None of the litany of complaints against ARS is really the company's fault, Moynihan maintains. Instead, he blames all the company's troubles on religious prejudice against psychic powers, political grandstanding by attorneys general, and racial hatred against Miss Cleo for being a successful black woman.
Economic and political issues aside, Butterworth didn't want to wade into whether any ARS employees really have paranormal powers, Buchner says. He was satisfied with getting the phone answerers to sign a statement alleging their own belief in their psychic abilities.
"I wouldn't pay $5 a minute, and I don't think any consumer should," but that doesn't make psychic hot lines illegal or inherently dishonest. Buchner doesn't think it's possible to prove whether psychic powers are real, so his office (like other attorneys general) disputes only deliberate deceptions (for which his office has also cited well-known companies including Sears, Roebuck and Co. and Best Buy, he says). But given the disparity between ARS's income and the penalties it has paid so far -- perhaps 1 percent of its take last year -- Miss Cleo may be grinning for years to come.