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Lakewood family fights $4,000 bill from CenturyLink; 'We did what any sensible homeowner would do'

Simple landscaping project causes major headache
Posted at 12:01 AM, Feb 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-22 02:33:20-05

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LAKEWOOD, Colo. -- A simple home improvement project turned into an expensive bill that showed up in the mail six months later.

Amy Arnold and her husband wanted to rip out some bushes in their backyard to make room for a concrete pad to hold their hot tub. When the couple realized they would be digging, they called 811 to locate any utilities that could be in the way.

"I don't feel like we're at fault at all, we did exactly what we thought we were supposed to do," said Arnold.

That's why she was surprised to see a bill from CenturyLink for $4,093.39 as a result of alleged damage caused during the project.

She said the man who performed the utility inspection looked at some equipment in their yard. The inspection would ultimately show a "clear - no conflict" result for CenturyLink.

"He came out and he took pictures of this random post that was in our yard... so he took a picture, sent it to his manager, his manager was like, 'yeah, that's really old outdated equipment don't worry about it, it's not in use,'" said Arnold.

As the Arnolds started their project they stumbled upon wires. Since they were told the wires were no longer in use, they proceeded until they realized the digging knocked out internet and phone service in the neighborhood.

“After investigating this matter, we found the customer excavated and removed CenturyLink equipment located above ground, within the easement/right of way. This equipment would not have been part of the USIC assessment, as USIC only conducts locates for underground equipment and cabling. We believe the bill is just and valid.”

When Contact7 reached out to ask about the bill, a spokesperson for CenturyLink explained the company is taking issue with equipment located above ground.

"I feel like the technician should be skilled enough to look at old equipment and know if that’s still working and when they tell you that the wires aren’t live, I’m not sure what their protocol is but whatever they’re doing now is not working," said Arnold.

She points out the irony with the simple project turned headache. Arnold said when CenturyLink fixed the service outage caused by the digging, the company paid them for damage to their yard during the repair. She also spoke with a CenturyLink representative at the time who re-assured her.

"He said I'm so glad that you called because you're not on the hook for this because this is obviously an accident, you got that clear - no conflict and I'm so glad that you did because you could be liable for these charges," said Arnold.