HIGHTOWER: Call-Center Deceit

When you call your phone, insurance, or credit card company about a billing mistake, you don't really know where the customer-service representative you're talking to is located. You might reach someone who says "my name is Susan Sanders, and I'm from Chicago," or maybe Naomi Morrison who says she's from New Jersey. But the New York Times reports that neither of these women are who or where they say they are. Susan Sanders actually is C.R. Suman, Naomi Morrison is Nishara Anthony, and both are working more than 8,000 miles from the USA for a customer call center in Bangalore, India.

Their company refuses to divulge the names of its clients, simply acknowledging that C.R. and Nishara are taking customer calls for a U.S. telecommunications corporation. The fiction goes well beyond choosing fake monikers, however. Ms. Suman, for example, will chat with callers abut her Chicago parents, Bob and Ann, her brother Mark, and her business degree from the University of Illinois. All a lie.

She and other employees go through extensive training that drills them in English phonetics, American colloquialisms, and such pop culture topics as movies and sports. Ms. Suman says that American television shows are an essential part of their training: "We watch a lot of 'Friends' and 'Ally McBeal' to learn the right phrases," she says. Each employee is allowed to make up their own "American life" to fool callers. Nishara Anthony dismisses the deceit by saying, "If I gave people my Indian name it would be too confusing."

Actually, it would be too revealing, letting of callers know that even America's back office jobs are being moved out of the country by U.S. corporations. Call-center jobs here at home are not exactly lucrative, paying maybe $14,000 a yearˆbut companies can abandon U.S. workers who need these jobs and pay people like Nishara and C.R. less than $2,000 a year.

This is Jim Hightower saying...Why hire an American when you can hire Indian workers on the cheap who can pretend to be Americans?

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