CenturyLink customers complain about billing nightmares

KING 5's Danielle Leigh reports.

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CenturyLink has promised to address customer complaints after KING 5 heard from dozens of cable subscribers who complained about billing nightmares and bait and switch sales tactics.

Seattle resident Paul Robisch said he agreed to a bundle package for cable, phone, and internet for $93.93 a month when two door-to-door sales representatives visited his home.

His actual bill turned out to be around 89 percent higher than he had initially agreed to pay, over $177 a month.

"There is a reason why cable companies are the most hated corporations in America," Robisch said.

Robisch said CenturyLink told him he was on the hook for the entire term of the year-long contract he had signed and refused to honor the price sales representatives had quoted Robisch for the agreement saying a third party contractor had sold him the deal, and CenturyLink was not responsible for the price Robisch had been given.

"I would say be truthful. If you tell the customer A then do A. Don't give the customer the runaround," Robisch said.

Another Seattle resident, Tee Earls, complained his CenturyLink bills require constant monitoring and routine phone calls to customer service to correct instances of overbilling and other mistakes.

"All companies make mistakes. I don’t think that is the issue," Earls said. "I think the issue I have is that it happens so routinely with CenturyLink. I think that is the frustrating part."

This year, the Washington Attorney General's Office has received 189 complaints about CenturyLink, about 22 percent more than any other major cable and internet provider in the state.

Billing complaints like Robisch's posed such a problem, Seattle's Office of Cable Communications called CenturyLink executives for a meeting last fall demanding CenturyLink remedy billing and service disputes and improve its customer service.

"We work to exercise whatever regulatory powers are necessary to protect the consumer," said Tony Perez, director of Seattle's Office of Cable Communications.

The Office of Cable Communications is a small unit within the Seattle Information Technology Department that enforces the city's cable customer bill of rights guaranteeing residents prompt customer service and fair billing practices.

It requires cable companies to provide credits to customers ranging from $20 to $100 whenever their clearly outlined cable rights are violated.

Perez said CenturyLink agreed to honor prices customers were quoted and established a dedicated executive care team to service questions and complaints from Seattle customers.

"We want people to call us. We are here to serve them, and we get results," Perez said.

Perez also admits a majority of Seattle residents don't know his service exists.

Records from the city indicate just 20 people have received a credit this year averaging about $80 a person and totaling $1,596.92.

From 2015 through April 2017, city records indicate Perez's office has obtained $14,771.81 in credits for residents whose cable rights were violated.

"We are hoping that with you being here that the message of our services will be conveyed to a broad audience," Perez said.

KING 5 reached out CenturyLink on behalf of Robisch, who had not heard about the services offered by Seattle's Office of Cable Communications.

A CenturyLink spokesperson said the company would honor the price Robisch was quoted and would be sending him a credit for the difference in his bill as well as offering to release him from the contract without penalty.

Robisch was one of about 80 people who wrote KING 5 with billing complaints, and CenturyLink's spokesperson promised to address all of those issues as well.

"CenturyLink values our customers and strives to provide the best possible experience and customer service at all times. We encourage customers to review their accounts and to contact us with any questions they may have. We are committed to providing the best quality experience and will continue to work to meet and exceed our customers' expectations," wrote Marketing and Public Relations Manager Brian Dalessi in a statement.

Robisch said he is grateful his billing complaint has been resolved.

He also added that he'd learned one lesson he won't forget.

"Anyone coming up the driveway, I don't care what they are selling, I'm going to tell them to turn around," Robisch said.

 

© 2017 KING-TV


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