MYNORTHWEST NEWS

CenturyLink fined nearly $1M for disconnecting service during pandemic

Jul 7, 2023, 2:12 PM | Updated: 2:13 pm

CenturyLink fined...

CenturyLink has been fined by the Utilities and Transportation Commission for disconnecting customers during the pandemic. (Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

CenturyLink, one of Washington’s largest internet and Wi-Fi providers, has been fined $923,000 for disconnecting service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state issued the penalty for violating a 2020 emergency proclamation Gov. Jay Inslee issued.

The proclamation stated, “The available financial resources of many of our people and businesses are becoming limited, with many of them suffering considerable economic hardship as a result of the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on our economy, resulting in a significant threat of utility services being disconnected and late payment fees being imposed.”

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CenturyLink is being fined $1,000 per violation for disconnecting 923 customers.

According to a media release, those customers were protected by the proclamation.

A judge said the violations were “both serious and harmful to the public.”

The company claimed the disconnections were inadvertent.

The ruling said CenturyLink’s arguments “in no way alter our assessment of the impact on the businesses, households, and individuals who were deprived of their means of connecting with employers, loved ones, and emergency services during a global health crisis.”

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CenturyLink, which is part of Lumen Technologies, has 20 days to appeal the fine.

The complaint was first filed against Lumen in April 2022 after staff requested data from all telecommunications companies. CenturyLink serves about 650,000 residential and business lines in Washington, the press release said.

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CenturyLink fined nearly $1M for disconnecting service during pandemic