CenturyLink faces Alabama lawsuit as tide of fraudulent billing claims rises

CenturyLink can now add Alabama to the list of entities suing it over allegations that it overcharged broadband customers for service, following similar claims by consumers in several other states.

This latest suit was filed by Heninger Garrison Davis on behalf of Alabama customers alleging that consumers had their plans changed or were charged for extra services without their permission.

Within the complaint, the state lists 35 individual consumers, who were quoted prices but were ultimately charged sometimes two or three times the original price.

RELATED: CenturyLink faces pile of lawsuits over fraudulent billing

CenturyLink serves a number of the lawsuit plaintiffs in the southern part of the state. The lawsuit alleges that many Alabama customers have been overcharged and overbilled for services.

The service provider had a number of lawsuits filed recently against it all alleging similar types of complaints.

In July, Minnesota’s Attorney General (AG) Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink (PDF), saying her office also found evidence of repeated and systemic billing fraud at the company. One of the practices the Minnesota AG cites is the telecom industry practice of advertising one rate, then using bogus fees to charge customers more.

CenturyLink faces separate class-action suits that have been filed in seven states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington.

For its part, CenturyLink says it is cooperating with the Minnesota Attorney General’s investigation related to its internet and video services billing practices.

Glen F. Post
Glen Post

“We are limited in the things we can say while litigation and investigations are pending, but I do want to be very clear that the allegations contained in these lawsuits are contrary to everything I believe we stand for as a company,” said Glen Post, CEO of CenturyLink during the second-quarter earnings call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “They do not represent our values, our principles or our commitment to always try to do the right thing in running our business. That said, we take these allegations seriously and are very diligently investigating them.”

Trouble for CenturyLink has mounted since a former employee, who claims she was fired for alerting company officials about charging customers out of millions of dollars for services they never ordered.

Besides complying with the Minnesota AG’s request, CenturyLink has launched its own investigation into the claims after former employee Heidi Heiser said she was fired for alerting the company about charging customers out of millions of dollars for services they never ordered.  

“In addition to management's efforts, our board of directors appointed a special committee and hired the law firm O'Melveny & Myers to conduct an independent review of these issues,” Post said. “This decision was made immediately after learning about the initial lawsuit, not because there was evidence of wrongdoing, but because we wanted to be sure that our board had an independent view of these issues.”