If CenturyLink Had Competent Web Developers, They Could Have My Money

Daniel has had it with his ISP, CenturyLink. If you don’t live in their service area, you may still recognize the company’s name, since they were a contender for Worst Company in America 2012, knocked out in the first round. But not going all the way in the tournament doesn’t mean that CenturyLink/Qwest customers are all satisfied. Daniel, for one, couldn’t pay his bill online because the company’s website wouldn’t work. Isn’t everyone trying to push customers toward online bill pay, not away from it?

He wrote the company a letter, offering his humble advice as a web developer himself.

Century Link,

I have about had it up to here with your website.

I have tried to pay my bill twice and even though the site says my payment was submitted,
my payments have not shown up anywhere. I have screen shots to prove that I tried to submit my payment on time. DO NOT disconnect my internet service because I have proof that I submitted my payment on time, even if your system does not. Please contact me to receive the proof.

I am a web developer and noticed this error repeated 10 times on the Payment Submitted page:

“Uncaught TypeError: Cannot read property ‘style’ of null”

That’s a CSS property and that SHOULD NOT cause an entire page to fail to load payment details. The Loading throbber spun continually and would not receive any information.

Customer Service is unavailable on the weekends. Not sure if that is a good idea for customers who cannot pay their bill.

I received a pop up chat message asking if I needed any help. I was surprised and thought I could chat with someone. I clicked the chat window only to be informed that Customer Service is unavailable. That is purely unprofessional.

This reminds me of another problem I had earlier last month. When I tried to sign up for an account online, I was required to input my security code. All I had was a 3 digit security code, but it required a 4 character code. There was no way to find that code until I received my first bill. Also, in the form above where it asks for my customer information, it only needs 3 digits for the customer code! Why is there so much inconsistency?

The century link facebook page shows other unhappy customers. I see I am not alone. Also, you may want to check out this site.

May I humbly submit my congratulations for qualifying as one of the semifinalists in the “Worst Company In America” poll on Consumerist.

Your company image is EXTREMELY poor. Get on a new system fast, and win back the confidence of your customers. Inform your customers of the changes you will be making. DO NOT discard this message. Forward this message to all of the people who make decisions in Century Link. I hope they are doing something to rectify the situation.


A disgruntled century link customer


Edit Your Comment

  1. Blackadar says:

    Nice rant. But since that’s all it is, it’ll end up in the trash.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      It’s a rant full of truth about CenturyLink’s terrible service. What would make it better? Do we need to kiss up to these business narcissists too, is that what you’d prefer?

      • longfeltwant says:

        What would make it better is specific suggestions for change. That’s the standard advice from Consumerist for messages to companies: make concrete observations, suggest specific improvements, demand timely responses.

        • ChuckECheese says:

          The OP is full of suggestions for improvement. Just read the problems he outlines; they are quite specific. CenturyLink can fix the things he suggests. Then CL can go to the other websites he references, where there are more suggestions, even if they are written in frustration. Weird how so many think that any display of honest emotion negates a message.

          • TarpAsh says:

            Emotion doesn’t “negate” a message. Emotional people may very well have legitimate concerns and opinions. But displays of emotion, particularly customers being dramatic, makes it harder for customers to communicate with company reps because they reps are more likely to dismiss the message as phony or illegitimate, like much of the customer’s emotion.

            • ChuckECheese says:

              New rules as promulgated by you:

              Customers should not have emotions, only opened wallets.
              Business narcissists cannot abide by any show of displeasure at the narrow, profit-centered, anti-consumer and pro-management perogatives, even if those perogatives result in failures of the core business (billing, service provision, customer service).
              People who show ordinary human reactions to being taken advantage of should be scorned and shunned.
              Anybody who complains at all is a complainer and therefore the complaints are illegitimate.

              Got it!

      • humphrmi says:

        I’m sure CenturyLink employees don’t care what Blackadar would prefer, but most employees who received this email would probably delete the mail as somewhat hysterical and over dramatic. You can feel superior in writing a rant that will be deleted, or you can feel humble and write a better note that might get read, your choice.

      • blueman says:

        “business narcissists”

        No idea what this means, but I kind of like it.

    • smo0 says:

      As a century link customer… mostly because I don’t have another choice, I can tell you that that website is god-awful.

      The customer service isn’t too bad but they really hire the inept and uneducated, just by the way they SOUND and speak I can tell.

      They like to push their other products, I used to get calls EVERY DAY – from their sales. I took me 3 months to finally get off of all the lists and opt out of everything.

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    As a Qwest customer turned CenturyLink customer, I have to concur with his rant. Their online presence is pretty pathetic. In particular for a company that actually provides the internet connection for its customers.

    • nugatory says:


      I’ve tried three times to upgrade my DSL line to their 10mbps tier and three times nothing happened. I’ve tried in the store, on the phone and their internet chat. I did basically hang-up on the internet chat as the CR was more interested in getting me to sign up for a wireless plan than only upgrading my line

      • deathbecomesme says:

        You might be too far out for our 10mb plan. Our Dsl reaches out to ~18k feet. Our 10mb speeds are for customers that are

        • deathbecomesme says:

          …that are

          cut me off for some reason

          • deathbecomesme says:

            ok I give up

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              You trying to use special scripting like for italics? Try using the preview button before you post : – )

              • deathbecomesme says:

                It might have read it like that. I was using the less than sign. I was trying to say that only customers that are less than 7Kfeet out can have 10mb dsl

                • Ouze says:

                  I see you guys are as competent at posting forum comments as you are at website development and customer service.

                  • deathbecomesme says:

                    Hey I agree. The Customer Care reps piss us off everyday/all day. They transfer customers with billing questions that we can help with or any time they no longer feel like dealing with that customer anymore. Customer care reps aren’t allowed to hang up on customers so they come up with “creative” ways to get rid of you. We in tech support can hang up on you and don’t have to put up with your screaming, cursing, and crying.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Most of their customer service and I bet site development is outsourced to the Philippines.

  3. Marlin says:

    I for see a form letter being sent out and the OPs whole message in the trash can.
    That and your service being cut off soon. ;-)

  4. vivalakellye says:

    This is why I pay my CenturyLink bill by check. OP should also be aware of the fact that CL will not shut his/her service down due to a delay of payment (Even a monthlong delay, if it comes to that.)

    • Galium says:

      Mainly because most bills are in advance of use. Never did like that idea, I can see BOA trying to use this model (this overdraft fee is for your next overdraft)

      • Nighthawke says:

        Don’t give the bastards any ideas like that or they might just do it…

        Paying by check is the smart plan of action for it gives you a paper trail in case things should go wrong, especially with flaky operations like centurylink or qwest.

        • longfeltwant says:

          Paper trail? Hardly! Here’s how it works with paper checks:

          1. I write a check and put it in an envelope.
          2. Mailman comes and takes the envelope.
          3. My service is disconnected because the company claims they never received payment.

          That’s not so great. Here’s how it works with online payments:

          1. I make a payment using BillPay or whatever online service.
          2. I take a screenshot of confirmation page and/or receive an immediate email confirmation.
          3. If the service is disconnected or whatever, I now have the evidence which I wouldn’t have with a paper check.

          It’s also more convenient and less expensive (by the amount of one postage stamp).

  5. deathbecomesme says:

    I do tech support for Centurylink. Customer Service is open on Saturdays 8-5. We also have an automated bill pay over the phone. Just press the option for “pay by credit card/check” etc. I understand our website sucks but that is no excuse for your account to be turned off. Your account would have to be past due by atleast 90 days to be turned off/suspended. No excuses.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Then can you tell me the best time to get a good discounted rate?

      • deathbecomesme says:

        Unfortunately Qwest and Centurylink’s billing systems are still separate. We, on the centurylink side, cannot even pull up basic account info for Qwest customers and vice versa.

        • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

          Which is another I’ve been having issues with. It’s makes the customer experience terrible and makes me want to switch back to Comcast – and that’s saying something!!

          So are you telling me that as a former Qwest customer, I have no opportunities for discounted rates?

          • deathbecomesme says:

            If you are under contract then you are SOL. Even threats of cancelling service will be meet with “Ok, pay the etf” . If you are not under contract then call and threaten to cancel

            • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

              Not under contract right now. Comcast seemed to only offer discounted rates end of the month or some other specific time period. Is CL like that, any time I should target my attempt?

              • deathbecomesme says:

                Everyone is usually in a better mood on Fridays for obvious reasons lol. But any time of year/day should be fine

                • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                  Thanks for the help – I’ve tried calling and online chat with no success, in part because they can’t access my billing.

                  I might have to threaten to leave at this point.

                  • deathbecomesme says:

                    When you call mention specifically that you are a qwest customer and need to speak with qwest customer support. Ask them to “warm transfer” you. Warm= they stay on and make sure the rep that answers can help you/understands your issue. Most goodfornothing techs will just cold transfer you and dump you

                    • BrownLeopard says:

                      I remember my days of doing tech support for Cox up in the New England region. We weren’t allowed to cold transfer unless it was specifically not our support area (as in, they wanted billing). Since I did Mac + PC support, I always got calls cold-transferred to me by techs that just wanted to get the Mac customer off the phone, and by then they had to tell their troubles, again, to another tech (me).

                      Maybe CenturyLink should stop outsourcing their web design and things like this wouldn’t happen. Often in outsourcing, the CSS is written by one person, the front end code by another, and the back end code by yet another.

                    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

                      But I’m NOT a Qwest customer anymore. I know exactly what you mean, and why you’re probably right, but from a customer standpoint that’s pretty ridiculous. If they want to keep me a customer, they ought to treat me right.

  6. HogwartsProfessor says:

    Okay, this post is perfect timing for me. I could use a little advice from the tech Consumerists.

    I have an interview today and was looking over the company’s website. It is RIDDLED with spelling errors, and I even found rogue quotes. Dear God, I want to edit it SO BAD.

    A light bulb went off. What do I need to learn to edit websites? I am not interested in doing design from the ground up–I’m not very good at that kind of thing. I’m a writer and an English major. I also suck really badly at math (possible dyscalculia). Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you. :)

    • deathbecomesme says:

      HTML is not hard. The basics are especially easy if you are not a computer dummy. In Internet Explore if you go to “View” across the top and select “Source” it will display all the page info. Learn the basics first or that source info will read like greek to you

    • nugatory says:

      Its possible that you could simply document the URL, the original text and the “corrected” text and pass it off to whomever built the site for them to make the corrections. If they are using a website wizard to generate a simple business site, you’ll probably just log into the system and edit the text through the wizard.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      Thanks you guys! :)
      The community college here has some courses. I might look into them, especially if I can’t find anything and Vocational Rehabilitation ends up being a possibility.

    • Martha Gail says:

      It depends on how it’s built. If it’s something with a CMS you’d be able to log in and edit the pages pretty easily. If not, you’d need to learn to code.

  7. incident_man says:

    I left CenturyLink when it was Qwest because they were charging me $50/mo for just DSL….no phone service (didn’t need or want phone service just to get internet)……and it was 1.5 Mbps at that. I was informed that, since I didn’t have phone service, all I could get was 1.5 Mbps, which turned out to be more like 1.2 Mbps in the real world. I kept seeing their ads for special deals for higher speeds at lower prices, but was continually informed that, since I didn’t have a phone package, all I could get was 1.5 Mbps for $50.

    About 18 months ago, Charter had a special online offer for standalone internet for $29.99/month at 8 Mbps and I jumped on it. Afterwards, I called Qwest to cancel my internet and was transferred to the retention department, where I was informed that they could “upgrade” me to 7 Mbps at the same price. I told them that, while it was nice to be offered that option, that it was rather late, being that I already had Charter service set up and Charter was still $20/month cheaper.

    18 months later, I haven’t regretted my decision to dump Qwest, and Charter has since bumped me to 12 Mbps for the same price, without having to have a phone or cable-tv package. Granted, I don’t get the full 12 Mbps all the time, it sure beats what Qwest was giving me and at $20 less, too.

    • sock says:

      Qwest/Century Link probably doesn’t offer higher speeds in your neighborhood. I call them every year or so to see if they’ve improved their speeds in my area. CL will never upgrade their infrastructure in older areas. I’m fortunate to have a grandfathered-in (former) employee price, but it’s still high. (Not as high as Comcast, my only other choice).

      • kevinbiowa says:

        Hopefully CL won’t do to you what they did to customers on the east side of Des Moines; downgrade their service from 1.5 MB to 256 kb. CL did that because they wanted more Internet customers but didn’t want to pay upgrade costs for lines & equipment. A service tech told me they have been asking the home office to upgrade the lines on the east side, but the home office won’t do it.

      • incident_man says:

        Qwest offered me 7 Mbps, but ONLY if I had a phone package with it, otherwise it was strictly 1.5 Mbps.

      • incident_man says:

        Qwest offered me 7 Mbps, but ONLY if I had a phone package with it, otherwise it was strictly 1.5 Mbps.

  8. Opdelt says:

    OP is right… their website is garbage. My solution: I pay every single one of my bills through my bank’s BillPay service. My bill is the exact same every month with Century Link. I have it set to automatically pay the due amount each month. Works like a charm. In fact, I haven’t manually paid a bill, any bill, for months.

  9. Stickdude says:

    Minor nitpick – the error message itself is a javascript error, not a “CSS property” error. Specifically, the javascript engine is trying to access a property called “style” on some object, but the object itself is null.

    However, his main point is valid – code that bad never should have made it to production.

    • deathbecomesme says:

      Tell me about it. They’ll pay millions of dollars to get a stadium named after them but won’t pay to upgrade their networks equipment for current customers. We hear it all day in tech support.

  10. scoutermac says:

    I’ve had similar issues with AT&T. Although AT&T seems to be improving.

  11. SBacklin says:

    I have CenturyLink as my ISP as well. I have been with them since they were Qwest (Seattle, WA). Their web developers do suck. They would rave about a new page design but, it was only the primary home page and the rest was the old style. I saw so many mistakes in their design. I also wondered what these people were actually smokin’ while doing their job.

  12. goodpete says:

    As a fellow web developer, I thought I’d chime in on the error the OP describes.

    It’s actually a sort of cross between a CSS error and a JavaScript error. Without having access to the page in question, I can’t give specifics on the cause, but the basic problem is that the developer appears to have tried to modify a the style of an element via JavaScript (through the DOM object’s “style” property), but the element didn’t exist. This probably came from them making use of “document.getElementById(…)” to grab the element in question, as it returns null (rather than “undefined”) if the element is not found. Though I can’t be certain of that without seeing the code in question.

    Anyway, since the problem was in the JavaScript and does not appear to have impacted the OP’s ability to submit their payment (they saw a confirmation screen), then it’s highly unlikely that the error had anything to do with their payment being processed unless CenturyLink is showing a confirmation page and then submitting the payment via AJAX or something downright stupid like that.

    Therefore, I expect that the problem lies somewhere else in their system. The error could be coming from something as unrelated as a honked up advertisement or third-party JavaScript library on the page. So it’s hardly even a sign of amateurish developers at CenturyLink.

    Yet another possibility is that this is the result of some lazy browser-specific code. It could be that there’s an element that doesn’t properly get created in the OP’s browser-of-choice and when the JavaScript goes to restyle that element, it can’t find it. So maybe the OP might try a different browser to avoid the JavaScript error if it bothers him that much. Though I remain steadfast that the error is almost certainly unrelated to the payment not getting through.

    Moral of the story is that JavaScript errors pop up all the time because most web developers just aren’t very good at JavaScript. In fact, I have received 2 JavaScript errors on this very page and I haven’t even hit the submit button yet.


    • George says:

      if a javascript function is changing the style of a css element using the getelementbyid function and that element id is not spelled the same in both the function and the element id, that can cause the whole function to fail; and if that function is called from any other function; it may cause the calling function to fail also.

      • goodpete says:

        Correct. And after re-reading the post, I’m less sure that the JavaScript error in question /wasn’t the culprit.

        These days, lots of web pages do pretty much all server communications via AJAX. This could include the submission of the OP’s payment (not a great idea, but with proper CSRF protection, it’s not terrible). The spinner that didn’t go away is an indication of just what George said: A single JavaScript error can have a cascading effect across all JavaScript currently being executed.

        It’s possible that the code goes something like this (seriously, this is a generalized guess based on the info from the OP):

        1. Show the spinner
        2. Dim the page (or something like that)
        3. Submit the payment via AJAX
        4. Get the response and lay out the new page
        5. Un-dim the page
        6. Hide the spinner

        Let’s say step 2 has a line like this:

        document.getElementById(“pageDimmer”).style.display = “block”; //dim the page

        Now let’s also say that “pageDimmer” isn’t the correct ID for the element in question. If so, then the OP would experience the error he reported, plus the payment wouldn’t actually be submitted. And the OP would have a right to be angry (though if he’s really a web ninja, he could fix the problem himself temporarily using his browser’s debugging tools).

        Anyway, it’s not actually a CSS problem, it’s a JavaScript problem. And these days, JavaScript errors really CAN cause things not to be properly submitted.

        General advice to others who experience a similar issue: If you don’t see a confirmation page and you think you submitted your payment, then you should contact the merchant and confirm they received your payment. This is also another good reason to use your bank’s electronic bill pay instead of paying directly through your biller’s website. Also, it doesn’t hurt to pay your bills and resolve any confusion before they start to threaten to kill your service.

  13. ja says:

    I once couldn’t pay my bill online because Century Link’s website wasn’t quite compatible with an obscure browser known as Internet Explorer 8. Customer service said I had to use online chat to resolve this problem, but there was no way to bring up chat. Eventually 3 different employees said the only way to solve a problem with online chat was by using online chat, proving that Century Link is indeed a different type of phone company.

  14. zep says:

    Question #1: Why would a web-dev opt for Century Link instead of another, more reputable ISP?

    • scoosdad says:

      Believe it or not, there are still lots of places in the country where you don’t have a choice of an ISP if you want any kind of reasonable speed.

      I hate it when someone here blithely replies with, “you should have gotten FiOS”.

    • grumpygirl says:

      I get to choose between CenturyLink and Comcast where I live. Woo-hoo.

  15. Ouze says:

    I was a Qwest customer and Centurylink is a goddamn nightmare.

    1.) Their website literally does not work for me at all. For some reason it doesn’t think my zip code exists (i live in a semi-rural area). I can’t create an account because it doesn’t recognize my zip, when I spoke with the helpdesk and got one created it still asks for a zip up front before logging in (??) and it constantly throws error messages and crashes at all times.
    2.) They charge an extra $5 for phone payments if you don’t use the website. When I explained my problem and referenced my dozens of previous tickets, they offered to waive the fee… once. Never again. It takes me 20 minutes of screwing around to get my bill paid.
    3.) Speaking of, they tickets, I logged into web chat to speak with a tech many times (by the way, what does it ask for for first? YOUR ZIP) and they always say this is weird, blah blah blah, we’ll look into this and someone will call you back. No one ever does. When I ask to know my ticket number, I get random derpy answers that don’t result in a ticket number.

    Centurylink is what is finally pushing me off the cliff into dropping my landline for a prepaid phone or similar (my cell contract ends in a month and I’m going to switch providers). I would have done that years ago except I get such awful reception in my house, but at this point I don’t care; Centurylink is that bad. There is literally no redeeming factor to them, from their awful service, their unhelpful techs, their total lack of caring, and their ad-stuffed bills. I can’t pan them enough.

    • kevinbiowa says:

      “2.) They charge an extra $5 for phone payments if you don’t use the website.”

      Uh-oh. The web site will never get fixed if they get “rewarded” like that.

    • incident_man says:

      I work in the telecom industry and more and more of my neighbours and customers are telling me about how much of a fiasco CenturyLink has become since the changeover from Qwest. It runs the full spectrum from pricing to lack of customer service. Pricing and speed (or lack of it) were the reasons why I left, but that was before it was CenturyLink and I can only imagine it’s gotten worse since then.

      Qwest wouldn’t troubleshoot a modem issue unless it was one that a customer bought specifically from them. Charter, on the other hand, is very helpful, regardless if you lease their equipment or own yours outright.

  16. SloppyJoe says:

    Every time I log in, it asks me to finish my profile, even though every area is complete. The website even sends me temporary passwords to login for the first time… except I already have logged in a first, second, and so on.

    The best is the online survey they sent me a link to. The link was dead, no page to open.

  17. krom says:

    This is what happens when a podunk CLEC takes over a Baby Bell covering 1/4 the nation’s land area.

  18. @CenturyLinkHelp says:

    Daniel & readers, Centurylink is commited to listening and making improvements. Letting us know there is a concern is very helpful, when you provide account details and data so we can review the specifics it is even more helpful in providing a resolution. Daniel, if you would like further assistance with your account (this offer to help is for all) please send us your account and contact information either by email to TalkToUs@Centurylink.com or http://bit.ly/TALKTOUS

    We are here to help you with all your account or service concerns.


    Centurylink Help Team