The Republican Bush presidency will forever be known as the Age of Incompetence. I did a rant on this last May, showing how incompetence starts with the incompetent dunce in the White House and trickles down to virtually every level of society. But hey, it’s gotten worse since then.
This morning I opened an online trade publication called Directmag, which talks to people who spend their lives selling things by mail, TV and over the Internet, and with “managing” customer relations. And there it was again – a glaring examples of American incompetence – this time relating to Big Telephony and rape threats.
As reported by Directmag columnist Richard H. Levey, a woman had been receiving threatening phone calls from a man who knew “her name, her address and her apartment number. And that last bit was especially disturbing because the caller threatened to rape her.”
So what does the woman do? Probably what your or I would recommend that a loved one do – she calls the police. And what do the police tell her? Essentially, “Rape threats? Not my department.” Specifically:
The police told Sue to contact her phone company–AT&T–and have the incoming number traced.What? The cops don't talk to telephone companies? Gimme a break.
Maybe if she just said, “I’ve got some Al Queda recruiters calling and asking me to plant bombs,” she might have gotten some serious attention from law enforcement, which seems ready to tap the phones of American citizens without a warrant on the basis of – well, who knows what basis?
But hey, if somebody only wants to rape you, you’d better be prepared for do-it-yourself police work. So she calls AT&T. And guess what they do?
Nope, try and guess again.
Wrong again. Let me tell you what AT&T – the company that’s seeking a legal shield for allowing warrantless wiretaps requested by the Bush Administration – does when a woman calls in to ask for trace on calls from a would-be rapist.
Right. This time you got it. Before finally connecting her to the presumably appropriate person, they try to sell her more phone services.
And when the reporter had the temerity – the sheer gall – to e-mail five different AT&T people in media relations to ask for comment:
Of the five people in media relations I e-mailed, only one responded. His message simply said “We are looking into the details of this situation and will address it appropriately.Yeah, but they don't value her nearly as much as they would if she'd stop bothering AT&T about rape threats and instead just shut up and buy more stuff from AT&T.
“We value our relationship with the customer and apologize for any inconvenience.”
With apologies like that, what we really need is some legislation to let irate customers sue AT&T back to the stone age