Almost 4,200 Arizona consumers have received $721,000 in refunds from Qwest Communications International, and the amount is rising daily as more complaints are processed.
The refunds are a result of a 2001 consumer fraud lawsuit brought by by then-Attorney General Janet Napolitano. It accused Qwest of numerous violations of Arizona's Consumer Fraud Act, including placing unauthorized charges on bills and creating customer-service departments that thwarted consumers' attempts to resolve problems.
In an initial investigation of more than 5,000 complaints, 3,181 were found to have merit and warranted bill credits or cash refunds totaling $653,683 -- about $205 per customer.
The suit was settled in July and an Oct. 7 deadline was set for filing additional complaints. The settlement also required Qwest to reform its marketing practices and pay a $3.75 million penalty.
More than 1,700 additional complaints were filed after it was announced that the company had settled the suit. Of those, more than 1,000 have been sent to Qwest, which will have to pay another $67,000 in refunds, the Attorney General's office said.
Qwest settled the case, along with other pending suits, because it is hoping to win approval to sell long-distance service in Arizona. Approval is expected by December.