Why Lawyers Shouldn't Write to Customers

Comments

1
I imagine CenturyLink's call centers are being inundated with calls from grandmas terrified that the FCC is going to bust down their doors and drag them off to jail.
2
Okay, this is clearly important. Gonna read this whole thi-ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ!
3
You should post the translation. I can't make heads or tails of it.
4
Still a little fuzzy. Is this thing saying "if you're making phone calls over your data plan and not your phone plan, you've been warned that we can legally charge separately for this service?"
5
You read those things?
6
The point is, they don't WANT you to understand what's in this letter. This type of thing is done purposefully by corporations like Century Link.
7
I think it comes down to "you're no longer allowed to use your business phone service to feed voice-over-IP phone calls from the Internet into the phone system." The Stranger probably isn't doing that, and @1, I seriously doubt your grandma even has a business-grade phone connection like that (an ISDN PRI aka T1).
8
All the legal boilerplate that's required to prevent them from getting sued for any and all bizarre reasons leads to nobody understanding anything.
9
@4 pretty much has it, I think its just really a little more specific. Sounds like the FCC changed the laws about how telecoms can charge customers for some kinds of VoIP, so CLink is changing their policies in response and this letter is the announcement to customers to not do certain things that aren't illegal but that CLink doesn't like. I understood it enough as an engineer, but yeah, not ready for the general population.
10
Doesn't The Stranger retain a lawyer?
11
I went English -> Urdu -> Tamil -> Greek -> Lao -> Azerbaijani -> English and it came back with "We're taking more of your money HA!"
12
Ha! I found a typo. They left out "all" in the phrase "...any and actions...."

Quick guess at subject matter: ISDN is a type of commercial-grade phone service that gives you 64 telephone lines. VOIP is "Voice over Internet Protocol," basically the way your triple-play package gives you a telephone. PSTN is the regular phone network, the one run by regular telephone companies, like maybe CenturyLink. Anyway... the letter seems to be addressing folks who are using their ISDN lines to interconnect their internet-based phone systems to accept calls from regular landlines, thereby avoiding various carrier-interchange charges, which they probably benefit from.

So, unless you're running a low-end telephone calling card company out of your garage, or a telecom department at a multinational, this probably doesn't apply to you.
13
Allow me to translate. I have worked in VoIP telephony for years and I can explain. Before we get going on the explanation let me tell you right now this means nothing to the average consumer and is a good thing to everyone other than outright scammers.

There is a practice known as "traffic pumping" that takes advantage of the regulation in this country designed to bring phone and internew service to rural users. We would all agree here on SLOG that ignorant rednecks are often ignorant in part because they have limited access to information outside of Fox news. In an attempt to bring peoplem living in rural regions phone and internet access the rate at which large carriers (CenturyLink and so on) are charged to make calls to rural areas is increased. The rural phone companies have the same cost for multi-million dollar phone switches as you would have in a city and they have lower call volume.

Traffic pumping is where companies providing cheap calling cards or free internet phone calls are actually shady operations based in rural areas. They have a very fast internet connection leading to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere. They use the fast internet connection to divert internet phone calls (VoIP mentioned in the letter) to the regular phone system (PSTN mentioned in the letter).

ATT is obligated to accept those phone calls to their customers based in cities and they are obligated to pay the rural company huge fees for accepting the call. This is required by law in the USA.

The net result is that when someone in New York makes a call to someone down the street using these calling cards or internet sites the call is routed through Kansas and a company that doesn't need to exist charges ATT $50 for a short phone call. ATT is stuck with the bill for a consumer just trying to make a "free" call.

FWIW I worked for a small VoIP provider based in Seattle, not a mega-corporation. They were getting HAMMERED with the expenses and had to lay people off because of it. Small business have been shut down by this scam and large mega-corporations have had their profits disappear across whole swaths of the business. The scammers laugh all the way to the bank.

This change is good but the reason it was phrases the way it is was because you can ignore it unless you intend to siphon money off a system designed to help rural people.

The only problem for consumers is that some previously free services will be shut down.
14
Thanks Packeteer, I knew nothing of this stuff.
15
I'll avoid the obvious quote and toss these up instead:
When there are too many policemen, there can be no individual liberty, when there are too many lawyers, there can be no justice, and when there are too many soldiers, there can be no peace. —Lin Yutang

About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists of telling would-be clients that they are damned fools and should stop. —Elihu Root

An incompetent attorney can delay a trial for years or months. A competent attorney can delay one even longer. —Evelle Younger

We have the heaviest concentration of lawyers on Earth—one for every five-hundred Americans; three times as many as are in England, four times as many as are in West Germany, twenty-one times as many as there are in Japan. We have more litigation, but I am not sure that we have more justice. No resources of talent and training in our own society, even including the medical care, is more wastefully or unfairly distributed than legal skills. Ninety percent of our lawyers serve 10 percent of our people. We are over-lawyered and under-represented. —Jimmy Carter

Let's ask ourselves: Does America really need 70 percent of the world's lawyers? Is it healthy for our economy to have 18 million new lawsuits coursing through the system annually? Is it right that people with disputes come up against staggering expense and delay? —Dan Quayle

What are lawyers really? To me a lawyer is basically the person that knows the rules of the country. We're all throwing the dice, playing the game, moving our pieces around the board, but if there's a problem, the lawyer is the only person that has actually read the inside of the top of the box. —Jerry Seinfeld

A common and not necessarily apocryphal example portrays a solo practitioner starved for business in a small town. A second lawyer then arrives, and they both prosper. —Deborah L. Rhode

Lawyer — One who protects us against robbers by taking away the temptation. —H.L. Mencken
Details here.

With apologies to the good-hearted attorneys among the Sloggerati (whose insights on diverse issues I appreciate but seldom if ever acknowledge).
16
I have no idea why this got posted to Slog. This has to do with particular types of business data-lines being used semi-illegally to charge for masses of VOIP calls to phone-numbers.

PRS/PRI = business broadband data lines

Toll = paid

VoIP-PSTN = using a data line to yap over the Internet to someone's phone number

It does not have anything to do with personal home use of VOIP systems over broadband Internet from Comcast or CenturyLink DSL. It also does not mean that they're even more purely evil than they already are.
17
@9: Probably not. The denizens of hell probably communicate via tin cans attached with string, smoke signals, or gibberings and moans of unfathomable despair.