You’re imprisoned in a small cubicle. You’re wearing a headset. Your phone rings constantly, and you’ve no choice but to answer it. You’re watched, compared, clocked, and recorded all day long. You might, if you’re lucky, make more than the minimum wage. ▪ This is not a scene from 1984. It’s the world of Big Brother, all right, but it’s with us here and now — in the modern call center. ▪ The job of dealing with customers on the phone all day long has always been tedious, but for the maniacally competitive retail enterprises of the 21st century, the pressure to gain customers and keep them happy is relentless. Hence the birth of a whole new kind of establishment to “manage” customers: the call-center-cum-sweatshop, where the typical operator toils day after day to meet strict quotas for the number of calls handled, time on the phone, and sales made, and where burnout is so rampant that turnover averages about 40% a year and can soar as high as 400%.
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