In a classic example of leaving the fox to guard the chicken coop we get the following bit of news from The Washington Post: ‘Do Not Call’ List Operator AT&T Leads in Complaints.
AT&T Corp.‘s technology and low bid helped one of its subsidiaries win the 10-year, multimillion-dollar contract—even though federal records show that AT&T has drawn the most consumer complaints for telemarketing practices in recent years.
According to Federal Communications Commission data, 5,714 complaints were lodged against AT&T’s telemarketing practices in 2001, 2002 and the first three months of this year. That was 22 percent more than the number of complaints received about MCI, which generated the second-highest number of complaints, and more than three times the number received about third-ranked Sprint Communications Co.
More than one-fifth of the complaints lodged against AT&T were allegations that AT&T did not honor requests to be placed on the company’s do-not-call list, the same sort of list that AT&T’s Government Solutions subsidiary is being asked to run on a national level.
Admittedly the rules for awarding contracts are very strict and the two main considerations are merit and price. AT&T’s Government Solutions subsidiary has the technology to do it and they were the lowest bidder and things such as the fact that the parent company holds the largest volume of complaints doesn’t enter into the decision making process. Which explains a lot of things about how the U.S. Government makes decisions such as putting a five time felon (John Poindexter) convicted for lying to Congress, destroying official documents and obstructing congressional investigations on the Iran-Contra scandal at the head of the new Total Information Awareness department.
As is so often the case these days I once again find my enthusiasm for what seemed like a good idea diminished by the dawning realization of just who, exactly, will be in charge of it. Richard Callahan, client business manager for the AT&T Government Solutions subsidiary, promises they will do their best to report and fine any company not following the rules even if it’s AT&T. It probably helps that as of this point in time the rules won’t actually apply to AT&T as they are regulated by the FCC and not the FTC.