ST. PAUL — Minnesotans improperly charged by telecommunications company CenturyLink can expect to see at least some of their losses covered under a legal settlement with the state.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison on Wednesday, Jan. 8, announced that the company would pay back an average of $75 to more than 12,000 who reported they were overbilled for services. And Ellison's office asked others who believe they'd been wronged by CenturyLink to apply for part of an $8 million settlement set to be distributed by the state.
Ellison said the state filed suit against the telecommunications company in 2017 after around 5,000 people reported improper billing practices by the company. At the time, CenturyLink racked up the most complaints of any company in the state's consumer database.
CenturyLink customers alleged that the company deceived them by offering low prices that it didn't deliver, used complex rules to charge them more than the package they were offered and ignored Minnesotans who didn't get the price CenturyLink had promised.
More than 300,000 Minnesota customers were potentially overbilled, according to information discovered during legal discovery. Current customers who were overbilled could see a credit to their account while previous customers will receive a check.
Suzanne Holt previously purchased her internet and television services through CenturyLink and said she reported her concerns to the state after the company spokesman was unkind to her over the phone.
"You don't know you're not out there alone," Holt said. "It just didn't seem right so I thought I'd go in and complain."
"It didn't seem right and it wasn't right," Ellison responded.
Under the settlement, the company must also reform its billing practices to more clearly explain the price for services and honor prices and discounts it promises customers. The company will be subject to additional litigation if it violates the terms, Ellison said. And he asked that customers report to his office if they have concerns about CenturyLink services.
Those who believe CenturyLink has overcharged them since July 12, 2011, can apply for reimbursement from the Attorney General's office online, or call the Attorney General's office at 800-657-3787.
"We know that a lot of Minnesotans don't want to complain, we kind of suck it up and deal, but this is not the right thing to do in this situation. You should call, you should clarify, you should be sure you're being treated properly and fairly," Ellison said.