CenturyLink Inc., a telecommunications company, has been sued in California federal court based on allegations made in a separate wrongful termination lawsuit by a former employee that the company ran a sales incentive scheme and fired her for blowing the whistle on it. The new class action complaint comes as the Louisiana-based company is in the middle of a $34 billion merger with Level 3 Communications Inc. The class action lawsuit seeks to establish a class of consumers harmed by a high-pressure sales culture. The employee, Heidi Heiser, said in her wrongful termination lawsuit that this culture left customers paying millions of dollars for accounts they did not request.
The class action lawsuit cites Heiser’s allegations and well as similar accusations posted on social media and consumer review websites by people identifying themselves as CenturyLink customers. It also accuses CenturyLink of fraud, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. This class action lawsuit was brought on behalf of consumers by the Geragos & Geragos law firm led by Mark Geragos.
Lawsuit Alleges Fraud
The complaint says what Heiser experiences as an employee at the company and CenturyLink’s corporate culture are consistent with the experiences of potentially millions of consumers who “have been defrauded by CenturyLink.” The lawsuit puts the damages to consumers between $600 million and $12 billion. CenturyLink has about 6 million subscribers. The company maintains that Heiser’s claims “are completely inconsistent” with company policy and culture. The lawsuit names two plaintiffs, Craig McLeod and Steven L. McCauley, who are both current customers of CenturyLink.
McLeod said during a conversation with a sales agent in April, he was offered a faster Internet link for an extra $2 a month with a two-year contract, which he accepted. But, as it turned out, McLeod said he incurred considerably higher fees than quoted and was even charged for a repair that was never made. Heiser said she became increasingly concerned at what she observed at CenturyLink after news of Wells Fargo’s regulatory troubles broke in September. In that case, the bank’s employees opened bank and credit card accounts without customers’ consent due to pressure from management.
Class Action Lawsuits
This lawsuit is yet another example, which demonstrates how class action lawsuits serve as a vehicle to hold unethical corporations accountable. While one person cannot hold a multi-billion corporation accountable for wrongdoing or defrauding consumers, a group of consumers banding together have the power to do that.