Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Wednesday that he has reached an $8.9 million settlement with Louisiana-based Internet provider CenturyLink for overcharging Minnesota customers. The money will be distributed to customers who file overcharge claims for reimbursement.
The settlement also requires CenturyLink to make some changes in its billing practices, such as honoring all promised prices and discounts. The company also needs to submit audits to the attorney general’s office over the next three years to prove compliance.
The settlement comes after consumers complained about CenturyLink prices to the attorney general’s office, which subsequently filed a consumer-protection lawsuit in July 2017.
The suit alleges that CenturyLink lied about the price of its internet and television services for Minnesota customers. In some cases, the company charged higher prices than customers were told, or used complex rules and exceptions to deceive customers into paying more than they initially agreed to, according to Ellison. CenturyLink also obstructed the state’s attempts to access audits and other crucial sources of information about the alleged defrauding incidents.
In 2017, Ellison’s office received more complaints about CenturyLink than any other company.
Later investigations revealed that CenturyLink had defrauded more than 300,000 customers in Minnesota, and had allegedly committed similar acts in other states, including Colorado, Oregon, and Washington.
Despite settling, CenturyLink spokesman Mark Molzen told the Star Tribune that the company disputes the allegations.
Customers who believe they were impacted by price defrauding dating back to 2011 are eligible for reimbursement.
More than 5,000 customers have filed claims to date.