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The worst call center in America

For two years I was a trainer and recruiter for a call center that handled billing and collections. I could talk for hours about the types of people in management and why it was a nightmare place. I’ll give you just a few of my favorite stories and I’ll try to be to the point. This is not a large company, maybe 110 employees nationwide.

We hired across three states and paid $1 to $2 above minimum wage in each state. Employees were able to bonus but it was very difficult to bonus. So they would come on board making crap wages and then we would promise them big bonuses that never panned out. as a result, we had constant turnover and I basically had to train a new class almost every month. It was a nightmare.

the manager of our largest branch was a guy in his thirties who had six kids with at least four different women. Not great looking by the way, just charming and cocky which apparently low-income low self-esteem women were attracted to. I only ever saw management approve one request to promote someone to a different department and that was because it was his girlfriend that he was sleeping with. She was married and he was in a long-term relationship with his latest baby mama… but it was very well known that they were sleeping together when his baby mama showed up threatening to kill this female employee. So rather than firing him, they promoted his girlfriend to a different department.

I repeatedly reported him to management for sexual harassment but since he wasn’t sexually harassing ME, the complaints didn’t go anywhere. I know of seven employees who left because of him sexually harassing them but none of them ever filed complaints DESPITE ME SPECIFICALLY URGING THEM TO. I would have students quit in the middle of training once they met him and realized he would be their manager. I would have women say that he made them very uncomfortable and come to me in tears. I kept telling them to go to management but they wouldn’t. we had a phone number posted as our anonymous human resources phone number but I learned later that that phone number simply went to voicemail that went to the director who was over the sexual harasser. She would listen to the voice of the person calling and try to figure out who it was, call them out, and then of course those people would quit. At one point we did use an outsourced human resources company but the phone number was not made available to employees which is absolutely illegal. They genuinely didn’t care.

The owner of the company was a sleazebag who was known to cheat on his wife. He would come in town for company events and pick the two or three most attractive women on staff and spend the entire event talking to them, placing his hand on their lower back or shoulder, asking them all about their personal lives.

the deal-breaker for me was when I was training someone who had a decade of experience in our industry. Halfway through his training class, he had a stroke. I wanted to just let him go off on unpaid leave since he didn’t yet qualify for FMLA, and then he could rejoin us for the next class about six weeks later. However, my boss mandated that I fire him and tell him to reapply when he was healed.

I refused. I pulled out every website showing how we were breaking the laws and how we were required to put him in an alternate position. Her argument was that it was a call center job in that since he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t work for us. That was the last straw. I had two weeks vacation planned so I took the vacation and gave my notice the second I returned.

It was frustrating to be in human resources and constantly trying to hold fun employee events and get fun activities for them to do while they were on phones just to bring the spirit up. Everybody was so negative and miserable. Even the prizes that we would get for them would make them bitch because they said they would rather have the cash. In reality the $300 a month spent on prizes split over 60 employees would amount to pocket change per person but they didn’t care. Nothing made them happy. Probably because they were making $10 an hour to get screamed at all day and when they did well, management said it was still not good enough.

I was on both sides trying to defend the employees to management and trying to get management to recognize how tough the job was and it was just a never-ending cycle of me trying to change the employer and trying to make the employees have a decent time. I finally snapped and left after the stroke incident and I still talk to a few co-workers who are still miserable, many of whom are alcoholics who are sticking around only because it’s the best paying job in a very economically depressed area. I have been gone for less than a year and it feels like a decade because my new company is so different and I will never go back to call center Management in any role.

So here’s the thing, call center employees. there are a lot of gimmicks and games that call center management will try to do to keep morale up and honestly it’s not great but there’s a reason behind it, they often are trying to incentivize above and beyond your pay just to make things fun. If you don’t show up to fun events and if you complain about every fucking thing, the fun shit will totally stop. but if your call center is breaking the laws regarding employment or sexual harassment or labor laws, please report it. I guarantee you there’s at least one person in management or it or something who would put their neck on the line to testify for you if needed. If only you would report the shit that you see instead of just quitting. here’s a great hint. If you have someone from human resources training you on your second day telling you repeatedly I’m looking you in the eye while they tell you how to report sexual harassment, run like hell or take note and actually report it when it definitely happens.

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