TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Bell System Photo by Ansel Adams

Re: Bell System Photo by Ansel Adams

John C. Fowler (
Thu, 13 Apr 2006 11:55:03 PDT

Pat wrote:

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Not only are there no more offices open
> to the public, but many office staffs are being outsourced to India
> and/or Hong Kong and the Phillipine Islands. They can hire their help
> a lot cheaper in those places. Telco, like many other large corporations
> prefers to hide behind the anonymity of the telephone. That topic is
> worth a discussion on its own merits I think. PAT]

Believe it or not, as far as the Baby Bells are concerned, almost all
of their operators are still in the United States. There are some
long distance companies with operators outside the U.S., and some
non-U.S. telephone companies are also using "offshore" (outside of
their own country) operators, but when it comes to AT&T (the old SBC
part of it), BellSouth, Qwest, and Verizon (the non-MCI part of it),
if you call directory assistance on your POTS line with 411 or an
operator by dialing 0, you're probably speaking to a U.S. citizen.

Why are they still in the U.S. when a lot of other large companies are
hiring customer service operators in cheaper countries? Well, you
could come up with a number of reasons, but my personal theory is
because the Baby Bell operators are so heavily unionized. Unions may
not be as powerful as they used to be, but there are a lot of other
union workers that the local phone companies have to keep in the
U.S. (like plant workers). I don't think the Bells are all that eager
to rile up their unions and generate bad publicity at a time when
they're trying to convince government entities that mergers and
deregulation are good.

Things could always change in the future, but I bet your newswires
will light up if any of the former Bells starts wholesale moves of
operators offshore.

The broader topic of organizations moving customer service offshore is
another matter entirely. Currently, there are enough customers
believing Price Is More Important Than Anything Else that it's working
out for a lot of companies. Heck, some drive-thru restaurants are
even outsourcing their order-taking now to save one minimum wage
salary. Drive-thru order-taking is usually simple enough that it
works out OK. For more complicated dealings, like telling a company
why their product isn't working, I'm finding (in my experience) that
it now requires more effort than it used to. This is all still
experimental for a lot of companies.

What I'd like to see is an option like, if you pay an extra $5, we'll
handle your support calls onshore. I'd like that, just to see how
many customers would actually choose it. It'll never happen, though,
because a company doing that would be essentially admitting that
onshore support is better than offshore support, and right now they're
wanting to pretend like there's no difference.

John C. Fowler,

Date: Thu, 13 Apr 2006 16:26:14 -0500
From: Hudson Leighton <>
Newsgroups: comp.dcom.telecom
Subject: Re: Bell System Photo by Ansel Adams
Message-ID: <>
Organization: TELECOM Digest
X-Telecom-Digest: Volume 25, Issue 140, Message 7 of 11
Lines: 18

In article <>,

> Some time ago a US Post Office employee told me they would have people
> sorting mail at home. The letters would go along a conveyor belt and
> a camera would flash the address to a person at home. The person
> would then key in the address and the machine would sort the letter.
> This is certainly technically feasible but I don't know if it came to
> pass. The P.O. is heavy into opscan, and most mail pieces are
> pre-barcoded.

The mail that the OCR / barcode scanner sorter cannot read is send to
a machine with a camera and a remote operator reads the image and
enters a address that is barcoded onto the mail.


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