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Editorial: And the Winner Is …

Call out the jokemeisters. The first company to get charged with violating the national no-call registry sells vinyl siding. Yes, vinyl siding. California attorney general Bill Lockyer beat the feds to the punch last week in filing the first enforcement action, saying American Home Craft made dozens of calls to consumers in the state who were on the list … selling vinyl siding, perhaps? In fact, the attorney general’s office says the company didn’t even bother to obtain the list and scrub the no-call names. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing many more state AGs leading the crusade regarding DNC violations.

Lockyer didn’t take nearly as long as the Federal Communications Commission did in delivering its first violation under the FCC’s company-specific do-not-call rules: 11 years. Maybe if the commissioners had conducted a few other enforcement actions in the past decade, we wouldn’t have a national no-call registry today. Of course, we won’t hear what the FCC has to say about that because officials declined to answer that when DM News posed the question last week.

Instead, they let FCC chairman Michael Powell issue inane statements like, “This puts telemarketers on notice that we will take all measures necessary to protect consumers who chose to be left alone in their homes.” Of course, uninformed consumer groups jumped up and down saying similarly stupid things. “This is a clear signal to industry that they must take consumers seriously when consumers say they want to be left alone,” Gene Kimmelman of Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports, was quoted as saying.

Uh, guys, if the people at the FCC were that serious about this, why’d it take them 11 years to come up with their first enforcement action? Previously, the FCC had only sent citations to companies that violated the company-specific DNC rules. Couldn’t one or two of them have been a fine to show you really meant it back then, too, or to put some of the abusers out of business? The FCC did get maximum publicity regarding the violations, which obviously was what it was looking for. News groups around the country covered the story, though several made it sound like it was a violation of the new DNC list. Many also pointed out the irony that AT&T Government Solutions, a subsidiary of AT&T, is running the Federal Trade Commission’s DNC database. That’s gotta be hard to explain.

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