FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 2, 2010
SCHUMER UNVEILS BILL TO REIN IN OUTSOURCING OF CALL CENTER JOBS TO FOREIGN COUNTRIES; BILL WOULD MAINTAIN THOUSANDS OF JOBS IN NY AND US AND PROVIDE INCENTIVE FOR JOBS TO RETURN
United States Senator Charles E. Schumer announced today he was introducing a bill that would help stem the flow of American jobs being outsourced abroad by forcing them to disclose to their customers that the call is being transferred abroad and by imposing a per-call excise tax on companies that transfer domestic customer service calls to foreign call centers and. The measure is designed to retain American jobs at call centers across New York and the country and to incentivize the return of jobs that have already been shipped abroad.
“If we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, than we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here,” said Schumer. “This bill will not only serve to maintain call center jobs currently in the United States, but also provide a reason for companies that have already outsourced jobs to bring them back.”
Schumer’s legislation would require that companies that transfer calls to foreign call centers disclose to the caller that their call is being transferred to a particular country. For instance, if a caller dials an 800 number and is then transferred to a call center in India, the call center would be required under the Schumer legislation to inform the caller of the country where the call was rerouted to. The disclosure requirement also forces companies to annually certify to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that they are complying with this requirement. Companies that fail to certify they are fully disclosing call transfers would be subject to civil penalties that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) would prescribe.
Additionally, Schumer’s bill would impose a $0.25 excise tax on any customer service call that originates domestically and is then transferred to an agent in a foreign location. The fee would be assessed on the company that transferred the call and no US company would be assessed a fee for a domestic call center. US companies would be required to disclose quarterly, and in their annual reports, how many customer service calls they received, and how many are sent overseas.
Call centers are information clearing houses utilized for companies large and small to service their customers, provide product support, and answer any range of questions from billing to technical support. Incoming calls are generally routed to these centers where a number of operators are made available to speak to callers.
Schumer said that this bill will also guarantee that Americans know what county their personal information is being kept in – be it a bank account number, credit history or medical history – and that this is important because foreign countries do not have to adhere to our consumer protection laws. The fees obtained through the excise tax would be utilized to address personal security issues.
The most popular countries for outsourcing of American call centers are India, Indonesia, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines, and South Africa – all countries with an ample supply of English-speaking workers that are willing to work for low wages. Call center workers in these countries are paid at substantial lower hourly rates that their US counterparts and willing to work longer hours for less pay which makes them enticing to US companies looking to cut costs.
“This bill will go a long way toward keeping American jobs right here at home,” continued Schumer. “If we want to stop the exporting of American jobs than we need to make it less beneficial for companies to layoff American workers and send jobs overseas and we can do that by providing disclosure as to where calls are being routed and less financially more beneficial to send them abroad.”