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Minnesota AG sues CenturyLink saying it 'deceptively charged' some Minnesotans

The lawsuit says CenturyLink would promise one price, but then charge people more.

Minnesota's attorney general is accusing CenturyLink of charging people more than what it said it would.

AG Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit against CenturyLink on Wednesday, calling the company's practices "fraudulent," noting it uses a "complex and elaborate pricing system" where CenturyLink "routinely fails to live up to its promises" about how much people will pay for cable and internet service.

“Shopping for internet and cable TV service isn’t easy if companies don’t give straight answers about the prices they will charge,” Swanson said in a statement.

The lawsuit alleges CenturyLink promises certain prices to "attract price-sensitive" customers, but then "deceptively charged" some Minnesotans more than what it promised when they bought the service. The suit also claims CenturyLink would refuse to honor the quoted price if the customer happened to notice they were being charged more, a news release says.

The lawsuit gives dozens of examples of Minnesotans who were charged more than what they were quoted. Among them:

  • A Blaine man was told he'd be charged $39.97 a month for cable, but he was actually charged $71.97 a month.
  • A man in Columbia Heights being quoted $14.95 a month for internet service, but he ended up being charged $29.95 per month.

Swanson argues CenturyLink is aware of what it is doing, and is asking a judge impose civil penalties and require that the company pay back restitution to people who were misled about what they were buying, among other things.

You can read the 28-page complaint against CenturyLink here. If you want to report a complaint to the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, you can call 651-296-3353 or download a complaint form here.

A statement to GoMN from CenturyLink regarding the lawsuit says:

"We have been cooperating with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office since its inquiry began and have provided all information requested. We are disappointed that the Attorney General has chosen a press conference to communicate her concerns instead of contacting CenturyLink directly. We take these allegations seriously and will review and respond in due course."

Tips for buying internet or cable service

The attorney general's office has some tips for people who are shopping around to buy cable or internet service. Here are some:

– Ask for how much the total monthly price will be – including all those taxes, fees and surcharges that may be tacked on.

– Ask how long the price you're quoted is valid for.

– Find out if there are any exceptions that could make your bill go up.

– And ask the company to confirm their offer in writing.

If you're looking for more information on buying internet service, check out this story from Nerd Wallet or this tip sheet from the Federal Trade Commission.

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