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Cross posted from CWA's Resistance Growing blog:

Der Spiegel is out with an expose on the appalling working conditions at T-Mobile USA.

Europe’s leading newsmagazine reports that to attract a buyer for the troubled company, T-Mobile’s German parent company Deutsche Telekom has demanded that its 30,000 American call center workers meet an "extreme" and nearly unattainable set of performance metrics:

Whoever is not able to reach these high expectations is faced with disciplinary measured, harassment and threatened with termination or other professional consequences, workers explain in the interviews. If all that doesn’t help, workers are even being shamed in public. For example, call center employees in Chattanooga had to wear a dunce cap for hours to demonstrate their alleged failure, when they were not able to meet their numbers.

A 41 year old employee, who suffered under this measure several times, reports that the dunce cap was moved from desk to desk until it ended up at her desk. Never in her life, she says, did she feel so belittled and ridiculed.

The harassment doesn't end there:

In other call centers, coaches were made to wear ridiculous backpacks, if their team’s performance did not meet the numbers. Other workers are being sent home to write an extended essay. The topic of the unpaid homework: “Why T-Mobile should keep employing me”. The unionists document that if the result is not satisfying, continuous humiliation, discipline and even termination follow.

And the pressure to meet impossible performance goals has only been hurting customers. Der Spiegel writes that to keep up with the competition, T-Mobile has resorted to unsavory business practices:

Trying to meet the performance goals, employees have taken to using dubious methods, which T-Mobile internally calls “slamming”. Slamming occurs when customers are buying a cellphone and costly features are being added to their account without their knowledge. That way, employees can improve their sales numbers temporarily. 

In the words of ver.di, Germany's largest union representing telecommunications workers, the company “treats its employees with brutal psycho terror.”

Click here to read the full article in German. The English translation can be found here on CWA’s website.

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Comment Preferences

  •  This type of corporate behavior illustrates (8+ / 0-)

    the continued need for unions.

  •  I have T-mobil and... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, IndieGuy, llywrch

    .. I am about to dump them of really craptasting coverage and customer support.  One day I got a message saying I signed up for a baseball tip service for $10 a months.  Tips like
    "when a pitcher is on a no hitter it is bad luck to talk about it"

    I did not sign up for this and yet i had to fight with them for days about getting it off my bill. They kept saying I signed up for it and I would have to get a refund from the company that generated the 'tips' yet the contact numbers I had for the company were all dead ends.

    Complete crap and fradulent actions.

    We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

    by delver rootnose on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 08:28:25 AM PST

    •  definitely ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      trumpeter

      sounds like "slamming."

      •  Yea if the... (0+ / 0-)

        ...company that gets the money for the service has any connections to T-mobil or profiets from it.  otherwise it is slamming by another party and may only tangentially effect T mobil in that I am absolutly pissed that they dont even check if I signed up for it before billing me or that thier system is so insecure that someone could do it without access to my phone.

        We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

        by delver rootnose on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:18:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  I was thisclose to dumping T-Mobile last week (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      delver rootnose, theRoaringGirl

      Their website was hard to use. Their customer service over the phone was not helpful.

      However, when I went to the T-Mobile store, it was a complete 180 and they were very helpful, almost too helpful.

      I have been with them since they were Omnipoint so I will stay with them until my two year plan ends.

      "Do they call you Rush because you're in a rush to eat?" -"Stutterin' John" Melendez to Rush Limbaugh.

      by Nedsdag on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 10:36:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Are there any cell companies that people rec? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mr SeeMore, trumpeter

    I really want to dump T-Mobile now, but I don't want the go to another carrier that is just as bad. Any suggestions?

  •  They can't get away with it in Germany (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    trumpeter

    ... because of the unions, so they're doing it here.

    261.A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience. -Ferengi Rules of Acquisition

    by MaikeH on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:11:31 AM PST

  •  Is there any evidence besides... (0+ / 0-)

    ...Der Spiegel, which as we know from another diarist devotes more attention to injustice in the USA than to injustice in Germany or the EU?

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 09:28:23 AM PST

  •  No wonder, (0+ / 0-)

    that I as a long term customer with T-Mobile was told by "customer loyalty" that I was not getting my grandgathered plan back as I was duped into giving it up.

    Such a lovely way to be told "fuck you"

    "My case is alter'd, I must work for my living." Moll Cut-Purse, The Roaring Girl - 1612, England's First Actress

    by theRoaringGirl on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 11:25:18 AM PST

  •  I know many T-Mobile people personally (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColonelTom

    I live in the Seattle area and have a family member who is employed by T-Mobile and has been there for over 7 years.  The work culture at headquarters is one of the best for employees we have ever been exposed to and I can't believe that this article is representative of the actual practice.  I was an executive in smaller companies for 35 years and am completely impressed with the way that T Mobile walks the talk regarding valuing employees.  They actually give me hope that the whole corporate world has not gone to hell.  Go to a store and talk to the employees before drawing any conclusions.

    T Mobile has been consistently winning the J D Powers award for the best service in the business.  Another indication that the article is dubious at best.

    Finally, The US entity does not always get along with its German parent.  They tend to be "teutonic" in their approach and this doesn't play in the US.  I think this has something to do with the article.  Remember that DT (duetch telecom) tried to dump their US subsidiary last year.  And if that merger had gone through, ATT would have taken over T-Mobile.  I also know many ex-ATT employees who have been dumped by Cingular when they took the ATT name and got rid of the people.  ATT is  run by a bunch of a**holes from Texas who could care less about users or employees.  

    To those of you who think changing providers is going to somehow improve your user experience, talk to someone who has switched from T-Mobile and ask them how that is working for them.  

    I am willing to bet that this article is bullshit, but I can't prove it yet because I don't have firsthand current info on their call centers.  I do know that they have recently made changes there.

  •  I am a T-Mobile customer (0+ / 0-)

    and have been happy with their service, and have a no-contract monthly "plan" that can't be beat. But if this is true, I will certainly contact them and then leave if they do not stop this worker intimidation and mistreatment. I would gladly pay more to know I was not participating in such practices.

    I wish it were easier to find companies to support who treat employees AND customers with dignity.

    Oklahoma: birthplace of Kate Barnard, W. Rogers, W. Guthrie, Bill Moyers & Eliz. Warren. Home to proud progressive agitators since before statehood. Current political climate a mere passing dust cloud; we're waiting it out & planning for clearer days.

    by peacearena on Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 12:19:32 PM PST

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