Utah's Division of Consumer Protection has filed suit against Qwest Communications, accusing it of repeatedly lying to customers and intentionally engaging in deceptive sales practices.
The 40-page complaint accuses the company of "unconscionable acts and practices in connection with consumer transactions." It includes a laundry list of alleged offenses, including billing for services that were not ordered and ignoring complaints.
Qwest has run afoul of regulators in other states as well. Last week, it was fined $20 million by California regulators who said the company switched customer's long-distance service without permission. Qwest has 90 days to provide full refunds to all customers who were "slammed."
Minnesota is so inflamed at Qwest's using backroom deals to favor some local competitors over others that it is considering lifting the company's franchise and throwing it out of Minnesota.
"Cramming and slamming are not acceptable in California ... Qwest must make substantial changes in its marketing policies and practices related to long-distance sales," the California Public Utilities Commission judgment said.
In August, Qwest agreed to pay the state of Colorado a $1 million penalty as well as an undisclosed amount of restitution to its customers after the state sued Qwest for deceptive sales practices.
In Utah, regulators said they acted after the number of complaints exceeded reasonable limits.
When you have one investigator spending the majority of her time working on Qwest issues, it is time to try and correct the problem," consumer protection director Francine Giana told the Salt Lake Tribune.
In one case cited by the division, Qwest sent a Utah consumer a wireless telephone she had not ordered. Then, even though the woman never opened or used the phone, it billed her for it and threatened to sue her if she didn't pay. Finally, when the consumer tried to cancel the service she had never ordered and never used, Qwest demanded she pay a $200 deactivation fee.