CenturyLink has concluded its independent committee investigation into allegations of overbilling and overcharging for services, and found no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing by any member of management.
However, the findings do acknowledge mistakes and lack of sufficient monitoring.
Class-action suits have been filed against CenturyLink in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Washington, in addition to a suit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson and numerous investor class-action suits. They accuse CenturyLink of cramming or stuffing fees that customers never agreed to for services.
During the past six months, the committee with independent counsel from O’Melveny and Myers and forensic data analysts, collected and searched more than 9.7 million documents as well as 4.3 terabytes of billing data consisting of more than 32 billion billing records, according to CenturyLink. They also interviewed more than 200 current and former employees, it said.
Mark Molzen, CenturyLink spokesman, tells Channel Partners his company is “pleased that the investigation confirmed there was no fraud or wrongdoing … and that cramming was neither widespread nor condoned.”
“We remain committed to maintaining an ethical business culture based on our unifying principles, which include honesty and integrity and a commitment to excellence,” he said. “Our principles are at the core of who we are as a company and we want our customers and partners to feel that in every interaction with us. Our focus is, and will continue to be, providing quality products and a positive customer experience. We intend to vigorously defend ourselves in the pending lawsuits.”
In addition to finding no evidence of fraud or wrongdoing, the committee’s findings were:
* Company management did not condone or encourage cramming, and the evidence did not show that cramming was common at the company; and when instances of cramming were found to have occurred, the company took “reasonable actions to discipline employees.” However, the company’s investment in consumer sales monitoring was not “sufficiently effective” in proactively detecting and quantifying potential cramming.
* Some of CenturyLink’s products, pricing and promotions were “complex and caused confusion, and the resulting bills sometimes failed to meet customer expectations.” Also, limitations in ordering and billing software made it difficult to provide customers with estimates of their bills and confirmation of service letters that reflected all discounts, prorated charges, taxes and fees.
* Systems and human errors led to certain customers not receiving an offered point-of-sale discount, and CenturyLink did not fully address this issue in a timely manner for some customers.
“The investigation confirmed my long-held belief that there was no fraud or wrongdoing at the company and that cramming was neither widespread nor condoned,” said Glen Post, CenturyLink’s CEO. “However, we know there have been times when we haven’t provided our customers the experience they deserve. We have identified a number of areas where we can improve the customer experience and have already made significant progress in addressing those areas.”