Dear Reader, I’m not going to name names, this isn’t BBC Panorama, there is no fancy hidden camera work, no entrapment style stings, and no flash presenters (we’re in talks with Chris Evans you see).
What I am going to do is discuss my experiences over the past two months of working in a Glasgow Call Centre. However, this isn’t going to be a name and shame, very little is gained from that.
I found myself starting at the Magical Place of Calls in Nov, first up was training, training which had previously been described as extensive, covering all aspects. I suppose that was the correct description, the training was so extensive that they gave you the answers to numerous quizzes. They also filled you in on all the daily bitching that took place on the call centre floor. How I would have survived without this daily update I will never know.
Beyond that, the training was far from extensive it didn’t prepare you for the actual job in anyway, so much so, it would have been preferable just to let us loose on the call centre floor to cause havoc, which is what eventually happened, I guess it’s easier to let staff go for doing it wrong if you never teach them it right, which did happen on occasion.
Out on the floor the environment wasn’t much different, from zombie floor walkers to motivational posters regarding fraud the place was delightfully moral boosting. Combine this was the fact that the hours were long, the pay was poor, favouritism was rife and you often heard staff in senior positions discussing other staff negatively, it didn’t exactly meet the tagline experience if you know what I mean.
Holidays? Forget it… Any Appointments? Forget it… Flexibility? Yes, for them, not you. At times I saw people’s shifts changed, not weeks beforehand, not days before hand but hours before hand. And what do you do? You bend over backwards to accommodate them because work is work, a job is a job. But this is, all things considered, low level exploitation of your workforce, who won’t speak out, who won’t stand up because they are too scared that they might be let go.
Endless opportunity was offered, go places they said. Well if you’re not the favourite you’re not going anywhere, in addition, many promoted positions were based on bonuses, rather than a real quality of life pay-boost.
Don’t get me wrong, there are worse places to work, so you may wonder why I have written this rather brief insight into the world of Glasgow Call centre and believe me it is brief, there is more I could say about the practices, operations and the lack of any efficiency in the centre itself, but I’m being usually kind here.
The reason I have wrote this, isn’t to complain about call centres, nor is it due to me being fired and harbouring a grudge, I wasn’t and I am not. It’s more to pose this question, how far are we as workers willing to let standards slip? At what point, do we stand up and say enough is enough, or do we ever?
Are we happy being treated as a number, expendable to the larger organisation, too scared to speak out in case the scissors are taken to the strings we precariously hang by? If we are that’s fine, go about your day to day business, live life to the full and be happy. If we aren’t however, and I gather many aren’t what do we do about it?