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Life on the Other End of the Tech Support Line 337

Posted by Zonk
from the better-than-some-gigs dept.
Ant writes to mention a PC World article about life on the other end of the tech support line. From the article: "According to interviewees, entry-level jobs at U.S. tech support firms pay about $7 an hour. Workers for a third-party tech support firm in New Delhi, India, make less than half that. Akanksha Chaand, who holds an advanced degree in computer science and had a job fielding calls for Hewlett-Packard at Business Processing Outsourcing in New Delhi, India, made the equivalent of $13,000 a year working in tech support--significantly more money than many less fortunate people in India earn. In contrast, a tech support pro who now lives in Arizona says she was barely scraping by on her $7-an-hour salary with no benefits. The rep, who asked that her name not be used, said it was only a bit better than her previous job--delivering pizzas. She said she received two weeks of training before taking calls from the public. "
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Life on the Other End of the Tech Support Line

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  • Like omg and stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis&gmail,com> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:43AM (#15231373) Homepage
    When everyone and their brother wants to fill a role they're not qualified imagine that, they get paid like shit.

    It's like someone who studies to be a chef wondering why they don't make a lot of money at McDonalds.

    There are L2 and L3 roles which pay better. I know a few L3 people at IBM and they're smart people earning decent bucks [way more than $7/hr].

    So if these peeps are so damn smart don't apply for L1 support roles.

    Tom
    • There ARE higher level Tech Support jobs out there that pay more, thats true. However, there are a very limited number, how is everyone who is currently in a minimum wage Tech Support position supposed to get one, skilled or not?

      Your comment is like you going into McDonalds and asking the fry-cook why they aren't Head Chef at Mesa Grill, and didn't they know it pays a bunch more than McDonalds.
      • Yeah, but how many people aim for that because it's low and doesn't require a lot of actual skill?

        I can understand people who are truly [and I mean actually truly] qualified for more serious work and do the L1 shit to pay the rent.

        But if India is anything like North America in this respect [and I can bet it is] a lot of people use these shit jobs as a safety net so they don't have to try hard in life. Like learn real skills, apply themselves, etc.

        I get that bitch alot here, how do I get noticed without fir
        • I'm one of them. After about 8 or so months of looking for a job after I graduated, nobody in the area would hire me for programming, except the lying office of the state whose programming job required little programming. So I started applying for L1 support roles, and still nobody would hire me because most of my experience that I had in college was more like L2 experience. Finally I landed a job as an L2 support person. And it's only to clear my debt that built up while I was unemployed between graduation
      • by mrbooze (49713)
        "There ARE higher level Tech Support jobs out there that pay more, thats true. However, there are a very limited number, how is everyone who is currently in a minimum wage Tech Support position supposed to get one, skilled or not?"

        The same way I, and almost everyone I know in IT, did? By starting out as tier 1 support, learning on the job, demonstrating competence, and getting promoted?
    • by shreevatsa (845645) <shreevatsa.slashdot@g m a i l.com> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:37AM (#15231472)
      Have some pity for the tech support people — "life on the other end of the tech support line" usually consists of calls from people to whom nothing is obvious [rinkworks.com], and often won't listen [rinkworks.com]. Several calls seem to be from hell [rinkworks.com], and some even try to cheat [rinkworks.com]. Once in a while, the support people might hit back [rinkworks.com], but they're usually not allowed to.
      (It's funny, laugh.)
      • From one link:

        A woman walked into the room and came up to where I was sitting: at a desk marked "COMPUTER HELP DESK" with computers on it, one of which I was using. "Excuse me," she asked. "Do you know anything about computers?"

        Sometimes that isn't such a stupid question...unfortunately, the answer is always "yes", regardless of whether it's correct or not.
      • Here it is:

        ---
        I do network administration and end user support. A particular clerical person was always having problems running Windows for Workgroups. The hard drive finally crashed, and when we got it back I convinced the boss to load her machine with DOS only. I created a batch file menu, tested it, and then compiled it into an exe file. When the person was at lunch I installed it on her machine.

        When she came back from lunch she called and said her computer didn't work. I asked her to read the screen to
      • Wasn't windows advertised to make the Internet 'go faster'? At least in South Park the Movie the general had a good response to Bill Gates :)

        ----
        * A Friend: "It takes forever for a web page to load on our computer. How come yours is so much faster?"
        * Me: "Well, what kind of modem do you have?"
        * A Friend: "I think it's a 486."
        * Me: "Um, no that's a type of processor. What speed of modem do yo
      • Actually, what I don't understand is this phrasing of "the other end of the support line".

        C'mon, people, this is Slashdot. This is our end of the support line.

        Seriously, I was expecting something about the users' point of view...

    • by vertinox (846076)
      There are L2 and L3 roles which pay better. I know a few L3 people at IBM and they're smart people earning decent bucks [way more than $7/hr].

      I work for an outsource company (in the states) that does 100% phone tech support for corps and get paid... oh... Probably 4 times that... Of course we specialize in obscure applications, charge by the minute, and even help people write code over the phone.

      Of course I doubt you'd ever see Dell 1-800support assist its customers with Visual Studio C++ projects over the
    • Misses the point (Score:5, Insightful)

      by danceswithtrees (968154) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:00AM (#15231509)
      When everyone and their brother wants to fill a role they're not qualified imagine that, they get paid like shit.

      This sort of misses the point of the problem. There are a fixed and small number of well paying job and special skills or knowledge are required to get them. The number of unskilled jobs is very large- more jobs than there are people to fill them. These are the jobs that our president refers to as "jobs that Americans just won't do." These jobs are almost uniformly low paying, often menial, sometimes dangerous (recent statistic about 25% of all workplace deaths involve undocumented workers, which is disproportionately high).

      Unfortunately, our American lifesytle and economy seem to require these jobs. The people who pick our vegetables, serve us in restaurants, work in supermarkets, work in hotels, work security jobs, etc. They are everywhere. Imagine how life would change without these jobs/people.

      In fact, the American lifestyle is addicted to low paying jobs and what they mean- $2 BigMacs, $40 DVD players, cheap vegetables, etc. Companies outsource whenever they can to reduce cost and we , the consumers, reward them with our business. Over half a trillion dollars in trade deficits go overseas every year. Half a TRILLION dollars! Two or three years ago, there was a rumor that S. Korea was going to sell of US dollars in favor of Euros. Based on this rumor, the value of the dollar fell about a percent. China owns at least an order of magnitude more dollars (and growing every day). The administration accuses China of artificially devaluing their currency to keep costs of their good low. China/US relations quite frankly suck- US spy planes off the coast of China crashing into a fighter jet, the US bombing the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, President Hu visiting Bill Gates prior to president Bush, each accusing the other about human rights violations. The list goes on and on. China is a proud nation that is rising fast, sending up people in to space, and taking a more dominant place on the world stage. If/when they want to break the US financially, they almost certainly can.

      Meanwhile, we, Americans, continue to pay illegal immigrant works to do "jobs that Americans won't do." All the while paying other Americans money for unemployment and welfare (Add to that the problem of billions being spent in Iraq.) The national debt is increasing. Bottom line is that this is not sustainable. One day China, Saudi Arabia, and all the other countries that own US dollars are going to decide that the US dollar is not a good investment (would you buy stock in any company that year after year goes further into debt?). That day is not far off.

      I don't claim to have all the answers but I think that it involves something like paying people in the US a living wage, increasing the wages on "jobs Americans don't want" to the point where Americans would want them, stop migrating jobs out of the US, stop increasing the national debt, ie stop giving tax cuts with money you don't have. Americans will have to accept that it costs money to maintain our society, country, and way of life. It certainly does not involve smugly saying that if they are not qualified, they get paid "like shit."
      • by Shivetya (243324) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:43AM (#15231624) Homepage Journal
        Look, if your not earning a "living wage" then adapt. This means going without luxuries. I have friends who still work "dead end jobs" and they harp all the time about the fact they don't get paid enough. Yet they still want their cell phone, cable, high speed internet, and more. Of course its not sustainable on their income. Worse, all these "monthlies" they pay out keep them from having the money they need to get an education to move them up.

        The real trap is that too many people are convinced they deserve the "extras" but don't want to do what it takes to have them. These jobs that people complain about are for the unskilled. We are no longer a low skill work force but we do have many jobs that are low to no skill. Every economy will have these jobs. They are mostly to introduce people to the workforce. As many know there are people out there who just are not fit to work in professional environments. They don't have the personality, the required restraint, or the discipline. As such they will work these low end jobs. Some will take on more than one.

        When I worked for a large security company, think rent-a-cops, I was amazed at how little some of the people made. We even had a few of these people working the building and lot of the company. What I found was three types of people, there are obviously more. The first were students who needed a simple job with regular hours. Much of security work is sitting and they would take advantage of it by studying. They would do their walks and escort ladies to the vehicles upon request. The second were people in between "real jobs" who were doing what was necessary to keep their homes and their families comfortable. Many had the security job as their second job. The third group were the majority of our hires, they were the people with no initiative. They simply didn't want more to do. Their idea of a better job was one with even less to do! Don't underestimate the number of people who fall into this last category. Sure we can find many who are in these jobs that should be somewhere else but those people are the exception. They should be spending their off time looking for the better job and improving their skills to get that job. I know, I was in this category for 5 years after leaving the service. I got out and expected to be able to land a decent job yet I found that my skills were not needed or out of date. I spent 5 years in a "dead-end" grocery job and eventually got myself back into tech school with the help of friends and my parents.

        It was an incentive to not live that way that helped me move on. During that time I did without the big cable package, cell phone, and high speed internet. I didn't party every night or see movies all the time. I had an out of date car and for most of the time a 8 year old motorcycle to get to and from work. Sure it sucked, but initiative is the key. Unless you want to improve your situation you won't, you'll just bitch about how unfair it all is and never get anywhere.

        Paying a living wage can be a trap as well. What consititutes a living wage for one person is barely surviving for another. How do you decide? Also, how do you provide incentive for people to better themselves and their families position if even the bottom end jobs pay a living wage? This is the big lie being foisted on people. The caring elite don't want these people to succeed, they want them content in their bottom end jobs so they, the elite, can enjoy all their low cost living without feeling guilty. Keep the poor happy and have no guilt for living off them. Gee, how nice. The "American way" is to build a better life for yourself if possible and definitely for your children. A living wage does not necessarily encourage the attitude needed to do that. Its a crutch, like many social programs, that keeps people just comfortable enough to keep them from improving while removing any guild felt by those with more.
        • by Shivetya (243324) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:58AM (#15231675) Homepage Journal
          for what it is worth.

          One thing I kept from my low skill days is my disdain of monthlies.

          You want some real money? Simple, avoid nickle and diming yourself with all these monthly bills.

          I have a pre paid cell phone. Since I have a regular phone line, without any of the silly add ons like caller id and such, I only need a cell phone for occasional use. While others I know spend 40 to 50 bucks a month I spend an average of 7 to 10 a month. Cable? I have basic cable for less that $15 a month instead of the big packages that are 40 to 60 in range. I do splurge with DSL but negotiated with my provider and only pay 40 instead of the normal 50 that most of their subscribers pay. I keep a zero balance on my credit cards, never buying what I cannot pay off immediately. When I go to buy my new laptop I will be able to pay for it straight up. Sure it would be nice to have it now but then I would have a new monthly. I don't eat out every night or even every weekend. I don't eat out for lunch at work, I watch my co-workers spend 7 to 10 dollars a day for lunch on top of their morning coffee runs, hell I bring my own instant coffee to work!

          Get into the habit of not loading yourself down with monthly bills and you will see that you can do quite a bit with little money. Get into the habit of not buying your coffee house coffee every morning, eating out for lunch at work, and running a credit card balance and your income will seem to be many times what it is. Even I don't like the current prices of gasoline but since I am not burdened down with all the frivolous extras many people cannot seem to live without I can sustain the higher price of gasoline without a lifestyle change. I only have two kinds of monthly payments, my house and my car. So top that off with my bills needed to maintain the house and I can buy lots of "toys - read computer junk etc" and appear to my friends and coworkers to have more than I do. It took a long time learning what is really needed to enjoy life. Look, marketing works. You get bombarded every single day of your life. Too many people fall for it. They become to believe they need all these things, after all its less than a dollar a day, why shouldn't they? Well all those dollars add up and they reduce your flexbility and ability to deal with emergencies. If you lose your job what are the first things your going to have to give up?

        • My dad was in a management position, but it was for a non-profit with no money whatsoever, so he went years without his standard of living raises. Half of my childhood we were eligible for welfare, food stamps, cheap lunches at school, etc. We didn't use any of them. All it took was prioritizing - no cable, no eating out constantly, no name brand clothes, old reliable cars, etc. When I look at how many people in my current neighborhood are making 100k a year and are still in debt, it really sickens me.

          Learn
      • I don't claim to have all the answers but I think that it involves something like paying people in the US a living wage, increasing the wages on "jobs Americans don't want" to the point where Americans would want them, stop migrating jobs out of the US, stop increasing the national debt, ie stop giving tax cuts with money you don't have. Americans will have to accept that it costs money to maintain our society, country, and way of life. It certainly does not involve smugly saying that if they are not qualif
      • Government officials and policy makers talk about jobs Americans won't do. The reason why most Americans won't do certain jobs is not because of the work, it is because of the low pay! Americans need a certain amount of money to pay for housing, energy, food, as well as all the government-mandated expenses. Most mega corporations have become so obsessed with short term profit margins that they willingly sacrifice quality and customer service in order to squeeze another nickel in short term profits. Gove
        • An example of a job that now requires a college degree is that of a nurse. About 30 years ago, a person could become a nurse by studying some material and getting on the job training. Nursing school was also an option (which is a good thing). Now days, it is against the law to be a nurse without having a college degree.

          Don't be a tard.

          • Nurses (RN) need only complete 2 years to get an associates degree (NVCC has a good and cheap program)
          • LPNs have much lower training requirements and do a lot of the scutw
      • Since when is $40 an expensive DVD player? I've seen them for half that!!!!
      • don't claim to have all the answers but I think that it involves something like paying people in the US a living wage, increasing the wages on "jobs Americans don't want" to the point where Americans would want them, stop migrating jobs out of the US, stop increasing the national debt, ie stop giving tax cuts with money you don't have. Americans will have to accept that it costs money to maintain our society, country, and way of life. It certainly does not involve smugly saying that if they are not qualifie
      • I don't claim to have all the answers but I think that it involves something like paying people in the US a living wage, increasing the wages on "jobs Americans don't want" to the point where Americans would want them

        Or, Americans could suck it up and take the jobs, and realise that they're not entitled to wages above what the job's worth just because they were fortuanate enough to be born in the right place?

        A Mexican living in America flipping burgers has the same costs of living as an American, so how com
    • by fratermus (608212) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:24AM (#15231576) Homepage
      It is surprising how little they demand from L1 people

      A great deal is demanded from L1 people, but it is not obvious how or where.

      Here is the scenario: customer buys on price, driving him to the cheapest, thinnest-margin product. The producer still has to provide some kind of support out of that thin margin and knows the callcenter is a cost center not a profit center. The marketing and sales droids have already made wild and unsubstantiated claims about the product.

      Solution: staff the callcenter with lowpay quasi-techs and judge them strictly on talk time average and number of calls taken. Provide them with little or no training, no physical examples of the supported product, and no way to talk to the engineers that truly know how it works under the hood.

      The unstated real job of the L1 tech is to act as a punching bag absorbing blows for the company. Provide the lowest level of support possible that still avoids either customer revolt or calls escalated to management. Insulate the salesdroids, management, and engineers from any feedback on how their product is functioning in the real world.

      Companies sure love driving away paying customers with that

      If you can sell the same widget to two customers (one of whom calls your callcenter and the other does not) which is the most profitable in the short term?

      especially in the cases where it's painfully hard to get past that L1 moron asking "is your power cord plugged in" to someone who potentially could help.

      You might be surprised how many L1 customer morons don't have their power cord plugged in, or plugged into a wall socket that has no power, or it's plugged in but not turned on.

      Not knowing English (the tech support guy) for real doesn't help either.

      In my experience our Indian brethren speak better English than the American L1 phonejockeys. The current crop of highschool grads I've had the displeasure of talking to are borderline illiterate.

      If it's the accent you mean, I'd say between our lowest common denominator schools, tongue piercings, dip in the lower lip, Yo MTV Raps slurring and general apathy it's pretty hard to understand Little Johnny America.

      • 1. Follow standards, that way you don't need unique proprietary support

        2. Actually bug-test your product. Feature testing is not enough

        3. Supply the user with a competent manual that is detailed enough to cover most concerns

        4. Hire staff who don't write in Engrish.

        There are many things you can do besides setting up an L1 shop to support a product.

        Tom
        • 3. Supply the user with a competent manual that is detailed enough to cover most concerns

          I hate to break it to you, but most people don't read the manual, even if it's perfectly simple and accurate. They just call tech support and expect them to walk them through exactly what tfm says to do. Then they get angry when you politely suggest they rtfm (and that's not a sarcastic "polite" either, rudeness can get you fired.) I know this from experience, and it's a big part of what makes tech support such a shit
          • People don't read "the manual" partially because they're lazy and partially because for nearly two decades "the manual" has amount to nothing more than pretty pictures and advertisement for product add-ons.

            Tom
  • Hmmph (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wingman358 (912560) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @07:55AM (#15231387)
    The difference in the cultures make in interesting. Akanksha has a computer science degree and holds what is probably a very respectable job in his peer's eyes. Here in the US, the job could be considered elementry. Are the standards for a computer science degree in India equivalent to those of a similar degree here in America?
    • Akanksha has probably not made that good a career move - he is well paid for the moment, but it hardly gives you good experience.

      The fact that it is possible to get people like him to do a job like that is a major reason for moving off-shore: not only do you pay people less, but you get better people at the same time.

      As for Indian degrees, there is a great similarity to the US in that standards vary a lot. The best are very good but the gap in standards between the best and the worst is very wide.
  • by marcello_dl (667940) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:02AM (#15231400) Homepage Journal
    The main subject of the article is tech support, and that's fine (I guess death threats and lusers tend to be all alike all over the world) but examining the difference of income between outsourced and american employees involves taking account of differences in taxation, welfare, lifestyle...

    It's a broad subject that in my opinion has little to do with TFA and might be better discussed relating to jobs in general, not tech support in particular.
  • Low pay (Score:2, Interesting)

    by WedgeTalon (823522)
    From my understanding, the industries' average pay for a tech support position isn't typically that low. In the area I'm in, you won't be paid less than 8 for customer support and 9 for technical support.

    That said, they are still very crappy jobs with many centers having turnover rates that would make fast food places blush.
  • by Green Salad (705185) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:11AM (#15231420) Homepage
    So what about this is newsworthy? The U.S. job is entry-level and staffed with the bottom of the barrel. We're talking people whose last job was pizza delivery. Of course they're not paid much by the U.S. economy's standards.

    The Indian with a BSCS degree will get a job that pays well in the economy in which she chooses to live.

    1. If the Indian wants more, she should move to the U.S. where the demand for degrees and pay is higher. 2. If the U.S. former pizza driver wants more, a degree and experience is the answer. I've stopped visiting this site as often because of "relevent news" like this.
    • But you've hit the chicken and the egg right on the head here, if that isn't mixing metaphors too much. She should have experience and a degree if she wants to progress, and I would agree. However, how are you supposed to live and pay for school on $7.00 an hour? How are you supposed to get experience if there is no one out there willing to give you experience and a decent living wage?
      • However, how are you supposed to live and pay for school on $7.00 an hour? How are you supposed to get experience if there is no one out there willing to give you experience and a decent living wage?

        Well, every first-world country, not to mention many developing countries, will of course pay the cost of a college education, making sure your living cost and tutorial costs are covered given that you are indeed bright and interested enough to make an effort. Many countries will even pay the associated costs if
        • Unless you were trying to make a dig at the US for not being a first-world country (which by any of the common definitions it is), then you're quite wrong.
    • In the economy they choose to live in? More like the economy they were born in. (Shit, what a dumbass I am, I should have choose to live in Buckingham Palace.)

      Rent, food, clothing, etc may be correspondingly cheaper in India, but international plane tickets aren't. And visas aren't easy to come by; there's a long line at the US embassy every single day from people looking to get out.
  • Simply befriend a nerd. They are a common species of parasite and can be found in nearly all urban centres. They charge little for their advice or knowhow, and usually can be bartered with using goods such as 'Coca-cola' and 'Chocolate'.
  • Ofcourse... (Score:5, Informative)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:14AM (#15231430) Homepage Journal
    ...comparing salaries in absolute Dollar terms (as the article summary does) makes _no_ sense, really without taking into account the Purchasing Power Parity [wikipedia.org]. In short, $1.00 would go significantly further in India than it would in the US.

    As a rough of comparison, a loaf of bread which costs $2.50 in the US costs a little less than 25 Indian Rupees ($0.50). US $13000 is a little less than 600k INR [google.com] which by all means is quite a _comfortable_ if not princely salary to get by in India.

    • Re:Ofcourse... (Score:3, Informative)

      by qbzzt (11136)
      Purchasing power parity is the correct measurement from the employee's perspective. Total cost of employment (salary, connectivity, taxes, etc.) is the correct measure from the employer's perspective.

      If a US tech support worker with two weeks of training costs 1.5 times as much as the India university graduate (I'm assuming that telecommunication costs and taxes are eating part of the salary disparity), expect companies to hire the university graduate in India. It sucks if you're a US pizza delivery person.
      • It sucks if you're a US pizza delivery person. It's great it you're a university graduate in India. It's also great if you are a customer and you get support from a university graduate instead of somebody with two weeks of training.
        It sucks if you're a customer whose job was also offshored, and now you can't even afford the service for which you would be getting support in the first place.
      • It's also great if you are a customer and you get support from a university graduate instead of somebody with two weeks of training.

        It's not so great if the university graduate can't understand you, nor you him. In fact, it's downright horrible.

        When I call up my ISP to tell them that they are mis-routing packets to certain sites, it doesn't matter whether the guy on the phone is a high school dropout, or a PHD. What matters is that he understands you when you tell them you aren't running Windows, and coul

        • Yes, if support requires people competent to understand the customer. If a Pizza delivery person from the US with two weeks of training is more likely to understand the problem than a person from India with four years of post high-school computer education, then the US employee is worth more and can charge more.

          Is that really the case, or is it that you only hear the outsourcing horror stories when they use the India equivalent (Samosa delivery person with two weeks of training)?
    • Re:Ofcourse... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by elzahir (442873)
      Where are you going that bread costs $2.50?

      I can get a white loaf for $.85, and pretty much any style fresh from the bakery for $1.75 or less. You can spend that much on bread if you want to, but I dont.

      Although maybe that's because I work in tech support :)
  • I'm not sure why this is linked via digg. Here's direct link [pcworld.com].

    On another note, no offense to the people in the article, but do we really call someone a computer support 'pro' after two hours of training and a pizza delivery job?
    • Well technically, if they are getting paid to do it, they are a pro(fessional).

      The meaning of "pro" does not signify any competence in a job/task above the minimum required to get paid to do it.

      Remember as well, lvl 1 tech support is little more than learning the words and reading from a script, which as an interesting co-incidence gives a good reason why anime dubbers have such a large pool of VERY VERY bad voice actors to draw on ^_^
    • Just because she worked pizza delivery doesn't mean she's uneducated, though that's implied in the article. It could be that that's what she did to put herself through school. My last job before getting into tech support was delivering drywall. Does that make me unqualified for the job, or would you need to know my education before you could make a more informed opinion about that?
  • Game support teams (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Simon Donkers (950228) <info@simondonker ... inus threevowels> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:34AM (#15231463) Homepage
    Gamasutra [gamasutra.com] had an interestng article about support desks for computergames a little while ago. You can read it here [gamasutra.com].
    It gives an interesting list of what to do with which emails, when to press delete and when to press reply, what to do if somebody threatens to commit suicide and so on.
  • Tech support sucks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ravee (201020)
    I have seen many people who work in tech support complain about the unearthly working hours. Especially if the call center caters to the US clients, then out of the 30 days a month, one has to work for atleast 20 days in the night shift. The pay is relatively good. But the burn out is higher. The employees are given training to talk like the americans using the american slang especially if the job involves accepting calls. It seems really surreal to see one of these guys talk. And the people stay at one pl
  • by demongp (881564) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:55AM (#15231497) Homepage
    The blurb links to the Digg page for the story, not the actual article: http://www.pcworld.com/news/article/0,aid,125537,0 0.asp [pcworld.com]
  • by calice (570989) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @08:56AM (#15231498)
    I went from tech support to delivering pizza. Pizza delivery actually pays pretty well. I averaged $12-15 an hour (with tips and gas factored in), as opposed to 10.50 an hour. Granted, this was when gas was $1-$1.25. It's funny, i remember all of us drivers standing around bitterly complaining about having to pay $1.35 for gas. Damn that was high ;)
  • I've just finished nine months of tech support.

    I was paid 62k USD.

    Like a lot of jobs, the range of pay depends on the difficulty of the work you're doing.

    Some people get minimum wage, some people get plenty, and people in other countries find that the money they get paid buys a lot more of the local goods and services, so it's not useful in ANY way to directly compare only wages.

    Film at 11.
  • My experience. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Grey Ninja (739021) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @09:21AM (#15231569) Homepage Journal
    I used to work tech support for Comcast. I am also in an area that Comcast does not have service (Canada). So you could describe me as a person who had an outsourced job for a while.

    I live in a smaller city, where there's really a University and not much else. As a result, the call center has hired just about everyone in town who has the slightest bit of computer knowledge at this point in time. The real life blood of the center though is in international students at the University. It's often difficult for them to find jobs, but they have a great deal of technical knowledge (especially the computer science students). As a result, our center was the highest rated center for Comcast for a very long time.

    I got paid a little over $10 CAD/hr. I hear that it's gone up to $11.25 since I quit, but that's likely due to the minimum wage going up (it's $6.25). The call center is a complete shit job, and people only stay to earn money (providing tech support for Americans is right up there with jizz mopper), and the center has to pay us enough over minimum wage to be appealing.

    But that's my personal experience. I find it rather interesting that according to the article, Americans get paid ~$3 less than us. But of course I had plenty of experiences with the American call centers. Mainly cleaning up messes that they created. So I guess that the call management people I worked for figured that the extra $3 was justified, as the results were better up here? (Seriously, I could rant for hours on the American call centers... the one in lubbock, tx most especially. And believe me, I wasn't the only one who had to clean up MANY messes from that center.)
    • But of course I had plenty of experiences with the American call centers. Mainly cleaning up messes that they created. So I guess that the call management people I worked for figured that the extra $3 was justified, as the results were better up here?

      I think I know where you work - because I work there as well - perhaps even in the same call center :) One thing you might want to consider though, is you'll never know how many successful first call resolutions American call centers have vs. Canadian ones.
    • I live in a smaller city, where there's really a University and not much else.

      LOL, at first glance, it looked like you were describing my home town of Edmonton. Then I realized you said Comcast, not Dell... the similarities are striking, though!

      I find it rather interesting that according to the article, Americans get paid ~$3 less than us.

      You've also gotta remember that Canada is, believe it or not, a target for outsourcing. The lower dollar helps, and there's also the fact that the government largely fo
  • The rep, who asked that her name not be used, said it was only a bit better than her previous job--delivering pizzas

    Maybe sexual harrassment? I remember a guy on a metro bus in Lancaster, PA once telling his friend, and the rest of us, how much he liked delivering pizzas -- particularly the tips. He said $50 was his record for a single tip.

    So if you are toying with the idea of entering a life of tech support don't just offhand discount an honest living delivering pizzas.

  • One of the biggest challenges facing almost every support center and TAC I have worked with/in in my career is simple. If someone is really on the ball and works tech support they are at that same time soaking up knowledge, and usually getting free certifications from the company in their products (if the company has certs). This means that in a year or two they have much better skills at handling the software than the customers who are IT pros at these various companies. The software company doesn't wa
  • by eightball (88525) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:15AM (#15231727) Journal
    I am surprised no one has mentioned that $13k a year (about $6.5/hr) is almost the same as $7/hr. This assumes 40 hours/week for 50 weeks.
    So the question becomes, where was that money savings in shipping support to India? Apparently Americans will work for "Indian wages" for support.
    One possible difference though, there is no comparison between their relative skill sets.
  • Life in Indian call centers is bad enough to have been investigated by the people at Rotten.com [rotten.com]. The article is well written, illustrated with photographs and dismal.

  • Two replies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrNougat (927651) <ckratsch@NOSPaM.gmail.com> on Sunday April 30, 2006 @10:52AM (#15231865)
    1) As commented many other places, you get what you pay for. If you're going to pay $7/hr US, or less for offshoring, you're going to get tech support on par with the kind of service you get when ordering fast food.

    2) On the other side of that coin, if you are an employee of any kind, you should be doing your job to the best of your ability, not being an elitist prick to make up for what you see as an imbalance in compensation. Doing a crappy job for $7/hr isn't going to qualify you to get a job making $10 or $15. Besides which, you knew the deal going into it. You'd make $n/hr and be required to perform certain tasks (certainly including "don't be an elitist prick to customers").
  • by gone.fishing (213219) on Sunday April 30, 2006 @02:36PM (#15232802) Journal
    Back before outsourcing was a big deal I worked for a mail-order PC company doing technical support. I started at about seven bucks an hour and hammered on the phones, worked lousy shifts, and was required to work every other weekend. Usually, I loved the job but sometimes angery people got to me. I did have my life threatend on more than one occasion. In one case the threat was serious enough so that the police were even called.

    After a few years of doing this gig, I started getting calls from head-hunters at work and at home. The salaries that these guys were offering were more than double what I was earning! At first I resisted their efforts, I was safe and secure in my job and I liked it but one day I recieved an offer that I couldn't refuse. I was allowed to "name my price, name my conditions" so I picked a number that I thought was unbelieveably high, said I wanted to work Monday through Friday, and that I had a guaranteed one year contract. When they agreed to meet these demands, I couldn't believe it!

    I went to work as a contractor and worked for the agency for over two years when the company that I was working for offered to "buy" my contract from the agency. In the end they offered me a job with another raise, full benefits, retirement and everything! The company agreed to give me up in exchange for more business from the company. I am still there and have worked my way up the ladder.

    I can credit that phone-line tech support as being a great foundation for the path that I followed and the work that I am doing today. I am glad that I did it then and am not doing it now. It was an excellent and fertile training ground that opened a lot of doors for me.

    I can't help but wonder how out-sourcing will affect the future generation of tech types. If these jobs aren't around to give the "experience" that so many better jobs require. If these jobs are all overseas, what is that going to do for the corporate IS jobs that demand the well rounded experience a TS job gives?

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