*Oetting & Company Withdraws From ATA

The American Teleservices Association has received its first membership cancellation, from a company whose executives claim the association glossed over the facts in its presentation to members about fiscal problems.

Oetting & Company, New York, withdrew its membership from the organization because company officials said they had been promised a more comprehensive disclosure of the ATA’s financial situation at the association’s annual conference in Nashville last week.

“Had the presentation been handled differently, that letter would not have been written,” said Geri Gantman, senior partner with Oetting & Company in reference to the company’s letter of resignation to the organization. “It’s a lot more complex, more critical than it was portrayed.”

Fiscal mismanagement has preceded J. Scott Thornton and existed for four years, Gantman said noting that through years of strong involvement, Oetting & Company officials gained a closer look at the organization’s management than some less active members. The problem stemmed from the association’s move from a volunteer-based organization to a staff-run organization that was growing beyond its means, she said.

“It was clear to some of us that were involved that the staff was so big they were spending more than they were taking in,” said Gantman. “It was not just about an irresponsible ceo it was about whether a ceo good or bad was the right path to go down.”

ATA board president Steven R. Brubaker said that full details were not disclosed at the convention because there were conference attendees at the ATA’s business meeting who were not members.

“This is something that we want to communicate to members one to one in a letter, not out in public,” Brubaker said, noting that a letter will be sent to members late this week or next week.

However Oetting & Company executives felt the failure to fully address the issue at the conference represented a broken promise.

“We wanted the issue discussed in an open forum, where members could ask questions publicly, rather than discuss it through e-mails and post conference conversations,” she said.

Brubaker would not comment on the financial situation pending the release of the letter. He said the letter has been delayed because board members were carefully gathering data, though Gantman maintains that more comprehensive data already exists.

Gantman noted that Oetting & Company remains dedicated to the concept of the ATA and would support a viable organization dedicated to those principles, but felt the problem was not handled in a way that will encourage confidence in management.

Brubaker also would not comment on the resignations of the association’s incumbent board members last week. A transitional management structure is in the process of being built, he said, noting that the new structure will also be disclosed to membership in the letter.

Another ATA member, reached by phone, said that her company’s membership will not be renewed, but requested that the company not be identified.

“It would have been more helpful to have all the facts at the business meeting where it could be discussed in the open,” she said, adding that with full disclosure, members would have a common problem to rally behind. “The financial troubles can be overcome, but the way it was handled and the internal turmoil has been disheartening.”

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