Aug 20, 2012
Letter to Washington Post Far From Exception; Demonstrates Need for Call Center Legislation
Washington, DC — A letter published in this weekend's Washington Post highlights one customer's frustrations with Verizon in the aftermath of a major storm in the Washington, DC, area this summer. The letter follows on the heels of local reports detailing Verizon's mismanagement of restoring 9-1-1 emergency services, while Verizon technicians worked more than 12 hours a day to return those vital services to the northern Virginia communities in the aftermath of the storm.
The letter, from John Johnson of Clifton, MD, offers a litany of complaints against Verizon, including the fact that his "calls to Verizon's overseas call centers were met (after waits of 45 minutes to more than an hour) with standard, scripted troubleshooting suggestions and line tests." Unfortunately, Verizon customers' experiences are far from the exception — just one reason why 78% of Americans have a negative impression of overseas call centers, as a recent poll by Lake Research Partners found.
Despite the broad support of the American public to revitalize the domestic call center industry in the face of American job losses in the industry, frustrations in dealing with overseas call centers, and security concerns associated with international call centers, the Republican Party and corporate actors like Verizon remain complicit in blocking call center legislation from advancing and strengthening international operations while American call center employees search for work.
Earlier this year, Verizon's reliance on overseas call centers created a political media frenzy. To conduct a media conference call dedicated to attacking President Obama's economic record, the Republican National Committee (RNC) used a call center based in the Philippines, the Chicago Sun-Times reported in May. The RNC responded to the revelation by pointing out that the call was run by Verizon.
Separate from the focus on Verizon, the larger issue of overseas call centers has become a political hot topic this election year, largely due to the Obama campaign seizing on revelations of Mitt Romney's role as a pioneer in creating the customer service off-shoring industry while at Bain Capital, as an investigative report in the Washington Post described.
In addition to Mitt Romney, the Republican Party as a whole is blocking sensible and broadly supported attempts to strengthen the American call center industry — which has lost over 500,000 jobs just in the past six years, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics and largely due to "pioneers" like Romney. In June, in a near party-line vote of 238-178, the U.S. House of Representatives voted against considering legislation entitled the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act to revitalize the domestic industry. The legislation would require that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking and offer callers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S. based center if preferred. The legislation also would make companies who off-shore their call center jobs from the U.S. ineligible for certain taxpayer-funded federal grants and loans.
CWA is intent on raising the visibility of the call center issue to voters throughout the nation. CWA's campaign, consisting of major grassroots actions and an online and social media push on behalf of call center legislation, will focus on over 50 Members of Congress. Most prominently, CWA is running radio ads and making phone calls supporting the candidacies of four congressional champions backing critical call center legislation — including U.S. Senate candidates Tammy Baldwin (WI) and Martin Heinrich (NM), as well as the U.S. House candidacies of original call center legislation sponsor Tim Bishop (NY) and Betty Sutton (OH).
For Immediate Release: August 20, 2012