TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: A Must-Read Article: A Question of Independence

Re: A Must-Read Article: A Question of Independence
4 May 2005 13:39:27 -0700

Jack Decker wrote:

> "It's deceptive when the public hears the name of an organization that
> sounds like a respected organization with some authority behind it,
> when in fact it is being backed by an interested party," said Kenneth
> DeGraff, a policy advocate at Consumers Union, the publisher of
> Consumer Reports. "We look at issues purely from the consumer's
> perspective. Sometimes we agree with the phone companies, and
> sometimes we don't. But we never accept any money from an interested
> party."

For many years lobbying and advocacy groups have used neutral sounding
names; this is nothing new.

As to Consumer's Union's statement above, it would be more accurate to
say that they look at issues purely from what _they think_ the
consumer's perspective should be. Often, but by no means always, are
they correct.

(They offered a service where, for a fee, they'll tell you the
dealer's cost of a car to assist in negotiating. I paid for this and
got their printout. It was worthless. The option sets they described
were nothing like the options offered on the car. Most significantly,
the dealer offered the car for me at a cost lower than CU's claimed
dealer cost.)

Their product/service ratings are just a starting point. What is good
for one person is bad for another.

In our context here of new technologies the above axiom clearly
applies. Technocrats have always lauded brand new technology as the
end-all solution to every problem, ignoring that every new thing
develops serious problems. Some new users are well equipped to deal
with those problems, but many are not. Sometimes the new tech is
claimed to be superior than it really is, or that some bugs still
remain to be solved.

Likewise with new public policies, there are complex issues. Those
favoring the new policies are not of pure heart--they are business
people anxious to sell something and technocrats anxious to get
recognition and implementation. What is good for them is by no means
good for the rest of the public.

At the same time, those against new policies are not necessarily
acting out of selfish interest (as implied here). Too many of those
in the telephone business have a knee-jerk reaction against anything
offered by a traditional carrier --

I've seen this here as well as heard it personally. Knee-jerk is
never good.

Historically, new technology was rolled out gradually. The bugs were
worked out, prices dropped, and if good, it grew. Sometimes a
different mfr than the pioneer is the one to make the product a
national success. (It was Mr. Kroc who built McDonald's up, not the
orig McDonald brothers; Univac invented the commercial computer but
IBM put it on the map.)

But it seems now the technocrats and their business backers are so
anxious for instant high profits that they're jumping the traces,
pushing out bug-ridden products too early and imposing new procedures
on the public.

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