centurylinkThe Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission announced today that it has reached a settlement with CenturyLink over billing errors related to taxes and surcharges. The telecommunications company has agreed to pay $31,300 in fines as a part of the settlement.

At issue in the case are errors in the amounts that CenturyLink charged customers, including improper taxes, incorrect local and federal access charges and improper billing of low-income customers who qualified for the Washington Telephone Assistance Program.

In addition to the fine, CenturyLink has agreed to install a “technical upgrade” that should help prevent such errors from occurring in the future. It will also conduct ongoing quality assurance monitoring to make sure other problems don’t crop up.

As a part of the settlement, the UTC will continue to monitor CenturyLink’s practices to ensure that it does not repeat the same billing problems in the future.

The news comes the same day that CenturyLink announced it plans to offer Seattle customers high-speed gigabit internet service in the near future.

Update: CenturyLink provided the following statement from spokeswoman Meg Andrews to GeekWire via email:

“The UTC investigation covered 2011 and 2012 customer complaints surrounding billing errors, some of which were related to changes in tax rates for federal universal service support. These errors affected customers statewide. Upon discovery of the errors, we fixed the problem, credited all of our customers and addressed other customer-specific complaints.”

[Editor’s Note: CenturyLink is a GeekWire sponsor.]

Comments

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    So, let me get this straight. CenturyLink may have overcharged me as a customer. The state of Washington’s solution to this is to fine CenturyLink, giving the state money from CenturyLink.

    But there’s nothing about refunding the overcharge back to me, right?

    So essentially CenturyLink ends up having levied a de facto ad hoc tax on its customers for the state and gets to keep whatever overage there might be from what they collected and what they have to pay.

    I have this right, right?

  • cornichon

    Yup, Christopher, you’ve got it right. Century Link schemes to bilk its own customers by hundreds of thousands of dollars, then spends plenty of money on legal bills (cost of doing business, covered by state-approved fee structure) to defend itself, agrees to pay a pittance of a “fine” (also, no doubt, passed along to rate payers), and comes out smelling like a rose. How do we, as consumers, get around this? We cannot.

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