it to a collections service.

    We paid it just so we could sever ties with CL.

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