Court order: CenturyLink must reform sales and billing practices

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The cable, phone and internet provider CenturyLink has been ordered to make some changes in Minnesota in a recent lawsuit against company.

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson announced Monday that CenturyLink must “better disclose its prices and fees."

Swanson filed a lawsuit against the Louisiana-based company in July, alleging that it billed higher amounts than its sales agents quoted customers for internet and television services and then frequently refused to honor the prices quoted to consumers who caught the discrepancies on their bills.

Under this order, CenturyLink - whether selling its own internet or television services or selling products for DirectTV - is prohibited from making false statements to Minnesota residents about the prices and terms of those products.  

According to the release, it is also prohibited from charging Minnesota customers a greater amount than that disclosed at the time of sale. 

CenturyLink must “clearly disclose the following at the time of sale: the monthly base price of the services being purchased; the amount of each recurring monthly fee on top of the monthly base price; the amount of any one-time fee, such as activation and installation fees; the amount of the first invoice and future invoices; the time period for which the quoted prices apply and any restrictions on a consumer’s ability to receive the quoted price.”

Swanson obtained a Consent Judgement with DirectTV in 2011 that prohibited the company from misrepresenting its prices and required the company to clearly disclose any conditions or limitations that may alter the price quoted to the consumer.

The lawsuit includes examples of consumers who were quoted one price but charged another. In one case, a man from Blaine was quoted a base monthly rate of $39.97 for television service, but was charged a base rate of $71.97 per month instead. A man from Columbia Heights was quoted a base monthly rate of $14.95 for internet service, but was charged a base rate of $29.95 per month instead.