ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced that CenturyLink must better disclose its prices and fees under a court order filed Monday.
Swanson filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana-based phone, television and internet company in July in Anoka County District Court. It accuses CenturyLink of billing higher amounts than its sales agents quoted customers for internet and television services and then frequently refused to honor the prices quoted to consumers who caught the discrepancies on their bills.
“Consumers deserve clear and accurate pricing information so they can effectively shop for internet and TV service at the lowest price,” said Attorney General Swanson.
Under the court order, CenturyLink is prohibited from making false statements to Minnesota residents about the prices and terms of their products. It is also prohibited from charging Minnesota customers a greater amount than that disclosed at the time of sale.
Among other things, CenturyLink must clearly disclose at the time of sale:
- The monthly base price of the services being purchased;
- The amount of each recurring monthly fee on top of the monthly base price;
- The amount of any one-time fee, such as activation and installation fees;
- The amount of the first invoice and future invoices;
- The time period for which the quoted prices apply; and
- Any restrictions on a consumer’s ability to receive the quoted price.
The lawsuit cites many examples from customers who were quoted one price but charged another. For example, a man from Blaine was quoted a base monthly rate of $39.97 for television service, but was charged a base rate of $71.97 per month instead. A man from Columbia Heights was quoted a base monthly rate of $14.95 for internet service but was charged a base rate of $29.95 per month instead.
CenturyLink provided KARE 11 with a statement, saying:
"CenturyLink is pleased that we were able to work collaboratively with the Minnesota Attorney General’s office to come to agreement on an interim, stipulated order. Together, we will continue to work through the issues raised by the Attorney General’s complaint. Many of the enhanced customer disclosures we agreed to were already in progress as part of our ongoing commitment to our customers and our desire to continue to improve our customers’ experience. Our goal is to ensure that our customers understand the terms of service at the point of sale. Should our customers have questions or concerns, we offer a variety of methods for them to contact us, including online chat, email or by calling the toll-free number on their bill."