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Old 07-28-04, 03:26 PM   #1
chanster
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Delta Airlines Says "Pay Us or We Will Send You To India"

What a joke. I hope companies that outsource burn in hell.

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-- Financially troubled Delta Air Lines Inc. has surveyed its frequent fliers to see if they would be willing to pay a fee to speak to a customer service agent in the United States rather than have their call routed to outsourced centers in India.

Meanwhile, it was announced Wednesday that one of Delta's three call centers in India is shutting down. Delta would not say if the decision was related to the survey sent earlier this summer.

The question about the call fee was contained in an online survey sent to select frequent fliers. Delta is seeking to cut costs and raise additional revenue to avoid bankruptcy.

Spokeswoman Peggy Estes said the airline has no plans to charge customers who prefer to talk to U.S. representatives instead of those in India. She could not say, however, if it is something Delta might do in the future.

"In today's environment, we continue to look at all areas of our business," Estes said. "We are looking at many things, and asking a lot of questions."

The fee idea didn't fly with some Delta frequent fliers.

"That's just one step above charging to use the lavatories on airplanes," said Bruce Schobel, a Delta frequent flier from Princeton, N.J.

Outsourcing some call center functions — which saves Delta about $25 million a year — is rare among major U.S. airlines, industry observers say.

Chicago-based United Air Lines Inc. has call centers in Mexico and Ireland, but workers there are company employees. Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines has a reservation center in Mexico, but it, too, is staffed with company employees.

Arlington, Va.-based US Airways Group, Inc. only outsources customer service inquiries made through its Web site that involve technical questions about the process, and those questions are routed to people in the United States, spokesman Dave Castelveter said.

Those major carriers contacted by The Associated Press said they are not considering plans to charge customers extra for talking to a U.S. representative.

"Desperate people do desperate things and this kind of looks like one of those situations," Terry Trippler, an airline industry expert in Minneapolis, said of Delta's fee question. "I don't think this will fly."

The idea of charging customers who would rather speak to a U.S. representative is unique, observers say. As for other industries, Internet service provider EarthLink Inc., which outsources 70 percent of its calls, does not offer customers who would prefer to talk to representatives in the United States the chance to do so for a fee.

"That should be something an airline or any other service provider should give you as part of the service," said Robert Shostack, a Delta frequent flier from New York City.

On Wednesday, Sykes Enterprises Inc. of Tampa, Fla. said it has ended its India customer support program with Delta. It did not say why, and a spokesperson there did not return a call seeking comment.

Delta's Estes said the airline has two remaining outsourced call centers in India. Calls routed there involve select customer service functions including some baggage service and promotion sales. In the U.S., Estes said, Atlanta-based Delta, the nation's third-largest carrier, operates reservation call centers in 11 cities.

Shostack said he would prefer to talk a customer service agent in the United States because of a bad experience he had with someone at one of the India call centers. He said the person there gave him incorrect information about where some lost luggage of his was located and then disconnected him when he asked to speak to a supervisor.

"This goes to the core of Delta's problems," said Art Epstein, an eye doctor and Delta frequent flier from Long Island, N.Y. "Why would I pay to get service that helps me fly your airline?"
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Old 07-28-04, 03:29 PM   #2
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The whole point of offering customer service is to increase the happiness of your customers with your service and thus increase your sales. It's like a loss leader. If you don't want to acheive that, then don't offer customer service at all. Outsourcing phone support to India is almost worse than simply not having it in the first place. I think a lot of companies miss that little point nowadays.
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Old 07-28-04, 03:29 PM   #3
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might as well get poor countries to make our clothes as well.... oh, too late
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Old 07-28-04, 03:37 PM   #4
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delta is screwed. they pay pilots like $250,000 a year and their other unionized workers also get huge salaries. They haven't been able to make a deal with them, so they are looking for other ways to cut costs. I doubt if it will work in the long run.
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Old 07-28-04, 09:57 PM   #5
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Delta = Don't Even Leave The Airport
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Old 07-28-04, 10:14 PM   #6
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The major airlines are screwed anyway with regional carriers like Southwest able to charge discount rates for short hops. There will have to be some sort of reorganization of these behemoths at some point. Outsourcing is just delaying the inevitable.

I agree though that outsourcing is bullcrap, and it will hurt the US in the end.
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Old 07-28-04, 11:59 PM   #7
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I know I'm going to get flamed for this...but I just don't see the big deal about out-sourcing. Our great country (the USA for those keeping score at home) was built on free enterprise. If someone could do the same thing for cheaper and make money, good for them.

Now other countries are doing it to us and we don't like. Despite the fact we applauded those here that did it.

However, I strongly feel free market will win. Some people WILL be willing to pay more to talk to someone in this country. Then someone will develope a product that has ONLY "local" customer service. And if we the end user, are willing to pay the price, the company thrive. I see this out-sourcing as a phase. It is the "hot" thing to do. It will fade. Sure there will always be some, but think the popularity will fade.

Good example is the company I work for. Our product is not the cheapest. In fact it is amoung the more expensive. But we sell more of our product then any other company. We are the largest. Period. Why? We offer great customer service.
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Old 07-29-04, 12:10 AM   #8
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Here's the good news:
Quote:
Meanwhile, it was announced Wednesday that one of Delta's three call centers in India is shutting down.
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Old 07-29-04, 08:06 AM   #9
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If you do not touch your client, your job can be outsourced.

Plain and simple.
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Old 07-29-04, 08:10 AM   #10
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ooh Abs, touching the client could get you in trouble
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Old 07-29-04, 08:58 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sdallnct
I know I'm going to get flamed for this...but I just don't see the big deal about out-sourcing. Our great country (the USA for those keeping score at home) was built on free enterprise. If someone could do the same thing for cheaper and make money, good for them.
Agreed.

I doubt the purpose of this survey question was to lead to directly charging customers to speak to U.S. customer service people. It was probably more to gauge how much value customers place on speaking with a U.S. rep vs. an Indian one. If customers place more value on the difference than it costs Delta to provide it, you have a business justification for not outsourcing.
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Old 07-30-04, 10:22 PM   #12
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I went on vacation, last week, and flew Delta. I was in three airports served by Delta: Dallas/Ft. Worth Int'l, Orlando Int'l, and Atlanta Hartsfield. In all three, Delta was performing extensive rennovations of their terminals. Fancy-schmancy decorations, very modern looking. Tons of plasma TVs showing gate info as well as several at each gate giving various info about that flight. None of this stuff is cheap, even for a big company. I kept wondering why they were doing all of this when they can barely afford to keep the company running. It just seemed like a really poor business decision, to me. Maybe thats part of their problem..
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Old 07-31-04, 12:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by shaun3000
I went on vacation, last week, and flew Delta. I was in three airports served by Delta: Dallas/Ft. Worth Int'l, Orlando Int'l, and Atlanta Hartsfield. In all three, Delta was performing extensive rennovations of their terminals. Fancy-schmancy decorations, very modern looking. Tons of plasma TVs showing gate info as well as several at each gate giving various info about that flight. None of this stuff is cheap, even for a big company. I kept wondering why they were doing all of this when they can barely afford to keep the company running. It just seemed like a really poor business decision, to me. Maybe thats part of their problem..
And did you notice the boarding calls? They got some fancy computer/system where the person at the gate just presses a button and a computer voice announces boarder.

I love me Southwest Airlines...basically it is "get on the plane we are about to leave"
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Old 07-31-04, 03:18 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by shaun3000
I went on vacation, last week, and flew Delta. I was in three airports served by Delta: Dallas/Ft. Worth Int'l, Orlando Int'l, and Atlanta Hartsfield. In all three, Delta was performing extensive rennovations of their terminals. Fancy-schmancy decorations, very modern looking. Tons of plasma TVs showing gate info as well as several at each gate giving various info about that flight. None of this stuff is cheap, even for a big company. I kept wondering why they were doing all of this when they can barely afford to keep the company running. It just seemed like a really poor business decision, to me. Maybe thats part of their problem..
When a salesman is selling poorly, he buys a nicer car. It's about the image man.

I can't for the life of me remember what movie or TV show I heard that from.
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Old 07-31-04, 08:14 AM   #15
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As a seasoned travel professional, the bottom line is very simple: airlines suck, and the bigger the airline, the more they suck.
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Old 07-31-04, 09:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sdallnct
I know I'm going to get flamed for this...but I just don't see the big deal about out-sourcing. Our great country (the USA for those keeping score at home) was built on free enterprise. If someone could do the same thing for cheaper and make money, good for them.
I think you're missing the point. It is NOT the same thing! When customer service is outsourced, it is of a far inferior quality. The language and culture barrier are significant. So much so that it makes such service worthless.

I will not deal with a company that I know is outsourcing the customer service. When I bought a Dell, I didn't realize that Dell was short for "New Delhi" the location of their support center. The phone conversations I had with Dell "CustomerCare" was reminiscent of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine got bit by a dog and was trying to find out if she needed a rabies shot.

Outsourcing is not to "provide the same level of service for less cost", it is "provide a service for less cost regardless of quality and without any reduction in what the consumer pays". And this should be applauded?
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Old 07-31-04, 10:48 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sdallnct
Our great country (the USA for those keeping score at home) was built on free enterprise. If someone could do the same thing for cheaper and make money, good for them.
Virtually every non-U.S. worker in the world makes less than his U.S. counterpart. So virtually every U.S. worker could be replaced with a foreign counterpart. It would be a great boon to U.S. consumers, and also to corporations that sell goods here, but it would devastate the employment market. And most people have to be employees before they are consumers, so it might end up wrecking the sales market anyway.

This example is like the environment: each company can make more money by abusing it, and that company's abuse degrades the environment an imperceptible amount. But when they all start doing it, we eventually find ourselves living in a cesspool of pollution. By the time the full effects of the problem are noticed, the sheer magnitude of the problem makes it impossible to correct.

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Old 07-31-04, 11:30 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by sracer
I think you're missing the point. It is NOT the same thing! When customer service is outsourced, it is of a far inferior quality. The language and culture barrier are significant. So much so that it makes such service worthless.
If that were true, companies wouldn't do it, or will soon reverse their decisions.
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Old 07-31-04, 11:31 AM   #19
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So what, they've been sending people's luggage to India for a long time now.
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Old 07-31-04, 11:43 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally posted by Duran
If that were true, companies wouldn't do it, or will soon reverse their decisions.
Which seems to be what's happening here...the Free Market at work.
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Old 07-31-04, 12:19 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally posted by Otto
The whole point of offering customer service is to increase the happiness of your customers with your service and thus increase your sales. It's like a loss leader. If you don't want to acheive that, then don't offer customer service at all. Outsourcing phone support to India is almost worse than simply not having it in the first place. I think a lot of companies miss that little point nowadays.
It is worse, imo.

If you have no customer service, I know that going in and buy the product at a price accordingly. But if you have customer service and it sucks ass, you just make me mad as hell if I ever need it.
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Old 07-31-04, 02:08 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally posted by sracer
I think you're missing the point. It is NOT the same thing! When customer service is outsourced, it is of a far inferior quality. The language and culture barrier are significant. So much so that it makes such service worthless.

I will not deal with a company that I know is outsourcing the customer service. When I bought a Dell, I didn't realize that Dell was short for "New Delhi" the location of their support center. The phone conversations I had with Dell "CustomerCare" was reminiscent of the Seinfeld episode where Elaine got bit by a dog and was trying to find out if she needed a rabies shot.

Outsourcing is not to "provide the same level of service for less cost", it is "provide a service for less cost regardless of quality and without any reduction in what the consumer pays". And this should be applauded?
Buy why do you get to make that decision? The company does not you. Last I looked Dell is doing pretty darn well. And many companies are looking to Dell as an example. I won't argue if the customer service is better or not. I did have to return my Dell and had no problems. I have had problems with customer service here in the US (Comcast cable, Home Depot, are just recently). So I could argue, why should I pay for crappy local service here when at least if it were out sourced I'd have a cheapter cable bill?

I think it is pointless to argue if it is better or not. The question is will the end user (consumer) wants it. Dell does well by keeping prices down. Part of the reason is sending CS overseas. And right now consumers are voting. They may SAY they don't want over seas CS, but they want (and are buying) lower priced computers from Dell. And Dell will continue to do what helps them sell computers. I totally agree with you. You have the right to not buy from them. And if enough people do as you do, Dell will change. Free enterprise at it's best.
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Old 07-31-04, 02:18 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally posted by sfsdfd
Virtually every non-U.S. worker in the world makes less than his U.S. counterpart. So virtually every U.S. worker could be replaced with a foreign counterpart. It would be a great boon to U.S. consumers, and also to corporations that sell goods here, but it would devastate the employment market. And most people have to be employees before they are consumers, so it might end up wrecking the sales market anyway.

This example is like the environment: each company can make more money by abusing it, and that company's abuse degrades the environment an imperceptible amount. But when they all start doing it, we eventually find ourselves living in a cesspool of pollution. By the time the full effects of the problem are noticed, the sheer magnitude of the problem makes it impossible to correct.

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Well now you bring up an interesting topic. Do companies have a MORAL responsibility? And if you say yes, are you sure you WANT companies to try to set moral in sociaty?

I also disagree with you that every single job could be out sourced. First there is the practical (grocery store workers, the folks at BB, my yard person, my Doctor, dentist, the employees at Home Depot, the guy that installed my Dish Network, the guys that installed my new kitchen, etc) cannot be outsourced. Anything that requires local handling will be more cost effective if the people are here (I can't see a tech from India getting on a plane and flying here to hook up dish at my house, then flying home).

And I firmly believe the end user (consumer) will start to put a halt to this. Maybe people will continue to buy from Dell. But I think Banks, Airlines, etc have to be real careful.

My main point I guess, is that I see no need for LAWS to end this. Let free enterprise and market take care of itself. I also think there may be some jobs that are better service by outsourcing. It frees up our resources to do other things.
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Old 07-31-04, 02:44 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Sdallnct
My main point I guess, is that I see no need for LAWS to end this. Let free enterprise and market take care of itself. I also think there may be some jobs that are better service by outsourcing. It frees up our resources to do other things.
Huh? Exactly what resources are currently being used that could be "freed up" to do other things? Is there some big backlog of work that employers have and would be willing to pay these people?
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Old 07-31-04, 03:13 PM   #25
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Originally posted by sracer
Huh? Exactly what resources are currently being used that could be "freed up" to do other things? Is there some big backlog of work that employers have and would be willing to pay these people?
If the people of the US (and the US itself) are going to be the best, smartest, etc do we really want our people answering the phone and reading from a script earning minimum wage? Wouldn't these same people be better off if they were part of research and developement? Part of sales? Making NEW products? Teaching others? Starting their own company, etc.
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