|AT&T Fighting Fine for Terrible Service|
|Sunday, 05 December 2010 14:01|
"AT&T had failed service standards for repairs every month between 2001 and 2009," Connecticut's Department of Public Utility Control determined. Verizon's record in New York is similar. It's cheaper for a telco to fire employees and skimp on repairs. AT&T fired another 160 employees in Connecticut early this year, reducing annual costs by about $15M but making reliable service even more difficult to deliver.
Randall Stephenson, I've written elsewhere, has done a remarkably effective job for the shareholders of the company and is proving an extremely competent CEO. Regulators become necessary when what's good for shareholders is not what's good for the rest of us, such as reliable communication. The DPUC after eight years fined AT&T $1.1M, about six cents per line per year. Luther Turmelle in the New Haven Register reports AT&T has refused to pay that fine and is trying to negotiate it down. Connecticut's Attorney General, Richard Brodsky, is infuriated at AT&T's stalling. AT&T in 1998 spent $4.4B to buy the Connecticut operations, then the independent company SNET.
Back in 1998, the FCC approved the takeover. Then FCC Chairman Bill Kennard looking back said the merger approvals were the biggest mistake he made. There was plenty of warning at the time. The Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) argued that SBC's commitments to maintain service quality "lack enforceability," and that SBC would have the incentive and ability to permit service to deteriorate to those customers with the "fewest competitive options."
The fine is 1/4 of 1/10 of 1% of the price of the company.