Is your Outsource Tech Support Fair Trade?

One thing that never really occurred to me until this weekend, and that is the treatment of those that do outsource tech support.   Since outsource tech support deals with an IT industry and not farm goods, clothing or other non-tech specific items it never occurred to me that perhaps outsource customer service may be under the same boat all in the name to provide something cheap. You watch enough news and you hear about some clothing company operating sweet shops some where around the world, even the U.S. where there are child labor laws.  While India has child labor laws that cover up to the age of 14, that still does not stop someone from making people work for very little or  nothing to make a profit.

It occurred to me  after reading  and then calling Dell while brewing some coffee. Funny how some things are so obvious,  yet don’t quite connect in my head.  I was just about to vent my frustration over a order gone wrong when I glanced at the fair trade logo on my Trader Joe’s Organic Morning Blend (In short Fair Trade offers a reasonable pay for work done, not to mention reasonable hours and working conditions).   The fair trade logo connected all those points together. My first thought was did this guy on the other end really deserve my rage?  Was he paid enough to bear my rage?  I doubt it.

The Outsource Tech Support Sucks(?)

No I am not writing a rant against foreigners that are being outsource for customer service.  While there are many exported jobs that I am unhappy about, I actually have sympathy for this guy on the other end trying to do his job.  He is simply following the script that Dell provided him. At best his training consists of either being handed a binder with a table of contents that takes him to each answer, or being told to refer to the f.a.q. section on the company provided pc (which may have been the pinnacle of  technology 8 years ago). When it comes to something not covered by the materials provided, you either get a long pause or are put on hold while they ask someone that may know the answer.  Then when he / she comes back with an unsatisfactory answer, they may have to deal with the brunt of a customer’s anger.

There is no excuse for a company using Outsource Tech Support(?)

I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to complaining about outsourcing, after all on some of my cheaper companies used outsource tech support with India.

I went with outsource support for one reason and one reason only, and that was to compete in a cheap market.  When ever you try to compete in a cheap market,  as with any business its all about money. While the techs I had here in the U.S. were very good at their job, it was not cost efficient to have them dealing with a cheap market for many reasons.  Read enough of my blog and you will know that the cheaper an account was the more likely  the account holder would place a ticket.  That was a fact that I would not see until much later when software was in place that tracked such details.  The other details that was pretty obvious was the level web development skill was not equal to higher paying customers.  On the much higher end if my customers did not know, they hired webmasters.  The more a customer paid the less likely they put tickets in for support.

I can tell you my outsource tech support worked, but not without constant vigilance.  Hence why I had monitors dedicated to chat, so I could jump in if needed, or come through on another chat program to guide the outsource techs.  The vigilance being one of the driving factors into me desiring to leave the hosting industry.

Not all cheap companies provider Outsource Tech Support

There are companies out there that don’t offer outsource support such as and I suggest looking up the results for yourself as this is a post about foreign provided support and not domestic.   That is a blog post for another day.

Having been an ex-employee of a major company whose current logo is “Save Money, Live Better”, or included advertising about “roll back prices”. Did I mention they had their employees go to competitors and write down their prices?  One of the big reasons I left them was the lack of employee benefits like insurance and money for college.  I had fulfilled my obligations to obtain these benefits.  Too bad I did not know the state I was in required these benefits for employees that work full time hours for more then three months.

The reason I bring Walmart in the mix of an Outsource post, is that low cost companies will sometimes do whatever they can to obtain a profit.  Like when Walmart bought Dead Peasant Policies on employees without their knowledge.

What is a Dead Peasant Policy?

Dead Peasant Insurance is sometimes used as a shorthand reference for life insurance policies that insure a company’s rank-and-file employees and name the company as the beneficiary. This means that the company receives the life insurance benefits when the covered employees die. This insurance may also be called “janitor insurance,” “corporate-owned life insurance,” or “COLI.”

Its the Outsource Tech’s fault(?)

I hear that a lot.  Just as I hear my mother complain about the quality of something she bought at the $ 0.99 store.  However she is willing to pay no more then a dollar for a lot of the things she gets at there.  She even goes so far as to return things that she finds defective there.  I honestly would not bother to return anything  after all it was not until 2 months ago I started going there as they started carrying my favorite energy drink for $0.79 and it usually runs $2.00 +.  Not that I have gotten anything defective from there, but if I did its just not worth my time to return anything. Its really a matter of math, in the time I spend going back to the store not to mention factors such as if I drove there or biked.  What could I use that time instead doing?

I get why people want the most for their money, but what about some realistic expectations?  After all how much are you willing to do for that $3.25 a month?   Are you willing to provide at less then a dollar a day service equal to what Pepsi pays for their hosting? Chances are that tech you complain about probable gets less then $0.01 of your hosting payment for having to help you out.  Sure there are hundreds of you on a server in order to make it profitable. Never mind that slow tech that is on chat with you may be slow because they are dealing with more then just you at that moment.

One of the things that I have seen while reviewing some 80 companies, those that use outsource support have a lot of complaints.  Endurance International Group being the owner of many of these companies.

When I first reviewed iPage, I had this weird chat session.  Where I am asked what home page I was referring to, that had me wondering how many hosting companies this support company worked for.

Turned out it was a large company that buys out other hosting companies.  Which I found out after I reviewed a company that shared a spot in the top 10 with Justhost, which was fatcow.

What I find interesting is they do not know what company they are handling chat for. Though the tech on the iPage review probable told me more then I should know.

I tend to think alot of these outsourcing companies that pop up out there do little to train their employees before releasing them to companies seeking outsource support.  Several years back before starting up my 2nd company I was trying to find a support company that could do it cheaply for the second host.   Trust me I was not eager to go with a cheap outsource solution.  But as I said before it was a matter of profit.  The cheaper you go, the more people you have to put on a server to make it profitable.  The less likely a you are going to put people on state of the art technology.   If you live in a area like I do where the cost of living is comparable higher then other parts on the world, outsource support is your best bet to make your cheap hosting solution profitable.

The first company I found was a complete disaster.  This was a former software developer if I remember correctly was in India.  I tend to think this outsource solution would have been the death of my company if I did not decided to monitor chats and the company had not started up.  As the people they provided did not even have the basics of for what they were doing.  For some reasons the owner of this operation thought my company would train people who barely understood what a pc was on how to be IT experts.

Their boss collected my fee and disappeared.  No surprise but they are no longer in business and the software part. there most industrious part was shut down.  Other wise there would be a post on avoiding them.

Outsource tech support versus Affiliate Programs

The main argument behind me not being for affiliate programs that pay more then 20% of what a customer pays is very simple. Yes the payment is tax deductable.  But lets take a host gator account that a design client of mine signed up for, I sent him to a friends affilate link on the promise he told he how much he got paid.  Being the cheap skate this design client was he went with the month to month plan which was $7.96 (never mind it would have been cheaper to sign up for a year or more).  That means that it takes 13 months before any of that money is put into tech support, its all being sent to the affiliate.  That also means that until the 13th payment, not a singe penny goes towards any form of service.  There are other things that qualify as a tax deduction which are things that would improve service, such as paying a decent living wage to the tech on the other end.  After all a happy employee is a productive employee.

As much as we may try to blame affiliates, and the companies that pay them.  The real problem is not the outsourced techs, nor is it the companies that employee them.   After all lets go back the product that started this post, Organic Fair Trade Wake Up Blend coffee from Trader Joes.  This is a product that caters to people such as myself that are Tree Huggers, and concerned with the well being of others.  I am not going to be on a list of people that buy blood diamonds out of Africa knowing full well the human cost.  Hence products that carry the Fair Trade Logo, for those that would rather not have coffee or other things under slave labor conditions.  Any company will flow to an idea that brings in money, especially when people stop buying from companies that operate sweet shops.

So before you decided to yell at an outsource tech, ask yourself how much did you pay for your  hosting package.  I welcome any outsource techs that want to share their experience be they good or bad.