Earlier this month, police in India detained hundreds of employees in three different call centers for allegedly proliferating a scam that involved calling unsuspecting consumers masquerading as employees with the Internal Revenue Service and threatening to arrest if the person didn’t pay up. This week, federal authorities in the U.S. followed up on the case, ending a three-year investigation by arresting dozens of people in the U.S. and India for allegedly scamming tens of thousands of consumers out of millions of dollars through the sophisticated call center scheme. [More]
No one wants to get a call from the Internal Revenue Service, and for many people the tax return process is confusing and fraught with potential for errors. So when someone calls claiming to be from the IRS and in need of more information, or saying you need to pay up or face arrest, you might assume it’s a legitimate call. It’s not. This week, police in India detained hundreds of employees from three different call centers for allegedly making these sorts of scam calls — and raking in big money in the process. [More]
Instead of talking to customer service representatives who adhere to scripts in a robotic manner, soon we might be talking and chatting with customer service employees that are actual robots. While industry experts say that technology isn’t quite there yet, the companies that run outsourced call centers, including offshore ones are already worried about having their jobs outsourced altogether to machines. [More]
We all know that a lot of businesses outsource customer service work to call centers around the world. But what you may not know is that there are also call centers that specialize — and openly advertise — their services in aiding ID theft and other cyber fraud. [More]
AT&T is the second-largest wireless carriers, one the country’s biggest landline providers, and now owns the most popular satellite TV service with more than 20 million subscribers. That’s a lot of opportunities for customer service staffers at the company to mislead callers, and one AT&T employee says it happens — a lot — and that AT&T knows it. [More]
Man Charged With Operating Debt Collection Scheme That Targeted, Defrauded Spanish-Speaking Consumers
Deceiving consumers is a trademark for most unscrupulous operations attempting to collect debts that aren’t actually owed. Shady collectors have been known to lie about debts, misrepresent themselves as officers of the law, threaten lawsuits and, in the case of one operator, threaten Spanish-speaking residents with deportation. [More]
It may surprise you to learn that Sears Holdings, a company that has been shedding jobs as it slims down its retail presence, is giving hope to people who are unemployed, but it’s true. The company is hiring for 100 new positions at its call center in Alabama, explaining that the closure of physical stores means that some of those sales shift online. [More]
Many call centers rely on scripts so representatives know what to do when customers call with problems. Which is fine, it’s not like people actually expect a flock of experts waiting to provide their own spin on a situation. But using a script can turn a resource into a source of confusion if the call center reps are reading off the wrong script. We’re looking at you, Healthcare.gov. [More]
Sometimes a picture, story, or video posted online seems so over-the-top that we think that it can’t possibly be real. It has to be a viral marketing ploy, a prank, or somehow involve Jimmy Kimmel. Listening to this recording that purports to be a real customer service call to a home security company, we desperately wanted it to be a hoax…but the court of Internet public opinion has ruled that it probably isn’t. [More]
Call Service Employee Creates Game About Daily Frustrations Of His Job, No Longer Has That Job After Bosses Find Out
Natalie called up AT&T Wireless yesterday to ask about a few relatively small charges on her bill. The customer service representative offered her a refund of two $36 activation fees due to phone upgrades, explaining that it was because Natalie was quite possibly the only person who had called AT&T that day who hadn’t complained about activation fees. (We’re paraphrasing and exaggerating slightly.) Then the representative gave her another credit, ostensibly for being a loyal customer of twelve years. Natalie was stunned, and couldn’t think of a way to repay the CSR…until she found our site. [More]
Comcast customers in northern California who call in for help won’t be talking to their neighbors anymore. Kabletown announced yesterday that they plan to shut down call centers in Livermore, Morgan Hill and Sacramento in November. The 1,000 employees affected will have the opportunity to receive severance packages, or to follow their jobs as they’re transferred to call centers in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. The interesting part, though, is what Comcast had to say about why they’re moving the jobs, then later retracted.
“Outsourced” doesn’t always mean that work is shipped overseas. An outsourced call center can be anywhere. Well, anywhere with a low cost of living. What it always means is that the people doing outsourced customer-facing work are stuck reading from scripts and have limited information. That’s what Charles’ wife discovered this past weekend when dealing with an issue with her Scooba floor-cleaning robot. When she tried to order a replacement core for her broken Scooba, she received cryptic e-mails telling her that the company was “unable to complete [her] order” and that they would be “unable to assist [her] with this or future orders,” according to the corporate office. Wait, was iRobot breaking up with her?
Reader VermillionSparrow reads Consumerist comments and stories, and has a relatively minor beef with us. Yes, you readers, too. She has worked in call centers, and takes a little bit of offense when she reads references to “overseas” or “outsourced” call center representatives. Especially derogatory references. Some of those workers with accents were sitting just a few desks away from her at work: not on the other side of the planet. She warns us not to assume.
Sure, it’s not peak IRS season right now, but there is quite a variety of reasons that you might have to deal with the ever-present government agency anyway. Tax Cat is out of the office, vacationing at his offshore kitty condo in the Cayman Islands, so it’s up to reader Christopher, a tax preparer, to serve us up with handy tax advice. See, sometimes you have to call the IRS. You can’t avoid it. But so does everyone else in the country. What Christopher figured out is that the IRS call center doesn’t have fixed hours like most. Its open hours depend on what time zone you live in. His solution? Use a Google Voice number to fudge what time zone he’s in, and call late in the evening when the business day is done for most of the continental U.S.
Need a job? Come join the glamorous world of call centers! The FCC says that call centers are poised to add 100,000 new jobs to the economy. You’ll get your very own cubicle! Or, at least, your very own partitions!
Delta Airlines recently announced that it had decided to move some of its outsourced call center operations out of South Africa and back to the U.S. But before anyone goes looking for a gig at Delta’s phone operations base in Dallas, the airline says it should be just fine with the staff it already has on hand.