I spent 90 minutes on the phone with United’s overseas call center in the Philippines yesterday…to make an award ticket change that should have taken two minutes. It underscores the importance of airline call center agents joining forces in a “Pickup Tour” to keep jobs in the USA.
I am not necessarily opposed to overseas call centers. But I vehemently oppose dumping poorly trained agents with poor communication skills in a customer-facing position. Unfortunately, both Delta and United use agents from the Philippines that are so inept that simple changes turn into marathon phone calls. Every time. Every single time.
I could go on and on with horror stories, but I’ll instead offer this question: how much money is saved when it takes an agent 10x as long to make a change than it takes a call center agent in the USA?
A Bill to Protect Consumers and U.S. Workers?
That’s why I am watching with keen interest if the Communication Workers of America (CWA) will be able to push its controversial new bill through Congress. The CWA is not limited to airline call agents, but includes thousands of them. Currently, the CWA is in the midst of Midwest tour to promote its cause.
Speakers at every stop are calling on Congress to enact the U.S. Call Center Worker and Consumer Protection Act, H.R. 1300 and S. 515, which requires that U.S. callers be told the location of the call center to which they are speaking and offers callers the opportunity to be connected to a U.S.-based center if preferred, and makes U.S. companies that off-shore call center jobs from the U.S. ineligible for certain federal grants and taxpayer-funded loans.
I don’t think this bill has much of a chance of passing in a Republican-controlled Congress. Furthermore, I don’t even know if the bill will help more than harm. But I suspect the populist President Trump would support it and I absolutely think the federal government can and should condition corporate tax benefits upon keeping jobs in the USA.
This is a timely protest — even before hearing about this action and proposed bill, I was about rip into United and Delta for forcing such poorly trained agents upon consumers. Even if this bill is not successful, perhaps it will cause some positive voluntary changes at major airlines and hotels while economic times are good.