Qwest Messes Up, Demands I Pay For It

Joe convinced Qwest to put his internet service/DirecTV bundle on vacation hold and noticed his old monthly credits continued to show up on his bill. After months of letting it slide, Qwest wants Joe to pay back the money for which it mistakenly credited him.

He writes:

My name is Joe, and up until recently I was bundled with Qwest/DirecTV. I wanted to leave and bundle with the local cable competitor but they held me up with a phantom two year verbal contract (that I never agreed to, but after some internet research on the subject found there was little recourse) but that’s a story for a different day. After some work, they agreed to work with me and put my services on vacation hold for 6 months until this contract was up. Great, at $10 a month for just internet I am still saving money with my cable services. Then I notice they are inadvertently still applying a 36.50 a month credit to my account offsetting my 9.99. “Great!” I said, that’s justice! Now I won’t be stuck with a bogus $200 early termination fee and Qwest is covering their sham internet! They’re getting their just desserts!

Not so fast; I received a bill today for 63.46 and a warning that my account was past due. How could this be? Well Qwest decided to include three separate charges on my bill titled “Adjustment to correct over-credit of discount on…” for the last three months totalling $86.00 (including a partial month of July where they found their error.)

What nonsense, sure they caught the mistake, I can’t begrudge them that, but holding up a customer for the dough? Saying they’re past due? Surely they can’t do that. So I called customer service and got to “Marcus” in the Salt Lake City office. I explain the situation very politely explaining the situation and the outlandishness of asking me to fix their accounting error. Marcus tells me that I should have called them to report the problem earlier and that “If you went to a store and bought a $10 item but accidentally gave them a $100 you would want your money back.” I said, yes of course, but his reasoning was bogus. Using the same analogy, with the roles corrected if I bought a $100 item for $10 due to a pricing mistake, completed the transaction and went home I wouldn’t expect the store to bill me for the remaining $90. He couldn’t form a contrary argument but still wouldn’t reverse the charges so I e-mailed Qwest:

“I recently received a bill for 63.46 which included three separate “adjustment to correct over credit of discount” charges which added up to a whopping $86.

This seemed outrageous to me, surely when a company makes a mistake they don’t expect the customer to cover for it. I have never dealt with a company who would demand money from me to correct their accounting mistake, I’ve told probably a dozen people about this situation, and none of them have ever heard anything like this either!

I called customer service, because clearly this isn’t ethical business practice and I expected a swift resolution. Marcus, at the Salt Lake City office did reverse SOME of the charges, but he contested that if I went to a store and bought a $10 item and inadvertently paid with a $100 then I would want my money back, regardless of the completed transaction.

While this is true, it’s fallacious reasoning. In the same analogy, but with the customer and service provider in the correct rolls, I could have purchased a $100 item at only $10 through a store’s pricing error. Once the transaction had been completed it would be unheard of (and equally ridiculous to this situation) that the store would then come to my house and demand the remaining $90.

(I told Qwest to) please own up to the mistake your company made and re-apply the credits to my account, it was not my error and I should not be liable for it. This is not my first negative dealing with Qwest, but I’d like it to be my last.

Do you think Qwest should work out a compromise with Joe since it was the company’s error or that Joe should have to pay in full?

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.