CenturyLink customers seek up to $12B in class-action suit

gavel and books

CenturyLink is facing more legal troubles as the telco has become the subject of a class-action suit from a group of customers seeking up to $12 billion in damages over claims of being overcharged for services and repairs. 

This is the second lawsuit the telco has faced in less than a week.

On Friday, a former employee sued the service provider over claims that she was fired for alerting the company about charging customers millions of dollars for services they never ordered.

Heidi Heiser, who worked CenturyLink as a customer service and sales agent from August 2015 until October 2016, said in a lawsuit she was fired shortly after pointing the issue out to the service provider’s CEO Glen Post during a company Q&A session.

RELATED: CenturyLink employee claims she was fired for accusing telco of fraudulent billing practices

Filed in the central district of California late Sunday night, the new larger lawsuit cites Heiser's suit and similar accusations posted on social media and consumer review websites by people who identify themselves as CenturyLink customers. These customers accuse CenturyLink of fraud, unfair competition and unjust enrichment.

"Ms. Heiser's allegations of what she observed, and what CenturyLink corporate culture encouraged, are consistent with the experiences of hundreds of thousands and potentially millions of consumers who have been defrauded by CenturyLink," the complaint said, according to a Bloomberg report. "It is estimated that the damages to consumers could range between $600 million and $12 billion, based on CenturyLink's 5.9 million subscribers."

A CenturyLink spokesman dismissed the new suit, saying it will look at the claims carefully.

“The fact that a law firm is trying to leverage a wrongful termination suit into a putative class action lawsuit does not change our original position,” Mark Molzen, a CenturyLink spokesman, said in a statement, adding that Heiser did not report her allegations to the company’s 24-hour Integrity Line.

Molzen said Heiser's claims “are completely inconsistent” with company policy and culture and that “we take these allegations seriously and are diligently investigating this matter.”

Craig McLeod and Steven McCauley, who are current CenturyLink customers, are the plaintiffs identified in the suit. McLeod said that after he was offered to get a faster internet speed for an additional $2 a month with a two-year contract, he had to pay much higher fees than quoted and was charged for a service repair that he never had done.

McLeod said CenturyLink is the only wireline internet service he can get where he lives.

"I'm pretty much stuck with CenturyLink," McLeod told Bloomberg. "I am seriously considering moving just because of them. The internet is that important to me."

News of Heiser’s suit could not come at a worse time. CenturyLink, which is in the midst of purchasing Level 3, saw its shares drop 7% on Friday. Level 3 also saw a decline.