Last Week Tonight host John Oliver took aim at AT&T, the parent company of his employer HBO during a segment criticizing robocalls and the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) failure to do anything about them, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The late-night host took to HBO’s airwaves Sunday night to let rip a high-energy rant against the practice of using robocalls in the U.S., which amount to some 50 billion calls annually. At issue is the fact that while robocalls have increased some 57 percent over the last year alone, the FCC is seemingly unwilling or unable to do anything to reign them in, despite that fact that the intrusive calls are universally loathed by phone customers.
“Everybody is annoyed by robocalls; hatred of them might be the only thing everyone in America agrees on now,” Oliver said.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart alum and late night Emmy winner also noted that in addition to the 50 billion robocalls per year figure, robocalls are the number one subject of complaints lodged with the FCC each year, totaling 500,000 complaints annually, or around 60 percent of the total complaints the agency receives.
“They are definitely aware of the problem,” he quipped.
Oliver then noted that while some uses of robocalls are beneficial to society, such as informing people of school lockdowns or prescription reminders, “the vast majority vary from irritating to downright illegal.” He added that the biggest users of robocalls are companies like Capital One and Wells Fargo, who employ robocalls to incessantly badger customers who are late on payments or have other debt-related issues.
It was when Oliver noted that it is estimated that over half of all cell phone calls next year will be robocalls that he brought his boss’ boss into the mix, and lit into AT&T, noting that robocalls are a genuine detriment to cell phone users, as the devices are part and parcel of modern life.
“We can’t go back to the days when everyone would just shout their message into a jar and then mail that jar across the country. That was a terrible system, as it was only marginally more accurate than having AT&T now.”
And in a critique of the FCC and cell phone carriers all at once, Oliver suggested that it is up to the consumer to complain to their cell phone carrier and “force them to listen” if we want anything to change with regard to robocalls, as the FCC has demonstrated it is not going to do anything on its own.
“And AT&T isn’t going to listen to you at all, unless you call them on T-Mobile — how would they hear you otherwise? Their call would drop out,” he said.