CenturyLink, the nation’s third largest landline provider, is facing a set of class action lawsuits in seven states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington). These lawsuits all stem from accusations of overbilling and billing for services that were never delivered. In addition to the complaints of current customers, some consumers who had left CenturyLink would find notifications of unpaid charges of $200 to $400 owed to a CenturyLink-affiliated entity on their credit reports months after ending service, said Ben Meiselas, an attorney at Geragos & Geragos, handling the suits.
Although it may be tempting to attribute such billing issues to the work of nefarious individuals trying to boost corporate profits, Opticom’s experience is that these issues usually have more mundane causes. In fact, they are generally the result of confusing billing practices within the company and the mish-mash of billing and inventory systems left over from years of mergers and acquisitions. As it turns out, the Minnesota Attorney General uncovered this exact state of affairs at CenturyLink after a subpoena of the provider’s records last year.
The USA Today article referenced above said that
The AG’s office found that CenturyLink’s pricing scheme involves more than 1,500 different scenarios for arriving at what to charge a consumer. The findings revealed “an incredibly complicated pricing scheme that they set up,” Swanson said. “And to charge the right prices the salespeople have to understand it, number one, and then execute upon it and that clearly wasn’t happening.”
Opticom has worked productively with CenturyLink in the past and we will continue to do so going forward. Given the rampant mergers in the telecom industry, many providers have the same issues and until you carefully review your bills you can’t be sure that you’re getting what you were promised. Opticom starts every engagement with an audit of current telecom bills and we very often find some of these discrepancies on our clients’ bills. We work with the providers to correct the billing going forward and to recover any money billed in error. We also manage the implementation of any new services we order for our clients so that we detect any billing issues and correct them with the provider. It’s only by being diligent that you can protect your firm from billing mistakes.