A little over a week before moving into my new house, I called the power company to set up service with them. They offered to help me “explore my options” with different internet companies. Because I am not thrilled with Comcast as a company, I decided to explore these options. The person who helped me claimed I could get a better deal with Century Link. I was skeptical.
Several years ago, over a series of months, I wasted more hours than I care to count on the phone with Qwest discussing the multiple issues I had with their DSL service. Ultimately an electrician from their company got me a huge refund for several months’ worth of service I did not receive because the wiring to my house had been so old it wasn’t capable of managing the service I was supposed to have.
When Mr. Power Company Helper Guy urged me to switch, I was more than reluctant. However, he assured me that more had changed than the name, and that I could get blazing fast internet for about $20 less a month than I was paying Telecommunication Monopoly, I mean Comcast. I went ahead and signed up. However, Mr. Helper then transferred me to someone at Century Link to set up my account who read a disclaimer about the speeds, and I began to have buyer’s remorse nearly immediately. The speeds quoted were apparently only the fastest possible, and not likely what I would get. Oh great. Here we go again.
After I got off the phone I called Comcast and without explaining why I wondered, asked what speeds my price was supposed to be getting me. They were over double the Century Link speeds. The guy then set me up with a better plan and even faster speeds. The Century Link deal didn’t even come close. I then called back the power company and explained I wanted to cancel the order. They said it was too new and to call in the next day. The next day I called back and was assured the order was cancelled, but the person said I should call Century Link to confirm, which I did. They said the order wasn’t even there yet, but the guy made a note for my address. I called again a couple of days later just to make sure. The person who answered said there was no account and that it must never have been set up. He assured me that there was no chance I would get the service I did not want. Still skeptical, but okay, if you say so.
The following weekend we moved into the house. On Monday I went to work. When I arrived home in the late afternoon, there was a package on my stoop. Curious, I ran up to grab it before pulling into the garage. What do you think it was? Surprise! A modem from Century Link. Damn. Not only do I already have a modem that is just great thanks, but there wasn’t supposed to be any Century Link anything in my life.
Back to the phone. Back to holds and voice activated services that couldn’t figure out where I needed to be. Finally a person who was able to give me a return authorization number and his assurances that the account was closed, there would be no residual expense, and that my time with Qwest, aka Century Link was over. Satisfied, I believed him. Fool I be.
A week and a half later, a thin envelope arrived bearing a bill for $34.95. I didn’t even bother calling the louts at Century Link. I wrote a short note on the bill stating that I had cancelled my service prior to installation and that there should be no charges. I mostly believed that the bill issuance had crossed paths with the modem return.
Wrong again. Today’s mail bore an even thinner, more demanding insistence that I pay Century Link, this time $19.99. I put on my boxing gloves and called in. I could not explain to the telephone computer person my reasons for calling in a manner that satisfied. It finally transferred me to the wrong person, for whom I had to wait ten minutes, and that person had to transfer me to the right person. They may not have programmed in “Your fucking stupid company keeps billing me for shit I don’t want, you lousy corporate, monopolistic bastards.” but that was the line that finally did result in a human, so I suppose it worked.
Once I reached a human who could assist, I explained my situation. He asked the usual litany of questions designed to prove I am me, then wanted to take a few minutes and “review the account.” Sure, I’ve been on hold for 20 minutes, what’s a few more? He said the bill was for installation, then let me know he would do what he could to see about getting me a credit. A credit? No, sir. A credit will not do. I cancelled your service before it was ever installed. I don’t want a credit. I want the charges gone, understand? He said I needed to be patient. I explained that I was thoroughly out of patience. That I lost patience the day I came home to a modem and hours of holds and transfers. That his employer had stolen time I could be spending with my children, walking the dog, doing my job, washing the dishes, anything except wasting hours on the phone with a bunch of incompetent hacks who couldn’t seem to get this right. And that I would never pay them one penny of my money ever, especially considering all of the experiences I had suffered at the hands of their incompetence. He was silent, then he said I needed to trust him. I said I would try, but his coworkers had not instilled much trust. He said the difference was that when he said he did something, he really did it. I hope so.
I did not mail back the second bill. I’m hoping the phone calls suffice. We will see. In the meantime, I thought I would use this opportunity to warn every and all that Century Link is still Qwest, albeit with a brand new name, and that like Ally nee’ GMAC, and Springleaf nee’ American General Finance (see my observations about this here), they are still they same crappy monopolistic corporation, the same customer no-service, the same mess up even the most simple of requests, the same stay-on-hold-for-800-years, the same transfer to 13 departments before getting someone who may or may not fix your issue piece of shit company they have always been. Changing the name didn’t change anything except a few letters.
When I worked for the Department of Justice a few years ago, 80% of all complaints about utilities (including electric, gas, phone, and all other utilities) to the Public Utilities Commission were about Qwest. They would go after non-English speaking people and the elderly and set them up on expensive plans the people couldn’t afford. We fired them years ago after they double-charged us every month and refused to acknowledge our payments, and also initially lied to us about what our monthly fee would be. And they think changing their name will improve their reputation after years of abusing customers? Pffft.
And so the administrative letters to the FTA and other assorted artificial entities begin.
Century link, “whose” purported high speed of 12 mp[bs] is obviously slower than I enjoyed from a podunk company I was paying to provide me 1mps is alleges I don’t exist, even as I speak to “it” via the phone that doesn’t exist.
If you have choices aside from [last]Centurylink, take them. Your level of content will be greatly improved. For another example and as indicated in this blog, wandering the maze of automated choices is an exercise in futility. I found myself at Western Union trying to inquire of a speed upgrade, for crying out loud.
Can we start a bounty on these people?