Was CenturyLink Lawsuit Billing Practices Unfair?

CenturyLink is a massive telecommunications company in Florida that is part of the Spectra fide Communications group. This company owns many large-scale spectrum frequencies and it also has the contract to provide Next Generation (aka Gigabit) fiber-optic Internet access. This company is currently attempting to put a stake into the heart of the high-speed Internet industry with their newest offering called the CenturyLink lawsuit.

This newest offering by CenturyLink is a lawsuit that purports to give customers a break on their monthly charges due to an alleged flaw that is supposed to be fixed with a “level 3 blocking” technique. It’s not clear whether or not this is even legal, since the federal communications commission hasn’t taken a position on it yet. This means that the federal government is basically stating that the carrier behind the technology isn’t guilty of any wrongdoing, but still wants to make money off of consumers by making the “contingency fee” optional. Consumers like the level 3 blocking option since it takes advantage of a loophole in the Federal Communication Commission’s rules.

When CenturyLink first announced the lawsuit, it seemed like a serious issue that would galvanize the state’s residents. However, as this issue became more confused, the company backtracked on its statements, claiming that the new plans would benefit the state’s consumers in several ways. The numbers don’t bear this out, and over two months, Washingtonians still haven’t received the break they were hoping for.

Consumers in Washington State have suffered for two months because of this issue.

They’ve lost six hours of work time and have paid over one-million dollars in extra charges for having to deal with the mess. The original CenturyLink lawsuit was filed by an attorney who claimed that the company was illegally forcing customers to pay for usage over six hours without offering any benefits. The state’s attorney general decided to take care of this mess instead and has since filed suit against CenturyLink and its subsidiary, blaming the company for encouraging its customers to call a hotline to voice complaints. Instead of calling an attorney general’s office to report such abuses, CenturyLink encouraged their customers to use the phone. Even after knowing that the state was involved, CenturyLink continued to encourage its customers to make “unsubstantive” complaints about their poor customer service.

CenturyLink also encourages its customers to call the lead plaintiff (the person who initiated the lawsuit) for a settlement.

The lead plaintiff was not charged a fee for his services. CenturyLink simply added a surcharge to his bill. He now hopes to receive a sizable payment for his troubles. Meanwhile, CenturyLink continues to profit from its illegal practices. The company claims that it can recoup most of its losses through settlement and that it will be able to pay back the rest of the money it owes to its customers in a few years.

Unfortunately, the lead plaintiff may never see his case through to a settlement.

CenturyLink’s website does not list contact information for its attorneys. Its lawyers do not have enough time to meet with the attorneys who represent the plaintiffs. Worse, the State of Oregon assigned a judge to handle the case, which means that the case is moving slowly. The estimated time taken to resolve this case is three years, which means that the company has already lost three years of possible profit. CenturyLink did not provide any details on the time needed for a case to be resolved or what percentage of a winery’s wine inventory must be sold at certain prices so that it can pay its obligations.

The CenturyLink lawsuit is just one example of the problems attorneys have faced while trying to help people avoid fraudulent billing practices.

The State of California Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released a statement saying that CenturyLink’s lawsuit is “baseless.” He added, “The only thing worse than using illegal strategies to defraud customers, and denying their right to fair compensation, is for a business to put up a fake lawsuit to escape from paying a fair price for their products and services.” This attorney general is calling on all states to investigate and implement regulations that would make deceptive billing practices illegal. States are also encouraged to protect consumers by implementing “safe harbor” laws that prevent companies from relying on risky practices while trying to get out of paying lawsuits.

According to the CenturyLink lawsuit, the company’s billing practices violated two federal laws:

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). Each law is designed to protect consumers from being forced into expensive and risky settlements. In addition, the lawsuit says that the company’s policies and practices allowed it to fail to provide adequate compensation when it was responsible for charging its customers for inaccurate and unverifiable charges. This is common in the beverage and food product industry. If you feel that you have been a victim of CenturyLink’s billing practices, you should contact a reputable consumer attorney who will be able to determine whether or not you have a case.

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