woberto Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 06:00AM
SMH - September 25, 2007 - 2:33PM
What could you do in 12 seconds?
For staff at a Melbourne call centre for internet service provider Netspace,
one-fifth of a minute is allegedly considered time enough for a rest break
Staff have also allegedly been told they are now only to leave their desks four
times a day - during set breaks - in an effort to increase the number of calls
A former employee said some technical support staff were now too scared to go to
the toilet during their shifts.
Netspace did not respond to questions about their treatment of staff. Instead
the company issued a statement saying it had "mutual respect" for its
call centre employees.
A call centre expert has said that running a call centre using only statistics
"burns staff out".
The information about the way call centre staff are treated at Netspace was
brought to the attention of smh.com.au by Tom Oliveri, 16, of Victoria.
Tom, who was working as a member of the technical support staff at the company,
is best known for fooling technology blog site Gizmodo into believing he was a
senior executive at Google and publishing a fake Apple rumour he wrote.
Tom, who was on an Australian Workplace Agreement, was fired by Netspace on
Friday. The teenager said he was dismissed after he revealed he was going to
write a letter of complaint to the company.
An email from Netspace to Tom, supplied to smh.com.au by the teenager, states
that he had been fired during his six months' probation period due to
"The workplace is a bit like a morgue now," he said.
"Because we weren't able to go into 'not ready' [mode], it meant we weren't
able to leave our desks. So people just wouldn't go. And because we couldn't log
out of the phone, I know people who would skip one of their breaks if they
Tom said he did not want to return to the company.
"My motive at the end of the day is to make a better workplace for my
friends," he said.
The teenager said that staff at the call centre were now too scared to go to the
toilet after Netspace allegedly sent out an email castigating their
A copy of the email was obtained from Tom.
The email, sent to staff on August 30, read: "[The company has] spent the
last couple of days reviewing the key statistics and key performance indicators
for the department and [is] quite troubled by what [we] have seen.
"Fundametaly [sic] it boils down to this, we are not answering our
customers calls quickly enough.
"Whilst there are a number of reasons for this ... the biggest single
problem is that people within the department are not available to take calls for
enough of their shift. Be this becouse [sic] they are logged off of the phones,
in a not ready state or any number of other reasons.
"This must cease, and must cease now."
In the lengthy email, staff were told they were to log out of their phones only
four times a day.
"[Y]ou will log into the phone at the commencement of your shift, log out
at your first 15 minute break, log back in when you return from this break, log
out for your lunch break, log back in when you return from you lunch break, log
out for your second 15 minute break, log back in when you return and stay logged
in until the end of your shift," the email stated.
"If you are unavailable to take calls for any other reason, you will put
your phone in not ready, you will not under any circumstance log out. In the
event that you have more than four logins and outs over your shift, you will be
expected to explain why this has happened."
Later on in the email, the 12 second programmed delay between calls is
"This time is intended to be used for composing yourself for the next call
and selecting the screens you will need to assist the customer," the email
"This should be all the time that you require, I do not expect to see
agents going into a not ready state after each call so that you can complete
tasks related to it. You need to be completing these tasks (such as filling in
RT, client info etc) whilst on the call with the customer. I can appreciate that
this level of multitasking may be difficult for someone new to the department as
they learn, however it should become a matter of course within a week or two.
Any agents who are seen to be doing this will be asked to explain why they are
unable to work in this fashion."
In a written statement to smh.com.au, Netspace co-founder Richard Preen said:
"Netspace is committed to good customer service and good staff relations
based on mutual respect. It does not encourage email pranks, either by
speculating, or engaging in protracted correspondence, about them."
Call centre expert Niels Kjellerup said call centres should not be run through
the use of statistics.
"When you start using statistics that shows that you are a call factory
rather than a customer satisfaction producer," Mr Kjellerup, senior partner
at consultancy Resource International, said.
"It burns staff out, it takes away their pride, it takes away their ability
to provide good customer service."
He said this sort of management happened when the centres were "hard
pressed to make calls with fewer people".
"The only way you can do it is look at where do the seconds go. It
demotivates, it makes for bad treatment of customers and whoever they're doing
it for is not getting their money's worth. They're not producing happy
shaDEz Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 06:31AM
yeah... so fucking typical... americanization, capitalism run amock... it is
time for us worker in the srvice industry to wake up and stop working for this
fucking american style management
i will not be using netscape in any fashion anylonger
and consumers need to wake up as well... but they are glued to their fucking
what if their tv's were to suddenly malfunction? then what?
this cunt tree needs to be destroyed... is the only solution
ahhh what a bloddy revolution it will be
too bad as well...
DarkKlown Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:03AM
For the early part of my career i had the displeasure of working in a few small
call centres. Not the best job in the world, any surprise they are outsourced to
3rd world countries.
I've also had a few beers with the Netscape owners in the past, nice guys,
however I doubt I'd ever work for them.
Whats stated in the article doesn't seem any different to any other call centre
where i have friends/family working. It's a means to a ends. No one forces you
to work in one and if you do expect to have your nose so pressed to the grind
stone that you can't breath.
Mint Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:09AM
Putting myself through school working customer service for a major credit card
company, i can tell ya its the sh ts. If you are dimwitted, slow, completely
clueless person that never stops smilin, you might enjoy CS. Having to deal
with so many utterly stupid people on a daily basis has made me close to
homicidal. Seriously. People will call in and be like "I didnt automorize
this charge on my credic card (yes the spelling is intentional). Who is this
company, Purchase Finance Charge. I never give them my number!" UHG.
Oh yea..the topic. That said this article still made me laugh. 12seconds. I
guess they dont even expect people to wash their hands.
shaDEz Report This Comment
Date: September 25, 2007 07:17AM
yes, but what other opts are there really...
hell i went exactly four years not employed( i mean not employed, instead of
un-employed... huge difference!) in the good ole "u.-s." of
it is all there is here... service industry
and we have no rights! only in the manufacturing inustry did we have any
and those have all been outsourced to third world shit holes; where none of the
people have any rights...
not that i am suggesting that people in those places should'nt have any rights
either... hell, we're encouraging them to take a stand as well...
but at this rate, us in more "priveledged" cunt-trees won't have any
well, i don't really expect anyone to listen, as they are all glued to their
fucking tv sets, but rather to just to escape from this before it's too late for