02-26-2010, 11:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Don Cullen s blog
He is currently employed by Purple Communications as a Customer Care Technician.
Don's Blog Blog Archive FCC to VRS Providers: PAY US BACK!
As many of you already know, I currently work for Purple Communications.
We just received notice from Purple that when FCC had made their ruling on Feb 25th on how VRS providers can be reimbursed, they also included a very interesting requirement:
VRS providers are to pay FCC back for the amounts billed that had to do with employee-related calls. I know Iíve made calls while on my break at work using our VRS pertaining to my cable, electric, and gas bills. Iíve made calls to courts about my speeding tickets. Yes, I get speeding tickets. Iíve made calls to my doctor, to my dentist, to my dogís vet, and so forth.
Majority of the time, I make those calls from work, since I work a 40+ hour work week. I barely have time to make calls while at home, especially since I usually work from 1p to closing. This prevents me from being able to call when I get off work. When I get up, I usually spend my time going out on errands- laundry, food shopping, and so on. So I opt to make my calls at work.
The end result? Now those calls are not billable. Meaning, now I am not allowed to make VRS calls while Iím at work. Now I am required to wait until I get home to make my calls, or get up early to make VRS calls.
Now before you tell me that I should wait until I get home, I should point out a very important issue: this is all about functional equivalency. Hearing people are able to make phone calls to their families, to their friends, to their gym, doctor, vet, and so forth while theyíre at work. By denying the deaf this ability results in an imbalance.
I realize this FCC ruling is to protect taxpayers against abuses by VRS providers, but at the cost of this imbalance? FCC should have been more clear in this, and make exceptions for personal calls from employees to their own personal issues. I can understand denying them the ability to make billable VRS calls when doing it on behalf of their respective VRS provideróI agree with FCC marking that up as an ďoperating expenseĒ. But I do not agree with them including all VRS-type calls, whether itís on behalf of the VRS provider or not. This causes an unreasonable imbalance.
Now FCC is demanding reimbursement for previous payments to the VRS providers in the amounts of millions *IN FIVE DAYS*, this results in a large imbalance. Small VRS providers such as ZVRS and Purple will struggle to pay this amount in 5 days, while Sorenson VRS will absorb this easily with their large market penetration. End result? Some may declare bankruptcy and go out of business, some will be forced to massively downsize resulting in loss of hundreds of jobs, while Sorensonís market share will triple. Sorenson will benefit from this. The rest of the VRS providers will not.
The one positive thing from this though is that those VRS providers whoíre small and had recently launched will not have to deal with this recent development, and will go on to grow.
The internal memo that was circulated at Purple had no confidentiality notice, and I also specifically asked my department manager if I could share the memo with the public. My manager had no issue with that. But Iíve opted to not share it because I do not want to risk my job by sharing what actually was supposed to be confidential. So I will check with the executive management to see if I can share it. If so, expect another post.
It also has been brought to my attention from an anonymous source who shared a private work email with me that a different VRS provider has notified all employees that this is very bad news for a specific VRS provider that FCC is requiring them to pay back millions to FCC in five days, that one of the possible paths it will lead towards is bankruptcy. In the memo, it also stated that other VRS providers were also being served notice that they will also need to do the same.
It will be very interesting to see how this affects the VRS industry.