How to Survive as CenturyLink Customer

I have had the unfortunate luck to live in a CenturyLink monopoly service area for many years. I have learned a lot about how they operate over the years. When dealing with CenturyLink I recommend that you treat it like you are in an active lawsuit with them from day one. Be civil but be on your guard. Here are my tips:

1. Record Calls: If one-party phone recording is legal in your state, by all means, download a call recording app and record all your phone interactions, including voicemails left by their agents. Label and back them up for later reference.

2. Chat Transcripts: Don't just have them sent to your email, print them (whether to pdf, or saved online, or on paper). Just emailing them causes all numbers to be scrambled in the transcript– which is ostensibly for your security, but it can obscure information about what you agreed to pay, or what they agreed to credit your account, confirmation numbers, etc. If you find that even your print transcript has scrambled numbers, use the screen capture option.

3. Email: You can request managers and customer service agents to contact you via email (keep the emails obviously). If you email customer service through the CenturyLink website, make sure you have all the text copied to another document and get a screenshot (showing time and date) of the email before you submit it.

4. Autopay: Avoid this. It seems to be a core principle of their business to overcharge customers for service (random fees, unauthorized account changes, prematurely ending promotional rates, etc)– with autopay they can reach into your bank account and steal your money automatically. Good luck getting it back, and if you manage it, it will be in the form of credits on your account, not refunded to your bank account. They have been trying to force customers into signing up for autopay by hiking monthly rates by $10 unless you agree to autopay. Do not fall for it. It will cost you so much more than you could possibly save (in time and money).

5. Speed Pay: Just don't. They may give you a story about how you can't pay online without going through "Speed Pay" (an arrangement they have made with Western Union) which adds at least $3.50 to your bill. You should never have to pay a fee to pay your bill. You can still send in a check for payment, check with your bank or financial institution to see if they have a bill pay feature, in which they write and mail the check for you, for free. This has an added bonus of allowing you to easily track if payments were received by Century Link. Century Link is not above claiming that you missed payments month after the fact. Having the hard evidence from your bank account showing that Century Link cashed your check on [date] can save you a lot of money.

6. Take Notes: Along with recording calls, keeping transcripts, opting for email correspondence– you should also be keeping notes. Consider keeping a dedicated Century Link notebook/document for logging the number of hours you are having to deal with customer service, how it makes you feel (emotional distress), how Century Link's actions are affecting your life (social, emotional, medical, financial, business, etc). Their customer service agents are more likely to be outright abusive than not (think "internet troll" levels of abuse).

7. Speed Tests: Using a tethered computer (physically attached to the modem/router) run speed tests regularly and record the results in your notes. Ideally, you should test at the same time of day/day of week/using same website. If you notice that you are consistently getting speeds below what you are paying for, complain, and if that doesn't work– file a complaint with FTC.

All of this can help you survive and save you a considerable amount of money. However, Century Link is bound to take advantage of you in some way, and in most areas, they have a monopoly over DSL internet service. But you have the right to file complaints with the FTC, BBB, etc. Directv was recently called out thanks to complaints made to the FTC by victims– err, consumers.

I realize this sounds like a lot of work– and it is– but it is the only way to defend yourself until Century Link has competition. And if some beautiful legal mind wants to start a class action lawsuit against them, you will have stacks of evidence to help it along.

If you have tips, please add them!

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