A few weeks back, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson inaccurately claimed that his company can’t offer free robocall-blocking technology because it needs permission from the FCC first. With that explanation debunked, a number of AT&T customers tried to give Darth Randy their permission to install these call-blocking services. As you might expect, the responses from AT&T were a mixed bag of fictions and excuses.
While the FCC has made it abundantly clear that there are “no legal obstacles to carriers offering consumers Robocall-blocking services,” Stephenson explained at the time that AT&T can’t “go in and just start discriminately blocking calls going to people without their permission.”
Upon hearing this, our pals down the hall at Consumers Union urged AT&T customers to actually call the company and let the Sith lords at AT&T know that they indeed have permission to block these calls.
The following, in the callers’ words, are just a sampling of the explanations and excuses the callers were given:
Marshall (TX): “They do not have the capability to block them but they appreciate me calling”
Vadim (CA): “They are saying they are not offering any solution to block robocalls at the moment.”
David (CA): “He offered to change my phone number.”
Mim (GA): Rep: “We do not have permission to block legitimate calls. We’re working on discerning which are legitimate.” Me: “What steps are you taking to do that?” Rep: “That, they have not told us yet.”
Charles (SC): “I was told that AT&T has blocks in place but scammers get around the blocks each time. They are aware but do not seem to have solutions that keep the scammers out. I just have to realize that robotcalls will continue.”
Allen (LA): “Said it was not economically feasible for them to do it now.”
Marcia (CA): “Said “they can’t block all robocalls because some of them are legitimate (doctor’s offices, etc.), and then AT&T would get hit with lawsuits.”
Kyle: “He said AT&T, along with all the other phone companies, don’t have the capability of stopping robocalls.”
Jimmy (IL): “Told not possible for landlines. Available for cellular lines; call 611. Agent at 611 said NOT possible!”
William (TX): “She said AT&T has concerns over lawsuits about hindering a business’s right to engage in commerce.”
Mike (AL): “I was told that Congress needs to do something because they control the FCC and the FCC controls phone companies.”
Carol (MI): “He pushed a service from AT&T that is $5/month after the first 30 days to block robocalls.”
L.W. (GA): “That they won’t be offering anything FREE!”
James (KS): “Her response was that the FCC prohibited them from doing it.”
Some landline phone services — most notably Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS have recently moved to integrate a free robocall-blocker called Nomorobo. However, because of the way that service works — simultaneously routing calls to its server and to your phone — it does not yet work on traditional landlines.
Nomorobo did recently announce a version that works on mobile devices, but it costs $5/month. However, nearly 3-in-4 Consumerist readers say they shouldn’t have to pay to block calls that are likely being made illegally anyway.
For more on how to tell your phone company to help block these unwanted calls, check out CU’s End Robocalls campaign.