News » Etc.




DirecTV sure has been in the news a lot lately, and not just because the satellite TV giant plans to open a 400-employee call center in Missoula next summer.

DirecTV officials say customer service has been a “sore spot” in recent years, and opening new stateside customer service call centers is part of the company’s attempt to improve on that front.

That makes sense, given that earlier this week DirecTV promised to reimburse $5 million to “unhappy” customers in Montana and 21 other states who claimed they were victims of deceptive marketing tactics. Then, on Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission announced a $5.34 million settlement with the El Segunda, Calif.-based company on charges that DirecTV’s telemarketers called households listed on the national do-not-call registry to pitch satellite TV programming.

“This multimillion dollar penalty drives home a simple point: Sellers are on the hook for calls placed on their behalf,” said FTC Chairwoman Deborah Platt Majoras in a statement.

According to the FTC, if the settlement is approved by a Federal District Court in Los Angeles, it will be the largest-ever penalty for violating the do-not-call law.

Thank goodness Missoula’s DirecTV call center is designed to take complaints, not create them.


As the news linking Sen. Conrad Burns to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff continues to mount, Burns’ local efforts to deny those links have featured a curious blend of defensive and offensive tactics. And the steady stream of time and attention he’s dedicating to the issue suggests that his assurance (that the $150,000 he received from Abramoff and associates from 1999-2004 had no strings attached) threatens to hang him.

Last week, Burns told a Kalispell TV station he wished Abramoff had never been born, and “I hope he goes to jail and we never see him again.” Then Burns spent an hour on Missoula’s “progressive talk radio” station KKNS Dec. 7 talking down the connection to an unconvinced Lesley Lotto. On Dec. 13, a Burns spokesman said the senator won’t be returning the money—as Democrats have called on him to do—because, well, it’s been spent. By comparison, North Dakota’s Sen. Byron Dorgan says he’ll return his $67,000 in Abramoff loot for appearance’s sake.

After the Wall Street Journal reported that Burns is a subject in the Justice Department’s probe of Abramoff’s dealings, and the Washington Post followed up by reporting that Burns and his staffers met with Abramoff at least eight times, Burns released a letter asking U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to hurry up his review so the “outrageous and wrongful allegations may be put to rest before we get into the 2006 re-election cycle.” He also announced that he’s holding back until the new year, when he’s got media buys planned to attack his growing cadre of attackers. Stay tuned…

Add a comment