Call Centers Are Slave Ships?

Oh those poor BPO workers—the ones that make salaries that qualified freshie engineers envy, the ones that flaunt state-of-the-art electronic gadgets, eat out at fancy joints, strut their stuff at the discoes. It seems that their actual state is comparable to those of galley slaves in ancient Rome and to prisons in the 19th century.

Aww those sugar bunnies.

The labor practices call centres follow are even much older. Take, for instance, the monitoring of workers at the workplace. “Work is monitored on the spot and after working hours with the help of specially designed software, computer network and closed circuit cameras,” the study says. “The degree of surveillance required at work is even comparable with the situations of 19th century prisons or Roman slave ships.”

Oooh. So the only similarity with galley ships is that workers in call centers are closely monitored. For a second there, I thought that BPO workers were tied to their chairs by chains while being whipped by the floor manager. Don’t know about you but I feel that in a line of work where you are dealing with people’s social security numbers, credit cards and the like, you should not crib about being monitored. It’s part of what you signed up for.

Let’s assume that you work in a diamond mine. You will generally have a full body cavity check every time you go home from work. That in itself does sounds draconian….I mean how would it feel if someone subjected you to an anal probe everytime you left the office building? But then body cavity searches come with the territory of gold-diamond mining —-though I can bet that the VV Giri Labor Institute (who did the BPO study) will say that conditions in diamond mines are comparable to prisons all over the world—excessive intrusions into body orifices—without considering the fact that for the industry concerned , that’s just the way things have to be.

In rediff, in a discussion on what makes BPOs such horrible places to work, a recovering call center worker says things are so bad that even cell phones are not allowed in the office. I mean how bad is that—-no naughty or as we Indians call it “non-veg” SMS jokes, no sweet nothings to your “woh” and no surreptitious shots using the camera phone.

Now I wonder why BPO employees hate constant monitoring….could it be because of the hot BPO sex that seems to go on in these places (All our representatives are currently assisting other representatives) which they naturally want to keep in the “Mummy Ko Nahin Hain Pata” state.

Another complaint against BPOs is that continuous night shifts screw up the body clock, making the employees physically and emotionally drained. They are unable to make connections and become pathologically detached from normal life because of night shifts. Now it’s not that the BPO bosses are insensitive to their mental trauma—-company sponsored nights at discoes, group activities and other nice-sounding things are organized from time to time.. And yet more and more BPO workers are going postal because of their incessant nocturnal lives.

Now I wonder how, for so many years, engineers who oversaw production were able to keep their heads despite rotating night shifts—standing for hours in an environment where choking dust, heat from furnaces and ear-numbing noise was part and parcel of their nightly lives. No ergonomic chairs, no air conditioner, no color coordinated workplaces, no fun and games, no company sponsored nights on the town and the only chance of carnal gratification—a same-sex experience with the assistant foreman behind the boiler room.

Similarly doctors and nurses have also done countless night shifts without any sympathy. So how come its only BPO workers who need to be mollycoddled when, in reality, they have it so much better than many other professionals?

Another complaint I read (again this is based on what I have read….which maybe a subjective statement of a few individuals) is that it seems that one of the downsides of working in a call center is that workers lose their moral fibre and call each other by the rather cool appellations of “Hi sexy” at work. They spend greenbacks like it’s going out of fashion, partake in casual sex and do other kinds of things I would have liked to do when I was 25. And it’s all because of the culture of the call center — the daily onslaught of American culture manifested by the “neutralized” accent, fake Westernized name and knowledge of baseball and duck hunting season.

Aww please. Firstly in any American company worth its name, using “Hi Sexy” at work will inevitably be followed by a letter from the lawyer. People do not exchange “non-veg” jokes, do not compliment each other on their appearance and personal space is strictly maintained. The so-called call center culture, if it exists, is purely an artifact of young and desperate men (like I was a long time ago…repeat a long time ago) and young and repressed women (the kind I always dreamt of meeting but never did) , both with a lot of disposable income (something I never had) and no responsibilities ( something I even now avoid) thrown in close proximity of each other where their perfunctory introduction to American culture serve as the moral justification of their basic instincts. In other words “When in a call center with the name of Chris, do as Americans do.” That Americans don’t do is entirely a different matter.

But holding call centers responsible for such behavior is as silly as blaming MTV for the follies of men like me who were young in the 90s. Not that I had any follies. Despite my best efforts.

Lest it sound like a rant against BPO workers, it is not. My extensive experience in calling 1800 numbers has led me to believe that call center employees in India are much more professional, courteous and competent than their non-Indian counterparts.

The reason for their dissatisfaction may very well be that recruiters, in their eagerness to hire people in an industry with high attrition rates, paint an overtly rosy picture (fun, games, foreign trips and easy money) neglecting to mention the downsides and once employees experience the monotony of saying the same thing over and over again and a continous process of evaluation and feedback (You lost a call—no cookie for you) combined with the ever-present threat of retrenchment (because BPO workers are easily substitutable) they realize that they may have been oversold.

However stress and performance expectations are not unique to them. Their salaries are quite generous in the context of the qualifications required for them, promotions reasonably fast and work environments far more employee-friendly than many other professions. Hence when they complain (remember the report is based on feedback from call center workers) that their working conditions are like slaves in galley ships, then maybe, just maybe, they are going a bit over the top.

49 thoughts on “Call Centers Are Slave Ships?

  1. The other thing I’ve heard complaints about is the compensation. Apparently it’s very little compared to what the Americans make at similar jobs!

  2. great post…Arnab…keep it up…

  3. I come from a middleclass family & as a fresher with 2nd class , there wasnt really any opportunity other than a bpo that would pay me for my IIM aspirations. The business was new (and it still is) & the pay was fantastic.
    The night shifts didnt matter as i was always a late nighter for studing or drinking :P. The one thing that irritated me was my friends always queried/ribbed me about my work. I was assumed to be wasting my life , it was assumed i was scoring chicks by the dozen (nope id didnt get any , maybe its just me :S ) , slept in the day , studied in the evenins, hung around outside wid the boys, quite after a year. IIM-C.

    – the one who calls him banga bandhu

  4. Nice, the BPOs may not be slave ships, and they may pay well, and empower Indian youth today. But they are a terrible waste of time. It is frightening to think of a vast number of urban youth wasting away doing this insipid work.
    I think money, youth, odd hours and a job with little intellectual stimulation is a recipe for disaster.
    As it is they are talking of Banaglore being Bangalored. What’ll happen to India, when these BPOs and Call Centers decide to pick up and leave. They will leave behind a moraine of semi-educated once-young urban kids, who have habits they can no longer support, no investment and no opportunity.
    I hate to sound all doomsdayish and sanctimonious, but I have managed to screw myself in a very similar manner. And I think we need to be warned. In my opinion BPOs are less like slave ships and more like the TITANIC. Enticing, easy and eventually disastrous.

  5. Arnab
    This lifestyle is comparable to high school kids or freshman college students here. They work at the GAP’s or restaurants, coffee digs to make cash on the side. Some of them blow it up on bars, malls and parties while others fund their education.
    I think all the bourhaha is because traditional professionals are envious that these Bacheleors onlyhigh school drop outs are making money that they only dreamt about earning, IMHO.As for the midnight sex romps, they are just aberrations, I’m sure.

  6. @Sujatha: Yes I suppose they do…which is why the jobs in India are there in the first place….one more obvious complaint.

    @Avik: Thanks…

    @Anon1: Well there you have it—you have used the BPO revolution for what its worth and you are ok with it…now wish everyone shared your pragmatism.

    Cal IIM…which batch? Just curious…who taught you Economics in the first sem?

    @Pareshaan: Valid point. The BPO bubble, like the dot com revolution, cannot be sustained in the long run and then we will have a generation of disgruntled 30-somethings who are used to the good life but have no real qualifications.

    @Chappan: The survey is based on responses by call center its not really due to the jealousy of people outside the BPO industry.And the guy flipping burgers in Burger King gets minimum wage (or a little more)—BPO workers are making way more than that (in Indian terms).

  7. Nice post. I agree that ppl crib for no reason at times:-)

  8. fan-of-greatbong November 6, 2005 — 5:14 pm

    great post.. friend.
    @others,…. please go to the post of Arnab about “One down and a milion to go” and bust Akash the darpok

  9. *nodding in agreement*

    the bpo industry has taken a lot of flack (not just from your friendly neighborhood CPI(M) ranter with no accountability). But given that it has provided tons of otherwise “unemployable” students jobs, and created wealth that spawns secondary industries (food, consumer goods, transport..whatever else), i don’t care if the hours are hard. If they didn’t like it, they’d leave and go elsewhere (it’s not bonded labor) but they stay….for a reason. It’s given them something they never had before.

    So…..we can just go ahead and show the finger to all those morons who call it slave trade and coolie labor.

  10. hey… nice post on the backoffice folks….. no doubt the work is tough… but nonetheless a finite chapter in the journey of India up the business value chain…

  11. amazing post…. really well put!

  12. Sujatha —

    To address the discrepancy between American and Indian wages, you also have to consider cost of living in each city, etc. India and America are not the same country — housing, services, cars, food all are priced differently. Whereas in the States (from whence I hail) you are below the poverty line if you make less than $12,000 a year (thus making you eligible for federal funding, vouchers for food, other government assistance), I make far less than even that amount — I currently am living and working in South India. But I am more than happy with my salary, have a nice flat, and have enough to eat. Why should I want more? My standard of living here arguably is higher than it was in the States.

    Evidence of this: On the list of the 144 most expensive cities to live in in the world, Mumbai is number 109. Delhi is 116. Chennai, 132. Bangalore, 137. New York? 12th in the world. LA 27, Chicago 35, San Francisco 38. Not really comparable. (This is from a Mercer Human Resource Consulting study in 2004.)

    So I guess what I’m saying is that if you converted the salary of a BPO worker from rupees to dollars, no, they wouldn’t be making the same amount as a call center employee in say, Chicago. But they also don’t have the same cost of living, and so forth.

  13. awesome! brilliantly written post. i’ll hire u for my lawyer if i’m in a soup.

    i’m sure the BPO workers also appreciate what they have. they were just ‘cribbing’ … nothing serious. whats the point having a job if u cant crib about it. like whats the point having a guy if u cant bitch about him 🙂

    whatever happens, all this is going to have huge implications on a huge number of things, in ways that i dont have the energy to go into.

    the times, they are a changing

  14. LOL this was fun reading 🙂

  15. Excellent. 🙂

  16. Excellent post. I enjoyed reading it as I did the rest of your blog

  17. @SD,fan-of-greatbong,Phoenix, Aekta,Ritzy,Vulturo,Yenyumyum….Thank you all.

    @SKDB: Finally got a relative of mine to comment on my blog. FINALLY ! 🙂

    @Sunil: CPM follows one rule for the center and one for the state….you wouldnt believe how much Buddhadeb has “capitalized” the state.

    @Prerona: Melord….I will not make a good lawyer. On second thoughts, the greasy slimy part—perhaps.

    @Never Just an ordinary girl: True.

  18. Everybody has been well expressive, however, if you ask me, BPO’s are allowing people to be flexible, creative, attentive, and spontaneous and responsible, all when at work. Eventually, they act the same at other times as well,ofcourse, if they want to!!! It’s true that the BPO envoirment gives you freedom which is sometimes difficult to handle but at the same time, it allows you the oppurtunity to grow both personally and professionally. Just like any other industry, this industry too has its own sets of advantages and disadvantages. It’s just the way you want to look at it. Nobody is forcing anybody to join or leave this industry. It’s is totally one’s choice. The industry is here, coz there must be some serious work that happens here and it’s no joke.

  19. Arnab
    Great post,
    but disgree with your comment on Bubble scenario which would leave these people out on the road.

    Its up to an individual whether to use BPO as a stop gap to fullfill his career ambitions or just stay there until the party ends.
    All I am trying to say is there is no need for any body to show sympathy or criticize the BPO employees. Any industry that can provide employment is good.
    If a person is smart enough he can take advantage of the situation (which wasn’t there for a lot of poeple with high career ambitions)to support himself to reach his goals, on the other hand if people dont care what they are doing and going to do and jump on what ever is moving(we all know we got millions) they are going to be screwed any way with OR with out BPO.

  20. I have read all the comments written so far. But I don’t agree with Pareshaan who says, these call centres are “a terrible waste of time. It is frightening to think of a vast number of urban youth wasting away doing this insipid work. —I think money, youth, odd hours and a job with little intellectual stimulation is a recipe for disaster.”

    The meaning of the words ‘insipid’ and ‘little intellectual stimulation’ dependes on personal perspective. For unemployed educated youth there is no job insipid – at least they should be able to respect the notion of dignity of labour. Try consoling an unemployed person by saying that the job available is insipid!!

    According to Arnab : “The BPO bubble, like the dot com revolution, cannot be sustained in the long run and then we will have a generation of disgruntled 30-somethings who are used to the good life but have no real qualifications.” The dot com revolution got busted mainly because(of course there were other reasons) the huge salaries/perks offered which can not be sustained at the time of recession. And recession of any economy can take place at any time. The reason the BPOs are here is that they can hire people at much less a rate than any developed countries.We should not complain about it – because if we do then the BPOs will move to some cheaper destination. In other words, we have to retain our competitiveness in any form(be it lesser remuneration, grasp of english) – otherwise we will lose them. China is fast learning English and trying to catch up with India with regard to BPOs. So we have to remain competitve and not complacent. When Titanic began to sink nobody believed the distress calls. If we belive/understand the problems relating to the BPOs and plan accordingly, then “in the long run” there won’t be any Titanic as far as the BPOs are concerned.

  21. Never Just An Ordinary Girl, that was precisely my point. As I say time and again to the people that complain about the salaries at BPOs and call centers here (and as Arnab points out) that is one of the most important reasons why the jobs are here in the first place. Guess my sarcasm got lost between my thoughts and the keyboard…:))

  22. nice analytical piece great bong. loved to read the thoughtful note.
    see i dont think we should ever ever complain about call centres. afterall india is a country of a billion. and jobs!
    isn’t it great that some of us, a great number of us are actually enjoying their youth by earning a lot.
    the people who howl and cry, can they ensure that our youths don’t lose their vitality. and without a job, no matter if he or she is educated or uneducated, the person is going to feel lost in this wild savage world.
    so what if they are ‘treated’ like “slaves”. afterall they are paid like kings.
    afterall, they are living like sultans.
    call-centre is an absolute moksha for the indian youth.
    nothing betters than an unemployment-buster, politicians can’t achieve it, critics can’t ensure it.

  23. You know why I like your post so much? Cuz like other bloggers you didnt respond like “Oh its bullshit….look at the Left..they are fuckers…etc etc..”

    Instead you hit the nail on the head ….the results of the survey were based on the responses of the call center workers.

    So instead of questioning the survey and who made what noises after the survey, which are tangential, we should rather concentrate on why the results of the survey are so. Statistics as we know can always be skewed to ones advantage.

    The call center workers should be grateful that they are getting that kind of salary for that kind of job. And yeah…that line about the engineer in the boiler room touched a chord..I empathise…imagine some of your mechanical frnds from ju getting into a core mechanical company and working nights in a hot furnace…no…noone would have said….oh hes such an eduacted guy but he gets only 6000 rs for such hard work. And the BPO workers dare to complain about their work!!

    Regarding the job itself, I thing all arguments against it …like moral arguments are baseless . These people would have roamed in the streets if there was no job. But they should not crib…but instead quietly make hay while the sun shines and have a plan B ready as far as their careers are concerned ….just in case they wake up 1 fine morning and see all the BPO offices gone to a cheaper destination.

  24. Arnab: Cal IIM, seriously? 1997 passout, were you?

  25. No I am not an IIM alum…just that my dad is a prof at IIMC.

  26. BPO’s are not doing anyone any favours by setting up business here. They are here because labour is cheap and they will move when labour here gets more expensive. So the people who work at call centers needn’t be grateful to BPOs for employing them. I have friends who work at call centers and the picture is not all that rosy. Organisations that do not allow you more than 3 days of sick leave in a year, never more than a 15-minute break in an eight/nine-hour shift are not model employers regardless of what those on this blog think.

  27. You are a slave when you cant take bio breaks and lunch breaks and work 16 hours a day for free?? ( ) and you are a slave when you cant take sick leaves when you fall sick!(3G).

    The money is good agreed ,the unhealth life style will never let you enjoy the money ..

    People smoke and drink to keep the depression and the constant stress down .

    Every day you are evaluated ,Every week you are evaluated on your AHT, wrap ,idle and hold time. Does this help you when you go for another job ?NO

    After 2 years you go for a job and the interviewer ask you what did you do in the last job . what do you say? I took calls! umm what else did you do ? I took more calls .Do you have any other skills ??

    —People who really really know whats going on …

  28. “Similarly doctors and nurses have also done countless night shifts without any sympathy” PLease!! dont even try to compare a doctors life to a call center slaves(advisors’s) life . Imagine a doctor working without a break lunch,bio break. And imagine every diagnosis he makes being evaluated by 10 people and the doctors job depending on the patients satisfation . IF it was like this all doctors and nurses would be out of jobs in one month!!And imagine every patient a doctor gets being irate !! (You just dont know what you are talking about do you 😉 ?)

    ” I thought that BPO workers were tied to their chairs by chains while being whipped by the floor manager.” Humm yes they are theres a head set on your head and you are not allowed to get up from your seat how about that ?? You are shouted at to sit down if you get up.

    “Another complaint against BPOs is that continuous night shifts screw up the body clock, making the employees physically and emotionally drained. ”

    Sitting in america typing on a keyboard you just dont know whats happening in the world do you??
    Working in the night shift you get acidity and your eyes get bloodshot how ever much you try to get you body clock to synch . You die to see the day and be awake when everyone around you are awake.

    “Their salaries are quite generous in the context of the qualifications required for them, promotions reasonably fast and work environments far more employee-friendly than many other professions”

    Umm where the hell are you getting all the wrong info lol.
    Salaries are not generous to the amount of work put in and you know it . Promotions are never there .There are people working in call centers for 3 years (ready 30 years in a normal job) and like a TOM at 3G(call center ) said some of you will always remain advisors .

  29. To James Kann (Cann):

    Look here. I have quite a decent idea of what people in call centers make…and its way way over what their qualifications are worth. However I dont grudge them that. They know what they are going into when they join a BPO and then being a crybaby just makes them look petulant and spoilt.

    The working conditions at BPOs are far better than those enjoyed by many other professions who bear their burden manfully. Now I too have friends working at BPOs (who doesnt) and yes even though I sit in US I can be informed about conditions at BPOs…they arent defense installations you know.

    And as to my pampered life in US, I too have spent many nights at work, have been shouted at by my advisor, had my performance evaluated and all for a pittance. However it comes with the territory, I knew about it when I joined and I dont come running to Mama crying waaaaah.

  30. Arnab – two excellent quotes from your post, “The reason for their dissatisfaction may very well be that recruiters, in their eagerness to hire people in an industry with high attrition rates, paint an overtly rosy picture … neglecting to mention the downsides and once employees experience the monotony of saying the same thing over and over again … they realize that they may have been oversold.” (I have removed some text simply to make the section smaller) — I think the media is more to blame than the recruiters. TOI for example is full of stories of the “BPO Wave” and the way it is packaged – is bound to strike a cord with youngsters.

    The second – “we will have a generation of disgruntled 30-somethings who are used to the good life but have no real qualifications.” I think this is a real threat in the long term. Unless there is something that replaces the BPO – we would have a societt full of middle aged people who are not only unemployed but unemployable.

  31. Saudações!
    Engraçado seu comentário sobre Call Center, porque eu trabalho em call center de telefonia aqui no Brasil.
    Tenha um Ótima semana!

  32. don’t know what the complaigning is about…. people are joining these BPO jobs knowing that there will be night shifts.. .then what’s the crying about ? Everyone needs to make tradeoffs. If you don’t like it, quit ! No one points a gun in your head and forces you to work in the BPO industry.

    In general, I am apalled at people taking a decision knowing in advance the pros and cons, and then cribbing non-stop about the cons. Life is all about taking decisions and living with ALL the consequences of the decision. It’s like marriage.

    I am working in the IT industry… it’s no different here.. it’s frustrating to see people coming to the industry straight from college, getting paid way off what they contribute to the employer, and instead of working hard/effectively, and learning the tricks of the trade, people constantly cribbing about salaries and promotions. C’mon ! in any other industry, salaries are much lesser and work conditions not as employee friendly. So IT employees should be counting their blessings.
    But no, we just crib and crib and crib.


  33. Hilarous Post…enjoyed reading it….
    @Greatbong u really ROCKS buddy…
    i also appreciate the views shared by all…keep up the good work goin
    @never just an ordinary gal…wht u mentioned is too true…hats off to ur survey n knowledge…if have more plz do share..
    @sujata…losing urself in keyboard n thoughts is ok..beaware u dun get lose urself in hard situations…try overcoming it…

  34. Call Centre Hell is world wide. Every country that has a call centre is having amazing stories of Employee mistreatment.

    The main problem is the issues one at a time it is the state of mental and pyhsical health the employee is left with when the call centre burns them out.

    I survived 3 years in a call centre in Ontario Canada doing tech supoort for a major computer company. The tech support I love and could of done it to the day I died but the unbeleivable call time were crazy. It was clear that the out sourcer did not care if problems were solved for the customer all they wanted was volume of calls. Get the customer off the phone.

    Well needless to say I don’t work well that way. AHT was supposed to be 15 minutes and I was averaging 16.5 to 17 minutes but my first time resolutions were running at 88 to 92 % so it was clear I was solving issues.

    Employees that were punting calls and running an AHT of 8 to 9 minutes were getting the promotions but were running under 50 % first time resolutions. So I guess the in a call centre you don’t get a head by doing the job right.

    I have been out of the call centre now for almost 3 years and still have some lingering health issues caused from the stress.

    Last week I have set up a new website for survivers to vent and get help. ( so please feel free to check it out and under the whipping post link please feel free to submit anything to the forum but please leave the company or employee names out.


  35. I totally agree with Arnab, I know a girl at her 28, who is a client manager for a reputed frim, and when I talk to her, her mood sings and synchs we can understand, she speaks as if she is frank and open and sometimes speaks as like a pagal, you know and lot of lies comes in between.
    and surprisigly she is a Btech and MBA also! can u imagine working in a BPO call center as Manager. What a pathetic condition of our country. huh…. and the young generation drains their energy for some short term benefits and enjoyments which will make them addicts and cracks.

  36. Meanwhile a stressed out software coolie threatens his female neighbours

    Neighbourly ‘porn maker’ arrested

    A software engineer was arrested by the Saki Naka police on Tuesday for threatening to use the “latest technology” to put up nude pictures of his neighbours on the Internet.
    The women say that Srivastav would pick fights with them when they passed each other in the building, and then threaten to morph their faces unto nude bodies and make objectionable films with them.
    It is reportedly that his wife divorced him because she couldn’t handle his harassment. However, Srivastav says she was having an affair with their driver, and floated the harassment rumour to get rid of him.

    Srivastav had reportedly got the driver to confess to the affair, which he later showed his then wife.

  37. All thoes who are stuck with low paid jobs and have crossed the age to join the BPO boom and are jelous about BPO guys. Listen…….
    You are grunting about slavery in BPO. The industry that you are in now is flourishing because BPO companies or the person employed is spending to buy your goods and services and that is why you have got a pay raise. So dear say thank you to the BPO sector.
    Secondly the jobs that BPO’s are doing were were done and are being done in the parent companies. When it is done in the parent company its good and when done in a specialized company its bad.
    It was people like you who first opposed education, then work under some one, then the service sector, then the IT sector, the specialization of jobs and now the BPO.
    BPO guys people are used to critise every new thing and then accept it at a later stage.

  38. Are u all asleep?
    lazy gooses….india is da easiest place 2 survive n live…
    n the only problem is with the attitude n system…. currupted n lead by the wrong masters,,,, leaders with air head
    How hard it is to survive in oder countries one should go there n c
    den come back…2 india
    u will never ever complain again…
    n well…. Aren’t u2 resposible for wat u r …….we r,,,,,,,,,, goin throu now >/?>
    ME=der philosopher n non doer indian

  39. Hey this is not a good the call center are not goes for slaves and this problem occurs while there is not a good support by organization as well as employees so plz do not go for call center slaves

    Thanks from

    Call Centres

  40. Call centres as slave ships
    Call centres are basically for people who could not find employment in other industries, or were in small comapinies paying them peanuts even after they had reached marriagable age

    having worked in a call centre for about a year i agree with most of the report. This is an industry where Team leaders, trianers and mangers control agents through lying and maipulation. If the client requirment of quality is 60 the indian companies will make it 80.making sure that the agents are drained and exhusted by the end.agents are treated as a fram animals ,Employees want idiots who make noise and do this mechanical sensless work,any sort of intilectual or refined talk between employyes is discouraged.

    The attrition rate is unbelivable. In an american callcentre in india you will find that if 3 teams comprising 20members are selcted for training and eventually for joining the operation, after 3 months you will just have 1or 2 employees remaining,this happens and again and again. A uk call centre here would have the same thing after 6or 7 months. So all those who are saying why people are joning call centres then check this fact

    The hr departments are such shameless lying bastreds , that they will issue reports to the media stating that we have an attriton rate of only 35%

    Even a work experince of 2 years in a call centre is scoffed at by other industries , even team leaders and mangers who are the permanent members ofthe industry will not find empoyment in any respectable company

    These people are such basterds that despite having such an high attrition rate , they will not change the way they control angents through mangers and team leaders . They will employee an additional 25to 30% to comensate for the attrition
    The day these western comapnies find cheaper locations with less attrition rates they will move out.

  41. Great post. Stumbled upon it.

  42. Its true that people working in BPOs complain about anything and everything. But they gotta remember the fact that it helps them making easy money. Bunch of undergrads and not even undergrads sometimes making a handsome salary (according to Indian standards) has only been possible due to outsourcing. We must not forget about the situation when if there is no outsourcing, the same people would have to remain unemployed (yes without a job) because India cannot generate as many jobs as required. So complain as much as they can, the truth is, they are in a position to sustain themselves because of BPOs. And please don’t compare the salary with their American counterparts….totally unfair..

  43. Arnab Da, people will always crib about something good. I am working in the contact centre industry for more than 5 years now. And very honestly the kind of financial independence that I flaunt today was only possible because of the same. But of course there is indeed something called call centre culture and it’s not only prevelent only amongst the employees and the employers of a contact centre but also amongst the people outside. How? Well, initially I was working with a leading BPO in Delhi, with the help of my employers I had rented an apartment almost near my office. I had irregular timings, but somehow the people staying in the same society were never bothered as they were quite used to it. Then I shifted to Calcutta where again I joined another leading BPO. One fine day my next door neighbour came to our place asking for me(no, she didn’t have any young daughter) and asked my Mom whether I was into “export/import” business because of which I had to frequent night outs(mind the quotes please). Then I found out the difference in the call centre culture between Delhi and Calcutta. Wroking anywhere other than a Government office was never easy, same goes for contact centres. Yes, we do enjoy a bit of professional freedom where we get to call our superiors by their first name. As for the irregular working hours goes, I am doing it for the past 5 years and I don’t feel any considerable difference. I have a healthy social life. But people should understand we go their everyday to work, it’s our workplace not heaven that we would be supplied with 72 virgins to hang around with. We are professionals in every sort of the word. Life is not a bed of roses in a contact centre, but hey it’s the same everywhere, right?

    In the end I would like to say that I might be a bit late to join the GreatBong bandwagon, but it’s always better late than never!

  44. I just dont understand why mostly the women BPOs workers dont prefer to tell that they are working in a call centre.But still most of them prefer this job.

  45. I liked your blog and I’ve been reading your posts at a stretch until I stumbled upon this one. I presume that you haven’t experienced the life at a call center. If you did, you would not write this.

    Can you say something like ‘even traffic cops stand under the sun all day long.. why are you stone cutters complaining about exhaustion when you barely work less hours per day than cops ?’ May be this is a stupid analogy I am giving you, but I hope you get the point.

    This is like reviewing an automobile based on the specs from its’ manufacturers, without ever driving, or even looking at the vehicle.

    Any which ways, this is a useless post and serves no purpose, just like majority of the blogs I came across. Though, a blog does not to have to contain posts that serve no purpose and are just random thoughts digitized.

    For the above reason, I got more irritated by the reader comments on this post than

    Unlike other posts of yours, this one is neither funny, smart or like the ramblings of a modern mind. You are awesome at your wits and sarcasm. This one is over the top though.

    Keep writing.. 🙂

    PS. Excuse my poor english. I hope you would not pick on me as well.. 🙂

  46. At the end of the day, it all boils down to dignity of labor. The so called call center culture – namely drugs, booze, sex is prevalent in other industries too. And the Americanization only happens to a certain set of people who don’t have a strong upbringing and want to try and hide their true identities, and find this to be an easy way out. Having said that, BPO does make a strong case for itself in terms of revenue, profitability, process improvement, employment, standard of living etc., and adds to job creation across other industries within the value chain.
    True, some of the non-core activities don’t need intelligence, but that’s changing. A lot of smart stuff happens in contact centers these days, especially in the transactional, insurance, financial sectors which add a lot of value to the parent company.
    It is also an industry where only the fittest survive. All these people who stay for 6 months to 1 year or 2 years and are here in the first place expecting easy girls, and some FUN are the ones who call out the grapes are SOUR.

  47. And sorry GB, your post made an excellent reading!

  48. terrific post.. congrats!!!

    Call centers in Panama are crap…I worked in 4 of them..All are the same s**t..stupid qa scores,supervisors who know nothing about the job,stress,archaic software/hardware and… we have to listen to all the profanities of the most stupid customers in the whole world, USA customers of course…
    4 Instance:

    I want 2 speak to someone in the US.

    Is there a real person or a recording?

    I don´t understand u ..put me someone who speak English.

    where r u located?…In India or the Phillipines?

    When I was working in a recovery call center, a delinquent customer asked me… where r u located?..I told him in Panama, between Costa Rica n´ Colombia..he said: My information is near to a cocaine country?..then I told him:…I gonna make a question n´ I gonna answer it right away…What is the most drug consumer country in the world?…United States of America..Have a nice day.

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