TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: AT&T Doesn't Like My Last Name

Re: AT&T Doesn't Like My Last Name

Justa Lurker (
Thu, 06 Apr 2006 21:25:29 GMT

Paul A Lee wrote:

> In TELECOM Digest V25 #126, wrote (in part):

>> The "new" AT&T (formerly SBC, my local phone company) sent me
>> a form letter stating that my user ID does not comply with
>> their new rules and needs to be changed, or they will
>> terminate the online access to my account. My AT&T user ID
>> happens to be my last name (semenzato), same as my user ID
>> everywhere else.

First of all, let's establish the proper context. I believe that the
"user ID" to which Mr. Semenzato refers is a user ID which (in
conjunction with a password, of course) is intended for use by a
customer in accessing the former "MySBC" website which is now called
"AT&T Account Manager". It's not an email ID or anything like that;
rather it's just an internal identifier local to AT&T's web server.
Some of these sites require that the customer choose a user ID while
others have been designed to utilize the telephone # NPA-NXX-XXXX as
the "user ID". For example, legacy AT&T customers (e.g., not
pre-merger SBC like Mr. Semenzato) such as myself log in with our
phone number and password to view our latest bill and so forth. It'd be
just as simple (maybe simpler) for SBC to have assigned some arbitrary
user ID to each account when the customer originally registered for
on-line access but they probably figured that a customer would be less
likely to forget an ID which he chose himself ... also this would make
the login somewhat more persistent and 'portable' if the customer
moved and got a new telephone number (yes, I know about LNP).

>> It complies with all AT&T rules except possibly their
>> profanity clause.

AT&T (nee' SBC) is certainly within their rights to constrain the
selection of particular user IDs in any manner they wish ... similar
to what is done with the choice of passwords. In the case of
passwords, such restrictions are usually applied with respect to the
number of characters, mixture of upper and lower case, no easily
identifiable text strings, and so forth in order to ensure "strength".

In the case of user IDs, any restrictions (besides those which are
purely programmatic like maximum number of characters) probably center
either around uniqueness (for obvious reasons) or good-faith [although
perhaps a little ham-handed] attempts to maintain a sense of workplace
decency/propriety in case a company agent has to view the user ID on
their CRT or whatever in the course of routine business.

>> This is the first time anybody suggests to me that the first part
>> of my last name is a profanity (seems more like a technical term to
>> me). I let them know that I was quite offended and they should fix
>> their filter to skip the profanity check for certain variations of
>> the customer's name. Their response was another form letter
>> stating, among other nonsense, that "though this may be a temporary
>> inconvenience, we are certain you will appreciate the efforts we
>> have taken to protect your information."

This sounds like a pretty standard response from any big corporation
these days, not just nasty old Ma Bell. How this managed to offend
you is beyond my grasp, of course, unless you omitted or I overlooked
some particularly egregious or perjorative phrasing in their form
letter. Maybe you could be more specific. After all, they didn't
cast any aspersions on you or your Italian (I think Semenzato is an
Italian name, if not I apologize) heritage. They just asked you to
pick another user ID.

> If AT&T (SBC) is providing your local phone service, then they're
> almost certainly subject to regulation by your state public
> utilities/service commission (see or phone
> directory blue pages).

Very true.

> I suggest you file a complaint with that commission that AT&T is
> violating your civil rights by discriminating against you, based on
> the ethnicity of your family name, in providing service.

Nonsense. No one's civil rights have been even remotely violated
here. Your telephone service remains fundamentally unchanged (you
might not like its quality or price, but that's another discussion !)

> You could also try pointing out the discrimination to AT&T contacts,
> or even to local news media.

Again, AT&T is not discriminating against anyone. I suspect that no
one but a bunch of telephone enthusiasts will even be interested ---
especially once the facts become clear.

> That should get you some attention above the drone level at AT&T.

Ummmmmmm, no I don't think so.

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