Help, my CenturyLink bill is $#!*#d up — can you fix this thing?


Question: I’m trying to get a billing problem fixed with CenturyLink, but am having no luck. I recently signed up for a CenturyLink-DirecTV bundle without phone service through the CenturyLink website. I agreed to pay a rate of $24.95 a month.

When I got my first bill, I saw several fees and charges I didn’t recognize, including an “Internet” charge of $34.95 and a related one-time fee of $5.95.

I called CenturyLink and was advised that the $24.95 rate was only valid for a bundle package of home phone and Internet. I showed a representative the order form on the CenturyLink website, but even after I did, the company refused to adjust my bill.

I still have the order form that I agreed to when I signed up for the bundle, and have sent it to CenturyLink, in an effort to fix this. But I’m getting the runaround. Can you help? — Dona Ricci, Denver

Answer: If you had an agreement with CenturyLink on paper, then this should have been fixed quickly.

But it wasn’t. A CenturyLink representative insisted that the $24.95 rate was a mistake and then, when you proved it wasn’t, the company simply went into radio silence.

If a company digs in its heels, you have a few options. First, you can cancel your service and buy cable TV from someone else. That may or may not have been an option for you, depending on your neighborhood, and frankly, it’s the easy way out and lets CenturyLink off the hook.

The second choice is to take this to the regulators. Every state regulates utilities to some degree, and companies like CenturyLink also have to answer to federal authorities. Appealing to Colorado regulators or to the Federal Communications Commission may have yielded some results, but they aren’t guaranteed.

Finally, you could have gone the legal route, sending a lawyer letter to CenturyLink or taking the matter to small claims court. But the amount of money you would recover is probably not worth your time.

In reviewing your correspondence, I noticed that you went directly from phone calls to a written appeal to the executive office. I think you may have skipped a step along the way.

Most companies of CenturyLink’s size have a “contact us” form, which assigns a tracking number to every case. I always recommend trying that before an executive appeal. And remember, phone calls are the least efficient way to fix a billing error, because talk is cheap. There’s no way to prove anything, since you’re not recording the call.

I contacted CenturyLink on your behalf, and it adjusted your bill.

Should CenturyLink have honored the rate on its website?

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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