Last week, I got into a brief, but intense discussion with some of my peers on Facebook that stemmed from me posting the words: "Calling for a boycott of all companies who outsource their customer service call centers to India". I had reached a level of frustration with my cell phone company that would have driven some to violence due to a mistake by a customer service rep in India.
That status message sparked a string of thirty-seven comments like my friend Joe Pietrzykowski saying: "That would be boycotting a lot of companies..." to my old friend from high school Eric Pfahler weighing in with the suggestion that perhaps someone should compile a list of what companies have outsourced their customer service call centers to India, and other location outside of the U.S.
The key thing to remember is that the idea of the large centrally-located customer service call center was one that was born here in the United States. For those who are not aware of this, the idea of a single company handling order fulfillment, shipping, customer service, AND technical support of products offered by several other companies it was under contract to was born in Buffalo, NY at a company called Upgrade Corporation of America (UCA). I had the privilege of working for UCA in 1993, right after the company was formed. When I was hired, there were only about thirty-five people working there, including twenty-two of us who operated the call center 24/7/365 for several software and hardware companies including, but not limited to: Microsoft, Apple, Symantec, Seagate, Asymetrix, Sierra On-Line, and a host of others. From a single location at 699 Hertel Avenue in Buffalo we provided sales, shipping, customer service and technical support for a variety of products. It was a groundbreaking business and I was in on the ground floor. Myself and many of the other employees there were excited, and correctly saw UCA as being the first REAL big thing in the new business of e-commerce, and our chance to be in on something that could easily become as big as Microsoft... We employees in the early days had a much better than average benefits package that included profit sharing, and stock options when the company eventually went public. It's not a stretch to say that those of us who operated the call center saw ourselves becoming the next group of Microsoft millionaires, as in 1993 gross sales soared to over $100 million from $22 million previously.
The first blow struck to the employees was the news that as the record-setting year 1993 ended, we employees would NOT be receiving our profit-sharing benefit, as the Owner and CEO of UCA gathered the seventy or so employees that the company had grown to in only nine months into the warehouse for a meeting and informed us that he had "re-invested the profits into the company." I left UCA soon after (not by choice... harbinger of things to come), and over the next four years the company merged with Alexander & Lord to become Upgrade Corporation Alexander & Lord (UCA&L), then was sold to Japanese software giant Softbank, and the smaller spinoff Softbank Services Group was formed in 1995. From there, the company was sold to the private equity firm ONEX, and became ClientLogic, Inc. More recently, ClientLogic was acquired by industry giant SiTEL, which now operates call centers in Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Pamana, the Phillipines, Singapore, and many other locations around the world, has it's global headquarters in Nashville, TN., but not a single call center in the United States.
Now wait just a minute...
A company based here in the U.S. now owns the company that started the very business they have become the world leader in and make massive profits from, and all of the jobs from that original business, and tens of thousands of other jobs created as a direct result of that original company are now held outside of the United States???
A new way of doing business that would have done MORE than it's share to keep unemployment rates low, stimulate our economy, and shore up the Middle Class in times of economic hardship was systematically taken away from the U.S. work force and given to foreign workers with no intervention from previous Federal Government Administrations, both Republican and Democrat. (Bill Clinton, I'm looking at YOU.)
To start the ball rolling, here is a partial list of companies I have compiled that have outsourced Middle ad Upper-Middle Class level jobs:
Glaxo Smith Kline - The whole shared financial services in Philadelphia, PA. and RTP, NC to GENPACT, in India.
Cisco Systems - Investing $150 million to expand its technology development center in India over the next two years. It will be Cisco's largest R&D center outside the US. "This will be Cisco's second-largest research and development (R&D) facility globally and the largest outside the U.S.," Jayshree Ullal, Cisco's vice president and general manager, Enterprise Line of Business, told a news conference in the southern Indian city of Bangalore. Cisco officials said the company had already invested $75 million in India since January 1996. The current announcement relates to fresh investments, they said. Ullal said the R&D facility would be based in Bangalore and increase its workforce to 1,500 tech professionals over the next two years from the current 500.
The Home Depot - The Home Depot will soon outsource thousands of jobs to TATA Consulting (TCS) of India.
Oracle - Based here in Minneapolis, has steadily increased the number of jobs they send to India. The trend is that when a position is open-posted, Oracle Management (the VP level) routinely sends the work to India, bypassing qualified individuals in the United States, for cheap overseas labor.
JCPenney - JCPenney outsources IT and HR functions to India now. "Outsourcing HR functions is the new trend" a JCPenney spokesperson said.
AT & T - The source of Misplaced's frustration of the last three weeks has transferred their Consumer 800 IVR development and 75% of their domestic customer service jobs to Accenture of India.
Fluor Daniel - Outsourcing seven thousand jobs to India within the next 12 months.
The Sutherland Group - Provides outsourcing to India for companies like ATT, Gateway, Avaya, and Intuit. Two-thirds of this companies employees are in India or Canada, those employees that are in the US are paid 1/3 the national average salary for technology positions.
Gateway Computers - Outsources pc technical support to India and has closed all Gateway Country stores in the US.
AMD Advanced Micro Devices - Has outsourced IT jobs that were formerly in Austin Texas and Sunnyvale California to HCL of India.
Delphi Automotive - This former division of General Motors has moved 1400 IT jobs to TATA Consulting of India.
Fingerhut Direct Marketing - Outsources its call center operations to India. In addition, the company outsources its IVR technology to India. In addition, the company harbors H1-B labor.
Citibank - Outsources all of their call center work, including banking and credit card operations to India.
IRS Electronic Returns - Has started a pilot program where some 2009 Electronic Tax Returns will be processed in India, with the intention of shifting ALL of that work there by 2011.
Prudential - Another company that outsources it's insurance and financial work to TATA Consulting of India.
Hewlett Packard - All Call Center operations now handled by several Indian phone banks.
TransUnion - Yes, a credit reporting company that has access to your social security number, and ALL of your financial and banking information outsources all of their customer contact work to India.
First Consulting Group (FCG) - The Healthcare consulting giant has closed down all of it's U.S. customer service operations and moved them to India and Vietnam... yes, all of your medical records.
Bell South - Project Horizon, Bell South's plan to move all of it's customer service and technical support operations to India, South America, and the Far East is scheduled to be completed by mid-2011.
EDS - In the process of implementing their "Bestshore Initiative" and lay off thousands of support techs and transfer their jobs to Bangalore India.
GE Capital - Outsourced all GE Capital IT jobs to a company in Bangalore, India.
IBM - Currently in the process of moving over five thousand development and IT jobs to locations in India and Singapore.
Schlumberger Information Systems - Outsources all development and support of it's Legacy software applications to Infosys of India.
Qwest - Thirty percent of IT development jobs have moved to India, with the remaining seventy percent to follow by 2012. Fifty percent of all IT jobs are already there.
Rand McNally - Outsourcing 100% of General Information Systems jobs to India by late 2010.
These companies are only a fraction of companies who have taken jobs away from an educated, qualified U.S. workforce and sent those jobs to India.
Think about the above for a little while. Feel free to comment on the above. We'll continue with this in Wednesday's blog.
See you tomorrow.