Countrywide May Be a Worldcom, But BofA Is no MCI

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Bank of America (BAC) wants us to believe it's MCI and Countrywide is Worldcom. The thing is...

I know MCI post-Worldcom...and BofA is no MCI post-Worldcom.

After the Worldcom accounting scandal rocked Wall Street a decade ago, MCI (now owned by Verizon, one of the last Baby Bells standing) ran mandatory ethics training throughout the company. MCI had transparency. MCI had auditing practices in place. MCI's company materials were easy to read and followed by every employee of the company.

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I was a Relay Operator at the time. My group translated telephone calls between voice phone users and text calls from the deaf and hard of hearing. To respect the privacy of our customers, MCI built a secure room in the back that could only be accessed with a special ID. Prior to the interview, we were tested for our ability to relay sensitive information without judgment. Within the first 10 minutes of sitting down to interview for my position (in my most professional suit and tie), I was handed a piece of paper and told to read five things straight-faced (these are just descriptions, not literally the things I had to read):

  • Something about killing a politician
  • Something anti-Semitic
  • Something sacrilegious
  • Something sexy (I actually did a sexy voice for this one and made him crack a smile)
  • Something obscene

After passing all of the interviews and aptitude tests, we were given a drug pre-screening and run through a standard background check. The first week of training, the checks came through, and one person was removed from the class...

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MCI's training class was one of the more engaging corporate training classes I've ever been through (and I've been through a LOT of training courses). They played videos on ethics and quizzed us. The employees bought into the corporate culture. The honesty and morality was forced upon the company by the corporation, but it was genuine. There were checks and balances in place, and, as in nearly every company I ever worked for in my life, the customer was the focus. Ethics saturated the entire company from the top down. Unfortunately over the next decade, cell- and web-based calling rose up to dominate society, making MCI's Friends and Family plan obsolete. The company faded away soon after.