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FCC Proposes Fining AT&T Over DNC Violation 392

Iphtashu Fitz writes "The FCC has just announced a proposed $780,000 fine against AT&T for violating the recently enacted Do Not Call telemarketing rules. The FCC charges that AT&T marketers called 29 consumers on 78 different occasions after those consumers had signed up on the Do Not Call list. The FCC has posted a press release (pdf) to this effect on their web site."
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FCC Proposes Fining AT&T Over DNC Violation

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  • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:40PM (#7380552) Homepage Journal
    Glad to hear that there is an enforcement of the DNC happening...getting legal precedent set is important, so that we know that the law is truly in force.

    On a practical note, this way when the telemarketers call, we can know that we're dealing with a felon, and proceed accordingly.
    • Yes, I know you're joking about the "felon" part.

      For those who don't get it: technically speaking, calling someone on the DNC list isn't a felony, it's a civil infraction.
      • by djh101010 ( 656795 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:55PM (#7380755) Homepage Journal
        And actually, this being a civil rather than a criminal matter makes proving the case that much easier - instead of "Beyond a reasonable doubt", it has to be proven "By a preponderance of evidence".

        To put that into perspective - OJ was found "Not Guilty" in a criminal court, because it wasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he did it. The civil court proceedings, however, found him guilty "By a preponderance of evidence". So, by one standard he's not guilty, by another he is guilty. At the end of the day, he killed 'em, but the case wasn't good enough to prosecute criminally.

        For our purposes of the DNC list, I would think that this will make nailing the slime who try to weasel through the loopholes easier...we don't have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they're a weasel, we just have to show through a preponderance of evidence that they are a small, furry mammal of the Mustelid family, behaving in a weasel-like way.

        The preceeding is noted as being gratuitously insulting to weasels, for which I apologize.
        • And to be even more anal about the legal matters, O.J. wasn't found "guilty" by the civil court. He was found liable.

          Courts find people liable for things they proved they didn't do all the time (see the Chaplin paternity case). It really shouldn't be that way, but because it is sometimes that can work to your advantage.

          "Ok, you proved you didn't do it, but we think you're scum anyway. Pay up."

          And who doesn't think telemarketers are scum? Hell, I've known some telemarketers who knew they were scum, but di
        • OK look fine and good but OJ and the Betamax vs. VCR thing are topics I don't ever want to see aired in public again, ok? If it weren't for the Mozilla chapter of the IE vs. Netscape thing it would be on the list as well.
        • At the end of the day, he killed 'em, but the case wasn't good enough to prosecute criminally.

          Or, another way to look at it was simply that, after a number of strange occurances including moving the case from the area where it happened to an area where there was tremendous racial support for OJ, there was a bad jury verdict, and that just about any 12 reasonable people would have indeed found him guilty in criminal court.

    • by Liselle ( 684663 ) <> on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:48PM (#7380672) Journal
      Of course, this just means that telemarketers will start using the well-known loopholes that allow the other 20% of calls to get through. I've already gotten several calls from "charities" and "fundraisers" that were actually trying to sell you something, ultimately, just not at that exact second.

      Sneaky bastards, telemarketers are.
    • What in hell's name were they thinking? $780'000?

      Please tell me how thats a deterrent to something like AT&T?
      • It has to come from some manager's budget... he definitely won't be getting a bonus.

        Plus, they most likely did not get $780,000 in returns from those calls. A part of the business that is bleeding money, with no real anticipated return is likely to be cut off.
      • What in hell's name were they thinking? $780'000?

        Umm, that is in the FIRST month of the DNC being enforced. I'm sure if AT&T wants to continue to pay $780,000 PER MONTH that they will continue their behavior. At nearly $10 Million / year, I do believe that's a deterrent. The LD market isn't that great anymore.

  • by dukeluke ( 712001 ) <> on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:40PM (#7380560) Journal
    Personally, I support the DNC list - I hate being interrupted at all hours of day or night for solicitations. My motto? - If I want your product/service - I'll come to you to find out what you have to offer.
    • by jfengel ( 409917 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:01PM (#7380819) Homepage Journal
      I mostly support you on this, but not quite completely. I am the owner of two small businesses, and a small business finds it very hard to get the word out about its existence. If you don't know it's out there, you won't go looking for it.

      Everybody knows AT&T, and as far as I'm concerned they should pay the maximum penalty plus an idiot tax for doing precisely what they've been told not to do. But I wish I could find a way to get in contact with the many people who would probably come see the plays that my theater troupe puts on if they only knew it existed.

      I'm not trying to claim that I'm going to try telemarketing for that; I wouldn't even if it would be cost-effective. I'm not even proposing that telemarketing should be allowed at all. It's an obvious violation of privacy, as well as being obnoxious, and if obnoxious is all you've got, give up. I'm just challenging one of your assumptions, that "I'll come to you to find out what you have to offer."

      For myself, I'll keep trying the old-fashioned way: putting on good theater and hoping that eventually positive word of mouth will bring people out to see it, and being grateful that I'm not expecting to make a living off of it.

      (And passing up the crass opportunity to get myself modded down by putting the URL for my theater group on Slashdot. Not that I won't get modded down anyway for explaining, if not excusing, some telemarketers.)
      • Yes, I do understand where you're coming from.

        However, I am mostly attacking the ideologies of telemarketing/spamming.

        Telemarketing is a hindrance to the consumer - it requires the user to pay for the telephone use - and it invades upon their personal time - at the company's discretion.

        Spam is but little better - this utilizes the consumer's bandwidth - and on dial-ups - takes forever! (Consequently their time as well.)

        Mass mailing? - I can tolerate. Mass mailing does not drastically affect a c
        • Telemarketing is a hindrance to the consumer - it requires the user to pay for the telephone use - and it invades upon their personal time - at the company's discretion.

          The cost to the user is so low, in time and money, as to not be worth considering. It is just like the cost that it takes to sort out junk mail from real mail, and to throw that junk mail away -- a burden that the Supreme Court has found recipients are stuck having to bear, and which you yourself don't have a problem with.
      • I'd be more worried about posting the URL, and your theater group's webserver catching on fire moments later.

        As for advertising, word-of-mouth has always been the most effective and strongest form of advertising, and will continue to be for the forseeable long-term future. Nothing gets customers like referrals. There are other avenues for small businesses to get the word out. Interrupting Joe Six-pack's dinner with an unsolicited phone call is not a particularly smart one, even without a DNC list.
        • I'd be only too happy to have slashdotted. Give it a try. I'd love to be in a position to turn slashdotters away from a performance.

          Clearly word-of-mouth is most effective, but just as clearly if I weren't subsidizing this business, we'd never support ourselves long enough for word-of-mouth to function.

          There are other techniques, and it is unfortunate that some of those that should be available to me simply aren't effective right where I am. The local newspaper doesn't seem to ha
          • I'd be only too happy to have slashdotted. Give it a try. I'd love to be in a position to turn slashdotters away from a performance.

            Sorry, but URLs posted in comments rarely get slashdotted. Besides, nobody is going to cut and paste that. Most readers are too lazy. Try this [] instead. Maybe you'll get more click-throughs. ;-)

      • Post the URL...


        Was it the sheep climbing onto the altar, or the cattle lowing to be slain,
        or the Son of God hanging dead and bloodied on a cross that told me this was a world condemned, but loved and bought with blood
        • Don't worry buddy, we got your back!

          His theater is:
          The Rude Mechanicals

          (check his /. journal)

          And I agree-- I have a small business and advertising is very difficult and costly-- you'd think a searchable site that lists businesses, locations, what they do, and consumer reviews would be out there-- Hmmm, maybe I just thought of something to do with my domains...

      • by commodoresloat ( 172735 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:30PM (#7381122)
        I wish I could find a way to get in contact with the many people who would probably come see the plays that my theater troupe puts on if they only knew it existed.

        Bulk email marketing.


        E-Mail turns your computer into a Money Machine by giving you FREE, immediate access to over 400 Million People. Don't you think some of these people would be interested in your products or Services?

        MUCH FASTER: With bulk E-mail you get responses back in 1 to 4 days instead of waiting weeks or months! You can begin filling orders the same day you send E-mail. FREE ADVERTISING WORTH MILLIONS: It costs millions of dollars to mail.


      • Try a Card Cult.

        (needs flash)

        its an interesting idea.
  • by FreeBSD Goddess ( 721137 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:41PM (#7380567)
    I say this is great because if AT&T gets fined, it shows that nobody's above the rules and will send a message to all the smaller telemarketers who might be tempted to ignore the DNC. It's nice to know that nobody, no matter how big or small, is above the rules.

    On the other hand, as we all know, the DNC is hotly contested in court as possible free speech violations, among other things. I don't think the courts really care about the small telemarketer and their rights, but someone with the size, lobbying ability, and lawyer teams that AT&T has really could put up a good fight to the law.

    It's a nice precedent to see AT&T fined for this, but I hope it doesn't backfire.
    • How could this possibly backfire? As far as I'm concerned, small telemarketers need to follow the rules, too.

      Or, do you mean this is a free speech violation? Just because you have freedom of speech doesn't mean I have to listen. I also have the right to freedom from your speech.
    • On the other hand, as we all know, the DNC is hotly contested in court as possible free speech violations, among other things.

      I could never understand why it's being pushed as a free speech violation so much. If I stood outside someone's house every night, shouting my own personal philosophies, I could easily be arrested for disturbing the peace. If that person sound-proofed their windows, I couldn't appeal to some higher authority about my freedom of speech being violated. Telemarketers, however, are f

      • Right On!

        Who has the right to 'steal' from me? Don't we have a law against the theft of money? Or, are we all too lazy to itemize our phone bills and realize that yes - we paid a few pennies here and there because of some Telemarketer... If we have a DNC list - and someone breaks that list - I believe the FCC, in the best interest of citizens abroad, should fine that company.

        Yes - I believe in Freedom of Speech - but, I also believe that I have the freedom to be left alone and not terrorized by com
      • Because the FCC is discriminating based on content. It's ok to scream out everynight if you're a charity, or a politician, or doing a poll, but it's not ok if you're selling credit cards.

        The FCC said that commercial calls were more likely to be fraudulent. There are plenty of charity scams, most politicians are full of shit, and there are a lot of "push polls". Selectively restricting is the problem.

        • Selectively restricting is the problem.

          I wonder, if the FCC provided the option to put yourself on the DNC for only "commerical" calls but also provided the option to add yourself for the rest of the calls:
          1. 1. Would that still be discriminating as the option is provided to block all?
          2. 2. Would anyone block commercial and not charity/political calls?
    • Free speech rights?

      What right does another have to use something I pay for to send me messages I do not want?
      • We're talking about phones -- you don't bear any significant costs from receiving a call.

        What you really mean must be, 'what right does another have to send me messages I do not want?'

        And this depends. Do they know you don't want them, or would they have to assume that despite having no evidence? If they know -- because you've told them not to call, or you've put up proper notice such as joining the DNC list, then I think you might have a point. But telemarketers aren't psychic, so it is not reasonable to
        • The base cost of my phone service is about 25.00 USD per month, before long distance. That works out to be 300.00 USD per year, which is a rather high price tag.

          They don't care if you want them to call you or not. If they did care they would not be fighting the list that allows them to know who doesn't want their calls!

        • Oh, but I do. My time. All I want is for telemarketers to pay me to cover my lost time incurred answering their phone call. Heinlein had it right in Cat []
    • Free Speech (Score:5, Informative)

      by DiveX ( 322721 ) <> on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:20PM (#7381016) Homepage
      Your right of free speech stops at my mailbox. The constitution does not give you the right to electronically barge your way (uninvited) into my home, demand the use of my equipment and ink and paper supplies to present your message, shifting all your selling costs to me without my permission or request.

      Can you imagine a whole new class of "door-to-door" salesmen who knocked on your door, entered your house uninvited, demanded the use of your possessions, showed their product and then claimed that you had no right to stop them because it would violate their right of free speech?

      The TCPA has been around for over 10 years now and has been upheld to be constitutional, but that doesn't prevent lawyers from trying the same old arguments again and again. They include: Destination Ventures, Ltd. v. FCC, 46 F.3d 54, (9th Cir. 1995), and Moser v. FCC, 46 F.3d 970 (9th Cir. 1995), cert. denied, 515 U.S. 1161. See also Kenro, Inc. v. Fax Daily, Inc., 962 F. Supp. 1162 (S.D. Indiana 1997). Linder v. Thrifty Oil negates the popular "minimal harm" argument.

      Because cert to the US Supreme Court was denied in the 9th Circuit, it means that the operating law is the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which unanimously upheld the TCPA as constitutional. The 9th Circuit is the largest of the 13 federal circuits so this ruling holds a lot of weight. It covers California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Alaska, Hawaii, Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands. In addition, federal district courts in three circuits have also upheld the constitutionality of the TCPA.

      An 8th Circuit District Court (Eastern District of Missouri) judge ruled (March 13, 2002) that the TCPA is unconstitutional. The judge was none other than Rush Limbaugh's uncle, Steven Limbaugh, Sr. Limbaugh's bogus ruling was reversed, as we predicted, by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals on March 21, 2003. (it is important for you all to understand the differences between a ruling being reversed, remanded, or otherwise directed. Reversed pretty much means that something was in such gross error, it should have never existed.) 3/022705P.p df

      More infor can be found at
      • That the judge is Rush Limbaugh's Uncle is a fact [1] irrelavent to the topic. He ruled based on what he thought was right. Linking something he does to being related to someone else is flamebait unless you intend to accuse him of some sort of fraud. You undercut your argument by making most of your point stand on being related to someone controversial.

        [1]I'm assumeing your claim of relation is correct.

  • by monkeydo ( 173558 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:41PM (#7380568) Homepage
    This is NOT about the federal "Do Not Call" list.

    The Commission found that AT&T apparently made telephone solicitation calls to 29

    consumers on 78 separate occasions after those consumers had requested that AT&T not call
    them again
    . The Commission therefore concluded that AT&T had apparently violated the FCC's company-specific Do-Not-Call rule, section 64.1200(e) of the Commission?s rules.

    This is based on the rules that have long been in place that you can request that a company put you on their internal do not call list.
    • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:47PM (#7380662) Journal
      If I remember correctly, in addition to creating the do not call list, the bill also patched up some loopholes that allowed telemarketters to continue calling after being asked to stop.
      • Of course, they are still playing semantics games.

        Their latest goal is to say "Oh, do you want to be off our list?"

        Which simply means that they remove your row from the database. Next time they get new numbers, you are back on the list. They aren't breaking any laws, in theory, because the "Do not call" list isn't mentioned.
    • This is just the tip of the iceberg that they've discovered. I can add another ten calls to their stats myself. I think their numbers drastically underestimate the harrassment of AT&T's local services division....

      I would bet that we could find many thousands of people who have been repeatedly harrassed by them. At that rate, suddenly we're talking about a couple hundred dollars per person harrassed, which is almost certainly more than made up for by the number of suckers... err... customers they ga

  • by zapp ( 201236 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:41PM (#7380577)
    Having a DNC list is great and all, but if you either can't or don't enforce it, it's worthless.

    I'd say AT&T is testing their limits, seeing what they can get away with. If the FCC lets them go on this one, I suspect the DNC list will become pretty useless.
  • Excellent (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GaelenBurns ( 716462 )
    I'm glad to see AT&T being held accountable in particular. I've got a personal vendetta, you see... they called us all the time before the DNC, trying to get us to switch to them as long distance providers. Despite never agreeing to switch to them, we suddenly began recieving bills for long their long distance program. The funny thing is, we never use long distance... that's what cell phones are for. Suckers.
  • by Carl_LaFong ( 638296 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7380618)
    It must all be a mistake.
    Surely the consumers had opted-in with a business partner.

    • Oh, I'm sure AT&T deserves punishment here, but I don't think a fine is in order.

      Instead, let's have CarrotTop [] drawn & quartered...
      • That email is effin hilarious. Any idea if it's legit? The only reason I ask is that the boss's emails are signed "Robert," but the responses are addressed to "Richard."

        I hope they're real, because Richard/Robert is a master of correspondence.

  • AT&T? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dR.fuZZo ( 187666 )
    That's particularly interesting, since isn't it AT&T that was contracted to run the Do Not Call registry? I guess they really have no excuse for not following it...
  • by dtfinch ( 661405 ) * on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7380620) Journal
    Figure that 1 out of 100 consumers who receive calls in violation of the DNC submit compaints.

    Out of 300 who complained (probably slightly less, since some may have complained multiple times), 29 of them were accepted, or about 1 in 10.

    So one could assume that for every violation that was reported, investigated, and verified, about 1000 went unpunished.

    So the actual penalty comes out to about $10 per actual violation, reported or not.
    • ... So the actual penalty comes out to about $10 per actual violation, reported or not.

      It sound depressing, but consider the fact that only a small fraction of telemarketing calls are successful. Even if only 1 in 1,000 violations leads to a fine, that one $10,000 fine could still eat up the profits made by a few dozen "payoff" calls amoung the 1,000. I'd also think the success rate would be lower than usual on calls to numbers on the DNC list, making the likelihood of profit even lower.

      In other words,
  • just to clarify (Score:5, Informative)

    by antibryce ( 124264 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7380621)
    According to this [] article the fine is not for violating the recently enacted DNC list, but rather for violating separate FCC rules. Specifically if someone asks you to remove their name from your list you are required to do so.

    What is also interesting is AT&T's reaction in the above article, as I have had telemarketers call me offerring me things like identity theft protection on my AT&T Universal card, yet they aren't at all affiliated with AT&T.
  • ATT's response (Score:3, Informative)

    by Styros ( 144779 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7380625)
    ATT's press release [], stating that:

    We want to stress that this FCC investigation is not based on the nationwide do-not- call list that went into effect in October. Instead, it concerns claims by customers who believed they were on an AT&T-specific list and received a call they think was from AT&T.
  • I have to admit... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kr3m3Puff ( 413047 ) * <<me> <at> <>> on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:44PM (#7380626) Homepage Journal
    I am impressed. The DNC registry has worked for me. I used to get calls all the time. The only people who call now are the bill collectors. I did get one charity, which quickly added me to their DNC list after I queried why they were calling me and I got one real pollster doing a real poll, which I don't actually mind.

    The only thing left is for the year to end so that the Must Transmit Caller ID information is in force. I thought it took effect the same time as the DNC, but it doesn't actually take effect to the new year. Anyone automated calling to your house must transmit caller ID information and they have to take proactive steps to actually transmit the information. No excuses.
  • The question is will they give any of this money to the people bothered by the calls? They were probably bothered once or twice during dinner, or at some other point of the day, but they took the time to call AT&T about it, and were called anyway... Maybe, just maybe, they will get some of this `pain' reimbursed...
    • If part of the fines went to consumers, it would create an incentive to make false complaints. It's better to make it a big hassle to complain, with no benefit to the consumer except that warm, fuzzy feeling, and make up for it by having steep fines.
  • by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:49PM (#7380687) Homepage Journal
    AT&T Called me about a week after the list was turned on.. of course I got the name and number of the person calling me and then explained that I'm on the DNC list. Would believe she freaked out and asked to not be identified or report her company.

    I was like "I've been bombarded by spam from all directions for the last 15 years.. it's on my truck, my answering machine, my email and the d**n phone. You bed your telemarketing arse I'm reporting you."

    I did however leave her last name out of the complaint but ya know what.. at work if I screw up the FAA can fine me 10k.. they should be just as careful.
  • by telstar ( 236404 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:49PM (#7380691)
    They were calling to sell me broadband access... but they made sure to preface their call with "you recently purchased a laptop from us". As this Do Not Call thing swings into use I forsee the value of knowing who companies sell their products to significantly more valuable than it's ever been. It used to be that only Radio Shack asked who you were ... get used to EVERYONE doing it ... because they'll be able to partner with other retailers and cross-sell products using that loophole in the Do-Not-Call law.
  • Third time's a charm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:52PM (#7380719)
    Here's a telemarketing situation where I'm just waiting for the payoff. Our office has several blocks of 100 numbers each, most of which aren't in use and are forwarded to the front desk (because a client may have an old number). Some months ago a mortgage company started autodialing our blocks. Our receptionist went from calm to frothing at the mouth in 60 seconds flat, and eveyone else was getting either a hangup call or a voicemail left for them.

    I called the 800 number in the voicemail I personally received, got a manager on the line in record time (it helps if you sound like you want to confirm your satellite recon for the imminent airstrike) and explained that we had a block of numbers, that they were calling ALL of them and to please stop right-fucking-now. I then did the usual bit about do not call lists and a copy of the policy (which I never got). The do not call list was tough, since numbnuts didn't grok the "I have several hundred consecutive numbers" part very well.

    The next day they did it again. I got another manager on the line, who was significantly less than understanding about the whole affair. In point of fact, he seemed dismissive of the whole fact that I had complained the day before and tha the was perhaps a bit offended that I was trying to interfere with his attempt to rescue a failing mortgage business. I reminded him about the FCC's $500 per call regulation and he got offended. Go figure. Apaprently the fact that the Federal government might put him out of business wasn't a factor in his worldview. I rang off.

    And called the local police department and reported a couple hundred harassing phone calls. I leaned heavily on the second manager's attitude toward my request of the previous day and on his utter disregard for Federal codes covering his business. I named both managers in the complaint. These guys are less than fifty miles from us and in the same state, so it could happen.

    We have a case number. Some day they'll screw up, and then a telemarketing manager will do the Perp Walk. I'll be sure to put whatever details I can on a website so we can all share the joy.
    • One of my fans must have gotten their medication messed up. I posted the original several weeks ago.

      Maybe I should put a "Maserati's Greatest Hits" section in my journal.
  • "Proposed" ??? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by seanmeister ( 156224 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:54PM (#7380742)
    Why the hell is this "proposed"? It should just be - the law's in place, ATT is violating it, and they should pay the fine - end of story.

    Jeezus, I'd love to have a "proposed" fine the next time I get a speeding ticket.
    • Re:"Proposed" ??? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Xerithane ( 13482 ) <xerithane@n e r d f a r m . o rg> on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:16PM (#7380984) Homepage Journal
      Jeezus, I'd love to have a "proposed" fine the next time I get a speeding ticket.

      It is a proposed fine. Go to court and offer a counter proposal by following the instructions printed on the back of the ticket. Chances are it will be substantially less. The only way it becomes the actual fine is if you don't challenge the proposal.
      • Re:"Proposed" ??? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by BladeRider ( 24966 )
        The court that will be hearing your case will do everything they can to dissuade you from contesting your ticket. They'll threaten you with having to pay full court costs (often more than the fine). Even if you have a good case, you'll probably end up paying at least the amount of the original fine. Local governments can't generate revenue if they dismiss cases.
        • Re:"Proposed" ??? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Xerithane ( 13482 ) <xerithane@n e r d f a r m . o rg> on Monday November 03, 2003 @06:23PM (#7381641) Homepage Journal
          The court that will be hearing your case will do everything they can to dissuade you from contesting your ticket. They'll threaten you with having to pay full court costs (often more than the fine). Even if you have a good case, you'll probably end up paying at least the amount of the original fine. Local governments can't generate revenue if they dismiss cases.

          This is Stupid and Wrong. You are talking to someone who used to regularly get tickets across 3 states. The only time I've paid what the ticket said was when I was on a trip and would have had to drive 2 hours and it wasn't contestable over mail (which some states do.)

          They don't dismiss cases, and I'm not saying they do. They do, however, decrease the fine amount considerably.

          Last ticket was $170, just by showing up they offered to settle at $100 without taking it to court.
    • Why the hell is this "proposed"? It should just be - the law's in place, ATT is violating it, and they should pay the fine - end of story.

      Oh, I don't know...maybe because of due process []?


    • You do get a proposed fine when you're stopped for speeding, and an opportunity to explain in front of a judge why you shouldn't have to pay. In fact people sometimes get out of paying that way.

      RTFA. AT&T says they have an alibi. I have no idea whether their alibi holds water or not, but they should have a chance to prove it was "only someone who looked like them" before they have to submit for the pecuniotomy.

      It AT&T in fact violated the rules they should pay up. If they didn't, I have no problem
  • Seeing AT&T held to better business practices can only be a good thing, I think, even if it takes a hefty fine for them to see it.

    By way of example:

    Up until I got a cellphone a few months ago, I had long-distance from them, then decided to shut off the service afterwards. After calling and doing so (and being asked if I wanted service again, in the same breath as they told me they closed the account), it took weeks and three more phone calls (along with 3 more attempts to sign me up again) before my a
  • But when I tried to file a complaint the interface was down, then I got really busy and spent a lot less time at home (I suspect the calls still come, they just probably ring out on the answering machine now).

  • by blizzardsoup ( 710498 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @04:57PM (#7380783)
    I'm not suprised in the least that AT&T got tagged for violating their own (not the FCC) DNC list. They are one of the most relentless telemarketers.

    I was getting about a call a week from them when I finally demanded to be placed on their DNC list. Immediately sfter the request, they began calling 2-3 times a week.

    When I asked why they kept calling, they lamely said it took 6-8 weeks for the DNC request to be propagated throughout all of their call lists. Only after roughly 8 weeks (and my launching into a profanity laced tirade on each call) did the calls cease.

  • With all the potential revenus from the fines... who gets to profit from it?

    It's not like the FCC needs 3/4 of a M$ to stay afloat.

    Is the money re-injected in federal-funded communications?
  • Easy to nail ATT.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MisanthropicProggram ( 597526 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:02PM (#7380834)
    because they're so big.

    Last week, I got a telemarketer call - yes, I'm on the DNC list. I started slyly asking them,"so, what's the name of your company, again?" Then asked them, "what number are you calling from?"
    The lady then freaked-out saying that,"You're oon the DNC list! We're downloading the list now." and gave a bunch of other incredibly stupid reasons why they were breaking the law. In the mean time, I kept repeatedly asking for the number. They never gave it to me.
    So, I repported them to both the Federal and the State. And on the State's (GA), I placed in my complaint that the company refused to give me their number.

    I have a funny feeling that nothing will come of it, since I didn't get their number.
    Which leads me to another issue, how do you file a complaint when these shitheads know to game the system? Is the FCC just going after the big fish in hopes of curtailing the little fry? Which means, the little fry can make calls with impunity?

    My 3 cents

  • by KojakBang ( 721296 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:02PM (#7380842)
    1. Get a Caller ID Box. Your telco probably will charge you a fee for sending the information, since as they see it, you might decide not to answer the phone based on who is calling and therefore they will not earn the connection charge on the call. 2. Block Withheld Numbers if you live in a jurisdiction where withholding your number is still legal. Your telco probably will charge you for this, but it's worth it. {before I had mine blocked, I used to say to Number Withheld: "Are you a paedophile? Because your number is withheld." That saw them off. On my mobile, where there is no such service available, I have to resort to doing an impression of a recorded announcement: "Anonymous calls are not welcome on this line. If your business is important you may ring back without withholding your number. Goodbye." 3. Don't say anything if you don't recognise the caller's number. This spins them out, because they think it could be an answering machine. A legitimate caller will ask for you by name. A sleazeball telemarketer will just hang up. 4. Ask them how they got your number. This distracts them from the purpose of the call and maybe gets them into an infinite loop. 5. If all else fails, remember that it is your line, and you are under no obligation to be polite with unwanted callers. Any obligation of politeness would fall on the originator, not the recipient. I think the best solution would be for the do-not-call list to be in the phone directory, by placing a symbol next to the numbers of people who did not wish to receive unsolictited sales calls. I'm not so anti-social that I'd consider going ex-directory, because that would jeopardise things for people who might have a legitimate reason to call me {and because I like looking up my name in the new phone book every 18 months or so, it gives me a kick without harming anyone else}. Having the "do not call" list in the phone book itself would be almost foolproof. Everyone with a phone line gets the phone book, so there would be no shortage of witnesses to the fact that your number was on the list. The only downside is that you might have to wait till the new directory was published in order to get your name properly DNC'd. But the telemarketing companies could be made to subscribe to an update list as a condition of their operating licence.
  • by serutan ( 259622 ) <(moc.nozakeeg) (ta) (guodpoons)> on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:06PM (#7380877) Homepage
    If we have to have a Big Brother (which apparently we do), at least it's nice to have one that will beat up people who keep bothering you.
  • Is $780,000 a high enough fine to make AT&T stop violating the law?

  • Actually, CNN just reported that this has nothing to do with the DNC registery but existing laws that were in place previously that ordered companies to maintain their own lists (and in this case violating by calling people who told AT&T not to call).
  • they may settle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by avandesande ( 143899 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:29PM (#7381115) Journal
    Interestingly enough, I believe that att may actually not fight the fine. Fighting it would be a PR nightmare. How can they justify with public support the position that they have to call people who explcitely desire to not be called?

    Fining att was a smart move by the fcc. If it was some scumbag telemarketing company that got fined they would probably care less what their PR appearance was.
  • by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:30PM (#7381117) Journal
    They aren't that well researched in the demographics department. Here's a typical sample with the cast of AT&T Rep and myself:

    AR: We're offering a special long distance package for you. May I ask who provides you with your long distance service?

    Me: Yes. I don't have a long distance service.

    AR: You don't have one?

    Me: Yes.

    AR: Sir, do you make any long distance phone calls?

    Me: No. (pause to enhance clueless consumer effect)

    AR: Sir, we'd like to-

    Me: (interrupts) Actually, yes, I make local long distance phone calls.

    AR: You don't have a long distance service provider but you make local long distance calls?

    Me: Yes.

    AR: How is that sir? Do you use pre-paid phone cards?

    Me: No.

    AR: Uh... How do you place local long distance calls sir?

    Me: I use my mobile phone.

    AR: And, sir, who is you wireless phone service provider?

    Me: AT&T.

    AR: Oh... (long pause)... Thank you for your time sir, you have a good night.

    I've had this conversation with AT&T three times now. The novelty has not yet worn off. I wonder when they'll compile a list of existing customers, so they can save money on long distance calls.

    • AT&T Consumer and Business Services is a different company from AT&T Wireless.

      I don't mean independantly operated, I mean a different company.
      AT&T Wireless moved from independant operation to independant in 2000 over 3 years ago.

      Trust me, if you had been foolish enough to buy the stock (AWE) you would remember.
      The Credit Card is yet another non AT&T company carrying the AT&T brand.

      If that's all the violations they've had then they have done quite well. Or I should say thier contra
  • by bizitch ( 546406 ) on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:42PM (#7381256) Homepage
    Got a call from one of these sleazebags (after 9:30pm) and after I whipped out the DNC on them they backpedaled and said they were simply conducting a "Survey" of my attitudes on long distance - and therefore were exempt from the DNC.

    You know the kind of survey - with questions like - "Did you know that AT&T now has the lowest per minute rate ... blah blah blah ..."

    Phuckers - hope they all burn in hell ..
  • The problem with fines is that they end up being looked at as the cost of doing business. We need more appropriate penalties for corporations. Corporate death penalty, anyone? What would be analogous to imprisonment for a publically-traded company?
  • by ONU CS Geek ( 323473 ) <> on Monday November 03, 2003 @05:59PM (#7381414) Homepage
    AT&T Government Services actually "runs" the DNC list, but, AT&T is telemarketing and not using the DNC list. One would think that it wouldn't be too hard for them to even get a copy of the list, since a different division of their company runs it.

    Maybe their version of "prior business relationship" is when you signed up on the DNC list.
  • by masonbrown ( 208074 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2003 @12:29AM (#7384054) Homepage
    I got a call a few weeks back, Saturday morning at 9AM from AT&T wanting to sign me up for long distance service. I quickly whipped out the "I don't have long distance, don't want it, have a no-pick on my service, and want you to place me on your do-not-call list immediately".

    The woman on the other end got very unpleasant very quickly, and asked "Is this [not-my-name]?" I told her that I was not that person, and that this is my phone number. She very quickly (and gleefully I might add) told me that if I was not the person whose name she had, then I was not authorized to place this (MY) phone number on a do-not-call list and that I would continue to receive solicitation calls until I signed up for long distance with AT&T. Then she hung up on me.

    That fucking pissed me off. The follow-up call to their customer service to file a complaint and add myself to the do-not-call list was not much better. After about 5 minutes of arguing with the guy that if I had an emergency, I would either dial 911 or go to a neighbor's phone, I finally just kept repeating "You're refusing to add me to your do-not-call list. Let me speak to your manager immediately." Took about 15 times of that with me getting louder and louder each time before he put me on hold for 30 seconds. Then the same guy came back to "confirm my information for the do-not-call list." He then proceeded to mis-speak my number not once, not twice, but 10 times, trying to get me to "confirm" a different number. Only after threatening with the manager bit again did he successfully repeat my number.

    As far as I'm concerned, these fuckers should roast in their own shit. About time the government is giving us the power to fight back, and I'm really looking forward to my first $11,000 bonus check from a telemarketer who refused to follow the DNC list.

    I'll never understand how they believe that infuriating the potential customer will successfully gain new business. And given the attitude I've gotten from telemarketers, I can guarantee you that the calls are NOT monitored for quality assurance.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong