MY FRUSTRATING STORY WITH CENTURYLINK'S INEXCUSABLY BAD SERVICE
Is CenturyLink an incurably evil corporation? Has CenturyLink reached a point where their success allows them to dismiss good customer service? Can CenturyLink "afford" to put corporate profits ahead of treating customers with respect and showing that they truly care? Sadly, yes.
CenturyLink as a company is off the edge of human, and is beyond fixing. Their internal communication is so flawed and customer service is so bad, that it probably costs the company millions of dollars each year. But they're making so much money, nobody seems to care. And apparently, nobody has the power or ability to affect change internally. While there are some truly sincere people who work for this corporation, the company itself has become an evil uncontrollable entity.
In 2009, I had to switch to CenturyLink internet service due to Mediacom (yet another sad story of a company) not offering coverage in that particular area. I had ordered the 5Mbps internet package, but was only able to attain 0.5Mbps during the 2 years I paid for the service.
When I moved, I decided to stick with the company with hopes that they would be able to provide better service due to the area my new house was located. The service techs who came to do the install were great. Always super friendly, and very honest.
But unfortunately, we weren't able to get the advertised speed of 5Mbps. The best we got was around 0.75Mbps to 1.5Mbps on a good day. I had 3 service techs that visited over the year, all finding problems in the network and connections, but none able to solve the problem of the slow speed. All were very professional, and sincerely apologetic for what was going on.
At the end of the 1st frustrating year, I was talked into ordering the 10Mbps by someone internally at CenturyLink. They explained that I needed more "room" between the top of the rated speed and what I was getting. So in order to get 5Mbps download speeds, I needed to order the 10Mbps package.
As much as this didn't make sense, and as unfair and stupid that this was, I fell for it. I ordered the 10Mbps service and got a new modem. But the speed didn't improve at all. I had several more visits from service technicians, all of which told me that I had fed one bad story from the company, and that it wasn't my fault. They all confirmed that there was just some unknown issue in the network preventing the service from working properly to give the rated download speed that I was paying for.
In my complete frustration, I decided to put up with Mediacom at the end of the second year, and I dumped CenturyLink. I asked them to make a deal with me, since I owed a balance $360 when I canceled. I told them to pro-rate my balanced based on the fact that I received about 10% of what they falsely advertised that I would get with the internet package, as confirmed by several of their own service techs. They refused.
I made the switch to Mediacom and and we never did make a settlement. 5 or 6 years passed by, and I let the account make its rounds in collections. I gave up all hope of CenturyLink doing the right thing.
Fast forward to Fall of 2015, and the story gets interesting...
Someone from CenturyLink came pounding on my door one weekend, disturbing my valuable leisure time, to sell me on a "new deal". I told the salesman that I had no interest in anything CenturyLink had to offer, thanks to their terrible unreliable service. But then he said the magic words: Fiber-Optic is here!
I decided to let him talk, since he had some rather significant news. The fiber optic service was now in my neighborhood, and the connection was right there on the utility pole outside my front door. He said I could get CenturyLink 1 Gigabit internet service plus Prism TV for about $50 less per month than what I was paying Mediacom.
He spent an hour talking me into giving it a try, and since I would be saving money, I figured I'd let him have my business. I figured CenturyLink owed me a good deal anyway, after what had happened years ago.
We set up the appointment and away he went. 2 weeks later, the day before I was supposed to have my service set up, I got a phone call from a rather apologetic CenturyLink sales rep telling me that they unfortunately could not go through with the install because they found that I had an unpaid $360 bill.
This was the first hint to me that CenturyLink has absolutely ZERO internal communications. Why in the world would someone in sales send out an agent to waste an hour of my time, only to be told "we can't sell you our service because you owe a bill"?
This is generally how the big telecoms work. The right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing, and thanks to decentralized sales and service, nobody has a clue what is going on.
I thought I would give them the benefit of the doubt that they might have enough common sense that it would be beneficial to work out a deal. Since I was potentially signing up for a 5-year contract for their service, I figured they would settle the balance and move on, and take my money.
Not the case.
After talking to a representative for over 30 minutes, the answer was "no". But the reason was that she could not find the department that had the authority to work a deal. She agreed that it was unfair that I paid for a service which never delivered what was promised to me for more than 2 years. She also agreed that the company would stand to benefit from my huge monthly payments for the next 5 years if they settled my balance. But she didn't know how to get it done.
That's when things got ridiculous.
After talking for a half an hour, she said that I would have to speak to billing because only they had the authority to settle the debt. I wasted another 30 minutes on hold waiting for a billing representative. After repeating the entire story, I was told that the billing department didn't have the authority to make that decision. They would have to send me to customer retention.
Transferred yet again, I waited in the queue for a customer retention representative, only to be told that they didn't have the authority to make that decision, and I'd have to be sent to customer service. Realizing this was the same place that I started, I told them I wanted to speak with a manager.
Finally, I was given to a manger, and was able to tell my entire story. I spent yet another 30 to 45 minutes on the phone, and the manager completely understood where I was coming from, and promised to get to the bottom of it and find a solution and compromise.
Talking on the phone to nearly 5pm, the manager had to call it a day, and promised to phone me back the next morning at 8:30am sharp after she had gotten everything sorted out, with the proper approvals, so I could settle my balance or have it waived, and sign up for my new service.
She never called back.
I tried to get back to a manager two more times, and to no avail. But I was ready to step out of the customer service Twilight Zone at CenturyLink. The company that charged me thousands of dollars for a service that never worked as promised, even verified by their own technicians, was refusing to accept my future service over a $360 unresolved bill.
Here we have a company that is so big, internally disconnected, and so uncaring about the humans they serve, they would rather pass on roughly $10,000 of profit over five years because they are unwilling to resolve a previous $360 balance. And not a singe person in the company will take ultimate responsibility to see it resolved.
There are some really sincere people who work at CenturyLink, but as a company, they have no soul. The company has grown beyond their ability to control its profit-grubbing nature. It makes me feel bad for the good people who at least try. But it is a work in futility.
In conclusion, I'll just say this... CenturyLink, you stink. Period.
I'm sad that I allowed you to waste so much of my time and emotional energy. I'm throwing in the towel, giving up the fight to give you my money. I'm accepting the fact that you're just a soul-less corporation that doesn't have the capability of caring for the people who make your profits possible. But at least there are some decent humans there who tried.
Here's to Google Fiber coming to my town soon. We can only hope for the best.