Qwest: The Phone Line We Installed In Your Father's Nursing Home Never Worked, But Pay Us Anyway

My father grew up in Ottawa, a small Midwest town in Illinois. For the majority of his life, he had 2 full-time jobs. He was the receiving clerk for a hardware store and he was also a house painter. He went to work between 3 to 5 AM and rarely got home until after dark, 6 days a week. He was very active and self-sufficient so when in 1992 he was diagnosed with a particularly aggressive case of multiple sclerosis, he was devastated as was my entire family. His MS never went into regression and within 5 years he was wheelchair bound, in a nursing home, and very reliant on others.

In 2006, my mother and I moved to Owatonna, Minnesota so she could be near her family because she too developed major medial condition and needed familial support. Of course, my father also moved here to support her. He was placed in a local nursing home and was fairly content, with one large exception. After living 60+ year in the same town and becoming a something of a local fixture, it’s only natural that he wanted to keep in touch with his friends and family there. Obvious answer, get a phone.

So enters QWest

With the permission and encouragement of the nursing home staff, he had a phone line put in that was independent of the building systems, so he could call out and people could call him without having to go through an operator. The very same day the line was put in, which had been done while he was in the dining room having lunch, he found he could not receive calls. Within a week, a technician checked his line and said everything was working perfectly. He was wrong. My father still could not receive calls. After yet another technician checked and failed to actually do anything about it, my father canceled his service.

The next month he received a bill. A bill for services not rendered.

Quickly, he called Qwest and explained that he never had service and did not think he should be required pay for nothing. The next month, received another bill. He called, again, and explained the situation, again, and said he was refusing to pay the bill. He was told that, according to their records, complete service ha been rendered and if he did not pay, they would send his account to collections. Since then, my father, mother and I have contacted Qwest numerous times trying to explain that, indeed, the line didn’t operate correctly. We have been stonewalled and now my mother, who is retired and has large medical bills, has to pay the bill or her credit rating will drop. Of course, I have offered many times to pay the bill for them, but as I am not on the account and my parents won’t accept the money or even tell me how much they must pay, I cannot.

Evidently Qwest’s policy is that all customers are liars and that they themselves are infallible. They must need every single penny, as my father’s bill cannot exceed $200. I understand, as it’s also a lot of money to my parents.

I now know Qwest spells their name that way. Firstly, for the geographic allusion. Secondly, because U don’t matter to them.


There are several things you can do here. First you can escalate your complaint with an EECB (executive email carpet bomb), which might be the easiest solution.

Another way to get Qwest’s attention is to file an official complaint with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. They’ll forward your complaint to Qwest and follow up on it to make sure it gets resolved. Finally, you can also complain to the Minnesota Attorney General, Lori Swanson.

If you do end up having to pay the bill, make sure you get a copy of your phone records showing that no calls came through, then take Qwest to small claims court to recover the money you paid for the non-working phone. It’s easier than it sounds and they might not even show up to argue, in which case you’ll get a default judgment.

The email format for qwest is FirstName.LastName@qwest.com, and a list of their top executives can be found here. For more information about how to learn to launch an EECB, click here.

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