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Life on the Other End of the Tech Support Line

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the better-than-some-gigs dept.


Ant writes to mention a PC World article about life on the other end of the tech support line. From the article: "According to interviewees, entry-level jobs at U.S. tech support firms pay about $7 an hour. Workers for a third-party tech support firm in New Delhi, India, make less than half that. Akanksha Chaand, who holds an advanced degree in computer science and had a job fielding calls for Hewlett-Packard at Business Processing Outsourcing in New Delhi, India, made the equivalent of $13,000 a year working in tech support--significantly more money than many less fortunate people in India earn. In contrast, a tech support pro who now lives in Arizona says she was barely scraping by on her $7-an-hour salary with no benefits. The rep, who asked that her name not be used, said it was only a bit better than her previous job--delivering pizzas. She said she received two weeks of training before taking calls from the public. "

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Like omg and stuff (4, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231373)

When everyone and their brother wants to fill a role they're not qualified imagine that, they get paid like shit.

It's like someone who studies to be a chef wondering why they don't make a lot of money at McDonalds.

There are L2 and L3 roles which pay better. I know a few L3 people at IBM and they're smart people earning decent bucks [way more than $7/hr].

So if these peeps are so damn smart don't apply for L1 support roles.


L1 is really really bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231394)

It is surprising how little they demand from L1 people. No wonder tech support plain sucks most of the time you have to call to some L1 number. Companies sure love driving away paying customers with that - especially in the cases where it's painfully hard to get past that L1 moron asking "is your power cord plugged in" to someone who potentially could help. Not knowing English (the tech support guy) for real doesn't help either.

As a customer I rather go get the products of the companies that are providing better support if I have to select from otherwise roughly equivalent products. I rather pay closer to 50$/hour for my L1 guy thank you.

Re:L1 is really really bad (1)

isorox (205688) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231409)

where it's painfully hard to get past that L1 moron asking "is your power cord plugged in

Most of the time it's useless asking this question, however most of the time it is the problem.

Re:L1 is really really bad (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231427)

I'd rather have a system where you say the problem and they actually look into helping instead of seeing where it falls in a script.

This doesn't mean paying L1 $50/hr. It means having L1 who actually know the product.

If I say I can't renew my DHCP lease it doesn't mean I have to power cycle my modem. It means the DHCP server hasn't released the previous lease or is refusing a new lease. But you think the average script monkey knows this?

I say pay them a decent proper wage [at least $20/hr] and expect them to either know the product or pass training based on it.


Re:L1 is really really bad (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231465)

More to the point, if they are just following a script then why do they even need to be humans? A series of web forms that walked through the script would be enough. Then they could use the money they saved by abolishing human tier 1 (which, let's face it, is a waste of time) on a competent human tier 2.

Re:L1 is really really bad (1)

probbka (308168) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231522)

Yeah, and then you can REALLY frustrate the people whose problem is that they can't get on the internet!

Re:L1 is really really bad (2, Insightful)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231544)

More to the point, if they are just following a script then why do they even need to be humans? A series of web forms that walked through the script would be enough.
Because people would want to talk to a real human, and would fill out the forms in such a way that would get them to that L2 operator as fast as possible. Hell, somebody might even put up a website somewhere showing how to bypass most companies' web forms.

Then the L2 would come on saying something like, "Tell me a little more about your modem problem", and the customer would say something like, "Oh, that's just what I put in the form to get to a real person."

Then things would get ugly fairly quickly.

Re:Like omg and stuff (1, Redundant)

Steinfiend (700505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231399)

There ARE higher level Tech Support jobs out there that pay more, thats true. However, there are a very limited number, how is everyone who is currently in a minimum wage Tech Support position supposed to get one, skilled or not?

Your comment is like you going into McDonalds and asking the fry-cook why they aren't Head Chef at Mesa Grill, and didn't they know it pays a bunch more than McDonalds.

Re:Like omg and stuff (2, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231413)

Yeah, but how many people aim for that because it's low and doesn't require a lot of actual skill?

I can understand people who are truly [and I mean actually truly] qualified for more serious work and do the L1 shit to pay the rent.

But if India is anything like North America in this respect [and I can bet it is] a lot of people use these shit jobs as a safety net so they don't have to try hard in life. Like learn real skills, apply themselves, etc.

I get that bitch alot here, how do I get noticed without first getting a job... You make work. Do work on OSS projects and get your name attached.

Any asshat can be alive for four years of college. It takes a real winner to apply it out of their own initiative.


Re:Like omg and stuff (2, Interesting)

chrismcdirty (677039) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231474)

I'm one of them. After about 8 or so months of looking for a job after I graduated, nobody in the area would hire me for programming, except the lying office of the state whose programming job required little programming. So I started applying for L1 support roles, and still nobody would hire me because most of my experience that I had in college was more like L2 experience. Finally I landed a job as an L2 support person. And it's only to clear my debt that built up while I was unemployed between graduation and finding a job.

Re:Like omg and stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231419)

However, there are a very limited number, how is everyone who is currently in a minimum wage Tech Support position supposed to get one, skilled or not?

Exactly, but these people seem surprised that they aren't paid much. Or we're expected to be surprised, or shocked or something. She isn't paid much more than when she delivered pizzas, but that's because her job doesn't require any more skill than delivering pizzas.

So we're all sat here talking around trying to work out what the story is.

Re:Like omg and stuff (1)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231416)

They - 99% of the time - don't hire directly to a tier 2 or 3, unless you are getting hired from a different call center. The rest of the time you have to join in at tier 1 and wait and hope to be promoted.... so you can get the great 50 cent raise.

Re:Like omg and stuff (2, Interesting)

RevWhite (889559) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231440)

At least somebody understands why helldesks really exist. Very very few companies will hire anybody right into a second-level team who is straight out of school (high school, tech school, or college). Everybody must pay their dues at a helldesk and then hope to apply for a better job at the company later.

I am an intern at a large multinational firm's internal computing support desk, and that's all that 75% of the people in here want to do. I don't want to stay in the area, so after graduation (in 2 weeks!) I will be moving and will have to start all over, probably at another helldesk. That's just how business works; they make you prove that you know something, then you'll get paid a little more for it.

Re:Like omg and stuff (4, Funny)

shreevatsa (845645) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231472)

Have some pity for the tech support people — "life on the other end of the tech support line" usually consists of calls from people to whom nothing is obvious [] , and often won't listen [] . Several calls seem to be from hell [] , and some even try to cheat [] . Once in a while, the support people might hit back [] , but they're usually not allowed to.
(It's funny, laugh.)

Re:Like omg and stuff (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231630)

And my answer is "boo-hoo!" a computer is way too complicated for 90% of the peope out there yet the damned software and computer hardware companies try to make these drooling morons we occupy the planet with believe that a computer is really easy and important.

It's not. 90% can get by very well and very happy with an appliance type device that you install software by buying a cartridge and plugging it in if you want to use that app. have 2 cart slots, 1 for OS 1 for application and use a removable Hard drive in a sled. the OS will not run anything from the hard drive.

Problems solved, no tech support needed, no viruses, no spyware, etc....

why these supposed "great minds" cant come up with a workable model for this is beyond me.

your grandma does not need a computer, she needs an appliance that can not get a virus or trojan or spyware and she cant accidently delete all the dll's on. same for over 90% of the other people you know and meet.

Re:Like omg and stuff (2, Interesting)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231473)

There are L2 and L3 roles which pay better. I know a few L3 people at IBM and they're smart people earning decent bucks [way more than $7/hr].

I work for an outsource company (in the states) that does 100% phone tech support for corps and get paid... oh... Probably 4 times that... Of course we specialize in obscure applications, charge by the minute, and even help people write code over the phone.

Of course I doubt you'd ever see Dell 1-800support assist its customers with Visual Studio C++ projects over the phone.

Of course the customer gets what they pay for when they use free support... I used to work at such a place a few years back for a major ISP (which I took because I was hurting for a job after the dot com crash). What they would do is just hire 50 people off the street and give them two weeks training... And they'd have about 10 of those people left in about six months.

Most of the people quit either were technically adept and just hated the shitty pay and job stress and then the other part of that was just the people who just didn't get it.

I think the only reason I stuck around was because of my prior tech background and the co-workers (a lot of us would go drinking together and even play EQ together).

Although, pretty much everyone I knew (including my supervisors) had in their favorites.

I'm glad I got out of there after a year of it...

Anyways... Because of the experience I usually try to treat any tech support persons I call with respect even if they are incompetent. If the company was worth a damn they'd pay them more training.

And taking your frustrations with the company out on the tech won't help you any... Whether they live in the states or India.

Really... (1)

calice (570989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231506)

If you are being paid 7 an hour for "L1 tech support", you are probably deluded into thinking you are doing something hard. We L2 people used to laugh at the L1 people who called themselves "support". They were customer service, nothing more. All they did was have people unplug their modem, plug it back in, if that didn't work they sent them to us. It was customer service, nothing more. No need for higher pay for that.

Misses the point (5, Insightful)

danceswithtrees (968154) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231509)

When everyone and their brother wants to fill a role they're not qualified imagine that, they get paid like shit.

This sort of misses the point of the problem. There are a fixed and small number of well paying job and special skills or knowledge are required to get them. The number of unskilled jobs is very large- more jobs than there are people to fill them. These are the jobs that our president refers to as "jobs that Americans just won't do." These jobs are almost uniformly low paying, often menial, sometimes dangerous (recent statistic about 25% of all workplace deaths involve undocumented workers, which is disproportionately high).

Unfortunately, our American lifesytle and economy seem to require these jobs. The people who pick our vegetables, serve us in restaurants, work in supermarkets, work in hotels, work security jobs, etc. They are everywhere. Imagine how life would change without these jobs/people.

In fact, the American lifestyle is addicted to low paying jobs and what they mean- $2 BigMacs, $40 DVD players, cheap vegetables, etc. Companies outsource whenever they can to reduce cost and we , the consumers, reward them with our business. Over half a trillion dollars in trade deficits go overseas every year. Half a TRILLION dollars! Two or three years ago, there was a rumor that S. Korea was going to sell of US dollars in favor of Euros. Based on this rumor, the value of the dollar fell about a percent. China owns at least an order of magnitude more dollars (and growing every day). The administration accuses China of artificially devaluing their currency to keep costs of their good low. China/US relations quite frankly suck- US spy planes off the coast of China crashing into a fighter jet, the US bombing the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, President Hu visiting Bill Gates prior to president Bush, each accusing the other about human rights violations. The list goes on and on. China is a proud nation that is rising fast, sending up people in to space, and taking a more dominant place on the world stage. If/when they want to break the US financially, they almost certainly can.

Meanwhile, we, Americans, continue to pay illegal immigrant works to do "jobs that Americans won't do." All the while paying other Americans money for unemployment and welfare (Add to that the problem of billions being spent in Iraq.) The national debt is increasing. Bottom line is that this is not sustainable. One day China, Saudi Arabia, and all the other countries that own US dollars are going to decide that the US dollar is not a good investment (would you buy stock in any company that year after year goes further into debt?). That day is not far off.

I don't claim to have all the answers but I think that it involves something like paying people in the US a living wage, increasing the wages on "jobs Americans don't want" to the point where Americans would want them, stop migrating jobs out of the US, stop increasing the national debt, ie stop giving tax cuts with money you don't have. Americans will have to accept that it costs money to maintain our society, country, and way of life. It certainly does not involve smugly saying that if they are not qualified, they get paid "like shit."

I hate that term, "A Living Wage" (5, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231624)

Look, if your not earning a "living wage" then adapt. This means going without luxuries. I have friends who still work "dead end jobs" and they harp all the time about the fact they don't get paid enough. Yet they still want their cell phone, cable, high speed internet, and more. Of course its not sustainable on their income. Worse, all these "monthlies" they pay out keep them from having the money they need to get an education to move them up.

The real trap is that too many people are convinced they deserve the "extras" but don't want to do what it takes to have them. These jobs that people complain about are for the unskilled. We are no longer a low skill work force but we do have many jobs that are low to no skill. Every economy will have these jobs. They are mostly to introduce people to the workforce. As many know there are people out there who just are not fit to work in professional environments. They don't have the personality, the required restraint, or the discipline. As such they will work these low end jobs. Some will take on more than one.

When I worked for a large security company, think rent-a-cops, I was amazed at how little some of the people made. We even had a few of these people working the building and lot of the company. What I found was three types of people, there are obviously more. The first were students who needed a simple job with regular hours. Much of security work is sitting and they would take advantage of it by studying. They would do their walks and escort ladies to the vehicles upon request. The second were people in between "real jobs" who were doing what was necessary to keep their homes and their families comfortable. Many had the security job as their second job. The third group were the majority of our hires, they were the people with no initiative. They simply didn't want more to do. Their idea of a better job was one with even less to do! Don't underestimate the number of people who fall into this last category. Sure we can find many who are in these jobs that should be somewhere else but those people are the exception. They should be spending their off time looking for the better job and improving their skills to get that job. I know, I was in this category for 5 years after leaving the service. I got out and expected to be able to land a decent job yet I found that my skills were not needed or out of date. I spent 5 years in a "dead-end" grocery job and eventually got myself back into tech school with the help of friends and my parents.

It was an incentive to not live that way that helped me move on. During that time I did without the big cable package, cell phone, and high speed internet. I didn't party every night or see movies all the time. I had an out of date car and for most of the time a 8 year old motorcycle to get to and from work. Sure it sucked, but initiative is the key. Unless you want to improve your situation you won't, you'll just bitch about how unfair it all is and never get anywhere.

Paying a living wage can be a trap as well. What consititutes a living wage for one person is barely surviving for another. How do you decide? Also, how do you provide incentive for people to better themselves and their families position if even the bottom end jobs pay a living wage? This is the big lie being foisted on people. The caring elite don't want these people to succeed, they want them content in their bottom end jobs so they, the elite, can enjoy all their low cost living without feeling guilty. Keep the poor happy and have no guilt for living off them. Gee, how nice. The "American way" is to build a better life for yourself if possible and definitely for your children. A living wage does not necessarily encourage the attitude needed to do that. Its a crutch, like many social programs, that keeps people just comfortable enough to keep them from improving while removing any guild felt by those with more.

Re:Like omg and stuff (5, Insightful)

fratermus (608212) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231576)

It is surprising how little they demand from L1 people

A great deal is demanded from L1 people, but it is not obvious how or where.

Here is the scenario: customer buys on price, driving him to the cheapest, thinnest-margin product. The producer still has to provide some kind of support out of that thin margin and knows the callcenter is a cost center not a profit center. The marketing and sales droids have already made wild and unsubstantiated claims about the product.

Solution: staff the callcenter with lowpay quasi-techs and judge them strictly on talk time average and number of calls taken. Provide them with little or no training, no physical examples of the supported product, and no way to talk to the engineers that truly know how it works under the hood.

The unstated real job of the L1 tech is to act as a punching bag absorbing blows for the company. Provide the lowest level of support possible that still avoids either customer revolt or calls escalated to management. Insulate the salesdroids, management, and engineers from any feedback on how their product is functioning in the real world.

Companies sure love driving away paying customers with that

If you can sell the same widget to two customers (one of whom calls your callcenter and the other does not) which is the most profitable in the short term?

especially in the cases where it's painfully hard to get past that L1 moron asking "is your power cord plugged in" to someone who potentially could help.

You might be surprised how many L1 customer morons don't have their power cord plugged in, or plugged into a wall socket that has no power, or it's plugged in but not turned on.

Not knowing English (the tech support guy) for real doesn't help either.

In my experience our Indian brethren speak better English than the American L1 phonejockeys. The current crop of highschool grads I've had the displeasure of talking to are borderline illiterate.

If it's the accent you mean, I'd say between our lowest common denominator schools, tongue piercings, dip in the lower lip, Yo MTV Raps slurring and general apathy it's pretty hard to understand Little Johnny America.

Re:Like omg and stuff (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231653)

1. Follow standards, that way you don't need unique proprietary support

2. Actually bug-test your product. Feature testing is not enough

3. Supply the user with a competent manual that is detailed enough to cover most concerns

4. Hire staff who don't write in Engrish.

There are many things you can do besides setting up an L1 shop to support a product.


Re:Like omg and stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231595)

sorry, what does L1, L2, and L3 mean in the above post?

Re:L1, L2, etc. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231652)

The L1, L2, etc. refer to tech support levels.

L1, or Level 1, is the first person that you can talk to when calling in. They are sometimes forced to follow scripts and are only allowed to solve the very basic of problems. They are also usually allowed to be on a particular call for a small amount of time before dumping it over to a higher level or "solving" the problem. The L1 techs are sometimes called "appeasement engineers" because their primary purpose is to provide a live voice and that's about it.

L2 and up are the technicians that are allowed to solve problems. In some situations, only the biggest customers (businesses) will have access to the higher L3 tier of techs.

Due to most call centers focusing on quantity instead of quality of their L1 calls, the more knowledgeable techs usually leave and turnaround is very high.

Digg+! (0, Redundant)

Photon Ghoul (14932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231376)

The link points to a digg article that points to the PC Mag article. Not sure what to say.

Re:Digg+! (1)

LilWolf (847434) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231386)

It's a clever attempt by the Slashdot editors to take out the competition, Digg, with the Slashdot effect ;)

Zonk is hitting the pipe early (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231418)


Wrong link? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231381)

Why am I reading Digg comments?

Oh the link was a link to the story.

Hmmph (3, Interesting)

wingman358 (912560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231387)

The difference in the cultures make in interesting. Akanksha has a computer science degree and holds what is probably a very respectable job in his peer's eyes. Here in the US, the job could be considered elementry. Are the standards for a computer science degree in India equivalent to those of a similar degree here in America?

Re:Hmmph (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231448)

Akanksha has probably not made that good a career move - he is well paid for the moment, but it hardly gives you good experience.

The fact that it is possible to get people like him to do a job like that is a major reason for moving off-shore: not only do you pay people less, but you get better people at the same time.

As for Indian degrees, there is a great similarity to the US in that standards vary a lot. The best are very good but the gap in standards between the best and the worst is very wide.

Re:Hmmph (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231470)

Akanksha is a she. In India, most names ending in an "aah" sound are female names. It's pronounced ah-kaank-shah.

Americans (0, Flamebait)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231477)

It's a sad fact -- Americans hate anyone who either serves the public, or posesses scientific or technical knowledge of any kind. People that work tech support fall into both groups, and so are essentially treated like lepers.

There's also the fact that most American business managers consider their employees and customers to be parasites that are bleeding the company dry, and treat them as such. The fact that employees actually want to be paid for their labour, and that customers expect to actually receive goods and/or services just drives American CEOs up the wall (which is why they lobby for laws that would remove those two issues).

Re:Americans (1)

JDevers (83155) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231587)

That is incredibly generalistic and probably wrong more than correct (the first statement, the second one is a generalization but is probably correct most of the time). The truth is that people have a hard time relating to people's work that they don't understand, this isn't an American thing, this is a human thing. I work in a hospital's lab, this is both a service industry and requires scientific and technical knowledge, according to you I should be treated like a leper. I also live in Arkansas, which isn't that well known for it's learned culture (I live in a college town where things are a bit different, but all of my family lives in "The South") When I first started this job and people asked me what I did, I told them exactly what I do. After a few blank stares (mostly from family), I realized for me to do what I do requires a hell of a lot of education in a fairly specialized area and none of these people had that knowledge. Even so, they never treated me like a leper, they just never asked about my work again. After I made that realization, I started putting what I do into more general terms and explaining what it MEANS to them. Now the same family members ask how work is and if I've seen anything interesting pretty much all the time, several have said that they think I have the most interesting job in the family (it is far from the best paying, so that isn't the reason either...). At most family gatherings I'm asked to relate some interesting anecdote. Most of my wife's friends think the same thing too and she definitely doesn't work in science (she works in a business office).

The point of this whole diatribe is that if I would have continued to tell people EXACTLY what I did in a way that they couldn't understand they would have thought I was snotty or elitist. When I started explaining what I did using more familiar language and terminology they accepted it completely and even became very curious. This is what is different between what I did and most computer tech people. Most CS people I know have a hard time explaining what they do without geek terminology and even more REFUSE to do it, they WANT to feel special. They think their knowledge of the inner workings of Microsoft's monstrosity and IBM/Intel/AMDs amalgam of hardware makes them special somehow and better than most. They don't realize that it simply makes them more knowledgeable than most in that one area. Most of the tech people I've known have also had a hard time relating to people well BEFORE they were actually in the tech industry or had any real education, so to say that these are WHY they aren't well liked isn't really possible.

A final example to drive this whole issue home is the medical doctor. The MD (excluding surgeons for the most part ;) ) is a rare combination of the very well educated and the people oriented. They both have extreme amounts of education and also work in a completely service oriented business, but to do that they have to have extremely good communication skills. Most doctors are very well liked and have a huge group of close friends. Almost to the last one, every doctor I know that ISN'T well liked, doesn't have those communication skills and is a specialist (or a surgeon ;) that doesn't interact with people all that much.

Re:Hmmph (1)

Enna Hesaru Ani (971882) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231493)

By and large, the syllabus in computer science and engineering is similar in India. There are even a few colleges where the standards exceed American standards in terms of the syllabus. However, in most places the teaching methodology is not very effective to equip the student to deal with practical situations. However, things are changing now.

Re:Hmmph (1, Funny)

the_duke_of_hazzard (603473) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231541)

Conversation between me and an Indian developer: "Do you know FTP?" "Yes." "OK, well, ftp the zip file over to the server." "Ah, I'm sorry, I have studied FTP, I have never used it! Can you show me?"

Re:Hmmph (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231583)

Firstly, this entire article is in poor perspective. By the salary quoted it is quite clear that Aakansha isn't a low level tier-1 support techie. Depending on the call centre and the level of expertise required, entry level tech support personnel here in India receive anything between Rs.8000 and Rs.20000 per month.. or ~ between USD 2000 and USD 6000 *per annum*. By that standard, Aakansha is clearly probably a team leader or a manager who has moved up the ladder or something.

A respectable job in the minds of most Indians is usually one that pays you well. Degree holders are a dime-a-dozen here and the job market is therefore very competitive. Consequently, this has made a masters+ degree something of a pre-requisite in the minds of most Indian parents and students.

And it is also worthwhile to note that while there are many excellent educational institutions here, there are also a lot more poor ones.

Lastly, I call bullshit on the figure of USD 7/hour for an entry level tech job in the US. AFAIK, US minimum wage atm varies between 6 and 8 bucks an hour depending on the state. So, these guys must be operating out of a trailer park. Or this must be a call centre based inside Leavenworth :S Whatever it is, this is surely not the norm.

While the article itself is a half-decent read, the poster - Ant - is something of a troll and Zonk is AUI [approving under the influence ..] :S

Service Desk (1)

nsupathy (515587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231389)

Seems like a service desk role than genuine L2 or L3. L2/L3 are still paid good when compared to rest of the industry.

Compartively.. (1)

bod1988 (925911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231393)

They may get paid half what the US employees do. But things over there are much cheaper. They probably think they're rich.

Re:Compartively.. (5, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231489)

A "dollar" is what a dollar buys. It has no fixed value.

In third world economies a "dime" may well be "ten bucks," so long as you stick within the local economy for food, clothing and shelter. Living is actually quite cheap, which is why so many people from the first world choose to vacation/retire to the third. You may well find you can live, and live well, for a year for less than what it would cost you to spend two weeks at Disney/land/world/universe/whatever.

The rub is that things from outside the local economy, imports, are priced at what a "dollar" is worth where they are made, and can thus be beyond the means of someone who would otherwise be considered middle class. Things like a simple radio or portable television may require the investment of an entire community which otherwise lacks nothing needed for sustaining a good life.

One can see the same affect in the first world when comparing rural vs. urban living. I turned down $60k/yr in Manhatten awhile ago, because $60k in Manhatten cannot buy me what I could get working a cruddy retail job upstate.

When comparing disparate economies you cannot think in terms of dollars. You have think in terms of hours per pound of rice/place to sleep. When you do this you may find that lower wages are often greater wealth. Money is not wealth. It is an abstraction. What your money buys you is wealth. The "stuff" itself.


quality of customer "service" (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231397)

She said she received two weeks of training before taking calls from the public.
This explains a a lot.

Re:quality of customer "service" (1)

Steinfiend (700505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231421)

Having spent a certain amount of time in the IT Tech Support field, as a Tech, Supervisor, Trainer and umtimately upper management, I can honestly say 2 weeks is probably a lot these days. I've seen people get thrown on to the phones after only a couple of days, and expected to perform like seasoned veterans. Its a train wreck to say the least.

However, the people to blame aren't the Technicians or even the Call Center companies, its the Compaqs, HPs and Gateways of this world. They are not willing to pay for decent Technicians, they put too much pressure on low call times rather than problem resolution, its no wonder customers aren't happy. These companies have spent a lot of time and energy putting together "automated support tools", and they always seem to include anti-virus and ant-spyware software in an attempt to avoid support calls. That goes totally against the reason someone calls support though. People call support for exactly that, support, someone to hold their hand and be reassuring, which a piece of software just can't give them.

Re:quality of customer "service" (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231626)

I know this type of employee. they are the type who throw() a hissy fit if you dont tell them your runninng outlook express 6.786 and not outlook 6.786 - one is supported and the other is not.

These 'it' employees are 'humourous' if you ring on behalf of a friend. Mind you I can't remember the last time i rang a technical support number.

Re:quality of customer "service" (1)

remembertomorrow (959064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231629)

That's more training than I received when I was employed at a telemarketing firm.

We had 5 hours of training the first day, 2 the next, then we were on the phones after that.

I couldn't stand going to work there after a few days. It was almost like fighting myself to go to work. I ended up quitting after a week. Their turnover rates were ridiculous, but I was surprised at the time to learn that they had 3 full-time training managers.

Two different subjects, really (3, Insightful)

marcello_dl (667940) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231400)

The main subject of the article is tech support, and that's fine (I guess death threats and lusers tend to be all alike all over the world) but examining the difference of income between outsourced and american employees involves taking account of differences in taxation, welfare, lifestyle...

It's a broad subject that in my opinion has little to do with TFA and might be better discussed relating to jobs in general, not tech support in particular.

Re:Two different subjects, really (1)

RWarrior(fobw) (448405) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231478)

Is that why I, with my CS degree, ten years experience on the phones, and enough certified paper to wallpaper a bedroom, can't get an interview in the computer industry at all? Because I need a degree and experience?

Thanks. No.

Low pay (2, Interesting)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231406)

From my understanding, the industries' average pay for a tech support position isn't typically that low. In the area I'm in, you won't be paid less than 8 for customer support and 9 for technical support.

That said, they are still very crappy jobs with many centers having turnover rates that would make fast food places blush.

Eight what? (4, Funny)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231467)

Paid eight what? Grecks? Beers? Shillings? Drachmas? Space Hookers?

It only took me 20 to write this when it could taken me 5, but that's the convenience of having a 1.2 vs an 800.

Re:Eight what? (1)

WedgeTalon (823522) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231520)

Gee, I don't know... what are most people in the US paid in?

Re:Eight what? (1)

!equal (938339) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231606)


The trouble wityh globalism (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231411)

I can't compete with someone who only has to pay thirty bucks a month for rent, and who can feed his family in a nice restaraunt for a dollar.

Environmental laws too strict? Simple, just spew your damned poison in a country that doesn't have those laws.

"Minimum wage? Environment? Health care? BWAHAHA! We're the multinational corporation, we can do anything we damned well please and there's nothing you or anybody else can do about it!"

Re:The trouble wityh globalism (4, Insightful)

Mikey-San (582838) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231552)

I can't compete with someone who only has to pay thirty bucks a month for rent, and who can feed his family in a nice restaraunt for a dollar.

I'm happy for these people, to be honest. I have a privileged fucking head-start on life, just being born in the United States. Add to that the fact that I'm white, and suddenly I have a leg up on a lot of people, even though it shouldn't be that way. I'm glad to hear other people in the world are living well, instead of suffering--and I don't care how that happens, whether it's cheaper than me or not.

I don't get upset when other people are doing better, if they're getting better perks, or if their lives are easier. I left that whiny, woe-is-me bullshit behind when I left high school.

You can compete, if you want to. If you don't, you'll whine that you can't.

This is newsworthy? (4, Insightful)

Green Salad (705185) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231420)

So what about this is newsworthy? The U.S. job is entry-level and staffed with the bottom of the barrel. We're talking people whose last job was pizza delivery. Of course they're not paid much by the U.S. economy's standards.

The Indian with a BSCS degree will get a job that pays well in the economy in which she chooses to live.

1. If the Indian wants more, she should move to the U.S. where the demand for degrees and pay is higher. 2. If the U.S. former pizza driver wants more, a degree and experience is the answer. I've stopped visiting this site as often because of "relevent news" like this.

Re:This is newsworthy? (1)

Steinfiend (700505) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231431)

But you've hit the chicken and the egg right on the head here, if that isn't mixing metaphors too much. She should have experience and a degree if she wants to progress, and I would agree. However, how are you supposed to live and pay for school on $7.00 an hour? How are you supposed to get experience if there is no one out there willing to give you experience and a decent living wage?

Re:This is newsworthy? (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231532)

However, how are you supposed to live and pay for school on $7.00 an hour? How are you supposed to get experience if there is no one out there willing to give you experience and a decent living wage?

Well, every first-world country, not to mention many developing countries, will of course pay the cost of a college education, making sure your living cost and tutorial costs are covered given that you are indeed bright and interested enough to make an effort. Many countries will even pay the associated costs if you want to study abroad (even if it's in the USA, despite the very high cost associated with it).

In other words, it should not be a problem.

Re:This is newsworthy? (1)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231565)

Unless you were trying to make a dig at the US for not being a first-world country (which by any of the common definitions it is), then you're quite wrong.

Re:This is newsworthy? (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231586)

Why am I quite wrong? The US is very much a first-world country - anybody that has the skill and the will can get the training to become a professional instead of a telephone parrot.

But you are not _entitled_ to become more if you are not willing to work for it.

Re:This is newsworthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231623)

I quite agree. All you have to do is give up on private colleges, go into debt up to your waist for public ones (I bet you think they're still cheap? The one I went to had a 33% increase in tuition one fall, and that spring they increased it again. They kept raising the rates well over average inflation after I graduated). Work two jobs to cover the difference on tuition over what the government gives you (sorry stafford, $5200 a year just doesn't cut it anymore). Give up on having a social life (hey, it wasn't like you were getting laid anyway).

And then, at the end of it all, you end up working L1 tech support for $7 an hour, because it's what the company considers "entry level". If you don't starve to death first, then you can apply for a promotion.

Or hey, we could live like the illegal immigrants do, 4 families to a 2 bedroom house. At $7/hr you could live like (sardine) kings!

Re:This is newsworthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231660)

Only if you're from a middle class family that can support you. 4 years at $26k per two semesters, plus living expenses is quite beyond most people in the country. Even grant programs and deferred loans still require ~$600 per month payments to be made while you study.

Reading comprehension? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231592)

  • Many countries will even pay the associated costs if you want to study abroad (even if it's in the USA, despite the very high cost associated with it).

Just re-read the sentence w/o the parenthesis. Wait, I'll even take them out for you. "Many countries will pay your associated costs if you want to study abroad in the USA...".

What are you reading that would have inferred the poster was saying USA was not a 1st world country?

Ummm...isn't this everybody who goes to college? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231540)

  • However, how are you supposed to live and pay for school on $7.00 an hour?

How often do you hear of straight out of high school kids landing $100K jobs while they go to college to learn their real career? I haven't heard much of that happening. It's the norm to be paid almost nothing while in school. Sure there's the elite few where parents pay for a fullride to Ivy league schools but everybody else is in the same boat. You do the following:

Go to community college for cheaper classes (or 2 year degree)

Get student loans

Get better grades (ie, study/work harder/smarter) in order to get scholarships

Take night classes so you get higher paying fulltime work

Live with parents/relatives/roommates/etc to reduce housing costs

Live frugally

  • How are you supposed to get experience if there is no one out there willing to give you experience and a decent living wage?

What do you mean nobody is giving you the experience? The person got a job for $7/hour. Put in your dues for a year or two and parlay that work experience on your resume for a better job. That's how most people in this country do it. The fact that $7/hour isn't enough to live the good life even in Arizona is immaterial. That's the correct amount I'd expect for somebody who answers phone calls and drones on from a script. I wouldn't expect general L1 tech support to pay any more than entry-level Walmart/McDonalds jobs.

Re:This is newsworthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231443)

I have a degree (CS) and experience, and I'm delivering pizzas. I'm saving more every month than I did when I was employed in my field 4 years back. To be honest, I expect to be getting back into programming/IT soon.

Those who are delivering pizzas aren't necessarily the bottom of the barrel - just people who've gotten the short end of the stick in life.

Re:This is newsworthy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231517)

Let's just choose to live in the US. Right, it's that simple!

Script readers (2)

zoomshorts (137587) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231422)

All too often you get some script reader on the other end of the line :

A customer brought a PC in for service. No symptoms were described.
We plugged it it and it flickered video on the test monitor for a few
seconds before it SMOKED.

Tech Support : I need you to turn the PC on and hit the F(whatever) key
and tell me your CMOS settings please.
Me : The PC us burning when power is applied.
Tech Support : I need you to turn the PC on and hit the F(whatever) key
and tell me your CMOS settings please.

Okay Habib, I get it, you are a script reader. I need level 2 support.


Hello, this is Patricia(yeah right) Pat Ri Cia , heavy Indian accent,
Haw can I hep you?

Me : This PC smokes when power is applied, no signs of spillage or anything
that may incicate abuse on the user's part.
Pat Ri Cia : Will you turn on the PC and press F(whatever) while booting to
get to CMOS please.

Habibette , trained to pretend she was an English speaker, reading the
same script. Hewlett Packard was the manufacturer. Needless to say, we
refunded the user's money. We shipped the defective unit back to HP under
the "cap" allowed for defective merchandise. Screw them outsourcing idiots.

The solution to the tech support help desk (3, Funny)

Nanpa (971527) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231429)

Simply befriend a nerd. They are a common species of parasite and can be found in nearly all urban centres. They charge little for their advice or knowhow, and usually can be bartered with using goods such as 'Coca-cola' and 'Chocolate'.

Ofcourse... (4, Informative)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231430)

...comparing salaries in absolute Dollar terms (as the article summary does) makes _no_ sense, really without taking into account the Purchasing Power Parity [] . In short, $1.00 would go significantly further in India than it would in the US.

As a rough of comparison, a loaf of bread which costs $2.50 in the US costs a little less than 25 Indian Rupees ($0.50). US $13000 is a little less than 600k INR [] which by all means is quite a _comfortable_ if not princely salary to get by in India.

Re:Ofcourse... (2, Informative)

qbzzt (11136) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231460)

Purchasing power parity is the correct measurement from the employee's perspective. Total cost of employment (salary, connectivity, taxes, etc.) is the correct measure from the employer's perspective.

If a US tech support worker with two weeks of training costs 1.5 times as much as the India university graduate (I'm assuming that telecommunication costs and taxes are eating part of the salary disparity), expect companies to hire the university graduate in India. It sucks if you're a US pizza delivery person. It's great it you're a university graduate in India. It's also great if you are a customer and you get support from a university graduate instead of somebody with two weeks of training.

Re:Ofcourse... (1)

Shajenko42 (627901) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231503)

It sucks if you're a US pizza delivery person. It's great it you're a university graduate in India. It's also great if you are a customer and you get support from a university graduate instead of somebody with two weeks of training.
It sucks if you're a customer whose job was also offshored, and now you can't even afford the service for which you would be getting support in the first place.

Re:Ofcourse... (2, Interesting)

elzahir (442873) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231476)

Where are you going that bread costs $2.50?

I can get a white loaf for $.85, and pretty much any style fresh from the bakery for $1.75 or less. You can spend that much on bread if you want to, but I dont.

Although maybe that's because I work in tech support :)

Re:Ofcourse... (1)

nfgaida (68606) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231588)

Bread for $2.5 is cheap/on sale. The bread we normally buy is $4. Though our bread is organic, with no high F corn syrup or other chemical addins.

oldschool classics (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231433)

I can't print!

Digg? (-1, Offtopic)

Quixote (154172) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231449)

Is the link to the Digg article a not-so-subtle dig(!) at the Slashdot editors, to show that they don't read the stories themselves?

How times have changed... (1)

Jeian (409916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231451)

Remember the days when you could call tech support and get someone on the line who had some semblance of a clue?

Re:How times have changed... (1)

Duckz (147715) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231496)

Those indias do have a clue, they just don't have the ability to communicate that clue well.

direct link (1)

Mike1024 (184871) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231452)

I'm not sure why this is linked via digg. Here's direct link [] .

On another note, no offense to the people in the article, but do we really call someone a computer support 'pro' after two hours of training and a pizza delivery job?

Re:direct link (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231582)

Well technically, if they are getting paid to do it, they are a pro(fessional).

The meaning of "pro" does not signify any competence in a job/task above the minimum required to get paid to do it.

Remember as well, lvl 1 tech support is little more than learning the words and reading from a script, which as an interesting co-incidence gives a good reason why anime dubbers have such a large pool of VERY VERY bad voice actors to draw on ^_^

Game support teams (3, Interesting)

Simon Donkers (950228) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231463)

Gamasutra [] had an interestng article about support desks for computergames a little while ago. You can read it here [] .
It gives an interesting list of what to do with which emails, when to press delete and when to press reply, what to do if somebody threatens to commit suicide and so on.

Nothing to see here. (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231466)

This is a global economy, right? Shoudln't the lowest paying jobs go to places where that money can bring up the economy? If people (en mass) somewhere in the U.S. want to work for $4.00 in a call center, I have no problem with it. Maybe highschool kids or others who are physically disabled and aren't educated well enough to do other jobs.

The cold fact of the matter is that the standard of living is too high for these jobs to all be filled in the U.S. without americans paying a lot more for software and such.

Re:Nothing to see here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231513)

And what do you do for a living? I'll bet I can find a qualified person elsewhere in the world who can do your job for less too.

Nerds of the world, unite ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231483) everyone can get a good payment of USD 30 an hour, like me...
and those kapitalist bastards can feel what a globalzed (globally united) workforce is.
Would ...... (insert company name here) move to India if they should pay the same to the workers over there ?
The unions must accept the fact and unite across country borders...

Re:Nerds of the world, unite ? (1)

DoorFrame (22108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231512)

You have nothing to lose but your IPchains?

Ask anyone who does tech support.... (1)

calice (570989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231486)

Ask anyone who does Tech Support and they will tell you they are underpaid. I used to work for a tech support sourcing company (Stream), doing level 2 support for @Home, cable modems before it disbanded into tthe seperate cable companies like Comcast, ATT, etc. I had three weeks of training, and got paid $10.50 an hour. It really wasn't bad pay for a kid just out of high school with no formal training. If you had asked me after doing it for 6 months I, and most everyone else working there, would have said we were underpaid. Tech support really can be stressing and frustrating. Tech support people tend to get this attitude of, "These people need me, I should get paid a lot more". But really, 10.50 was great pay for a kid in my situation. I wouldn't do it for 7 an hour, though. And you can live pretty well in india for under 5 bucks an hour.

Re:Ask anyone who does tech support.... (1)

AudioEfex (637163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231507)

Ask anyone who works in ANY support industry, and they'll tell you they are underpaid.

You know those people that dress up as characters at Disney World, standing in 50-60 LB furry costumes in 100-degree heat? They make about $7 an hour too.

Wages in the U.S. are chronically low for a large portion of hourly workers. Tech Support is no different.


Of course techies think they're underpaid (1)

SpiritGod21 (884402) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231518)

That's because most of us are arrogant. I can take any college kid and put them in our user support help desk and they'll know everything they need to know in a few months. 2 weeks isn't enough, but I can turn a layman into a "computer pro" (according to the standards of our customers) in 1-4 months easily. And when we get to talking about salary, you can bet they all think they're underpaid, but they also think that everyone else is overpaid. The sentiment has nothing to do with tech support; pretty much everyone out there thinks that they are underpaid and everyone higher than them is overpaid. Within a year or two of getting a higher paid job, they'd start thinking the same; I only make $50,000 a year to do nothing, and jeeze, look at that guy! He's so overpaid!" It all has to do with expectations; a friend of mine is going from $7.00 an hour for 20 hours a week to $35,000 a year and his cost of living is probably around $600 a month. As soon as he got the offer, the thought was, "Man, only 35 grand a year..." We're "underpaid" in the help desk, but we make more than just about any starting job for a college student in our town. The mentality of underpaid vs overpaid isn't tech support specific, but one held by humanity in general.

Tech support sucks (2, Insightful)

ravee (201020) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231490)

I have seen many people who work in tech support complain about the unearthly working hours. Especially if the call center caters to the US clients, then out of the 30 days a month, one has to work for atleast 20 days in the night shift. The pay is relatively good. But the burn out is higher. The employees are given training to talk like the americans using the american slang especially if the job involves accepting calls. It seems really surreal to see one of these guys talk. And the people stay at one place only for a couple of months and then move on.

So IMHO, irrespective of the pay, a call center job is not exactly a cushy job. One should not measure a job in terms of money alone. Job satisfaction also counts a lot.

$7/h? I'd like that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231494)

I live in a European country whose name shan't be mentioned, and work as, uhm, just about any position imaginable in my company. I am a part-time DBA, I do PHP and .NET (with web standards, believe it or not), I know a thing or two about interface design so I'm redesigning a lot of in-corporation apps, I do tech support, I do software architecture and some project management... And I earn roughly $3.5/h, or about $600/month. That's even a high-paid job, close to 40% above the country average (unofficially, of course; officially, I earn less, but all sorts of tycoons get in the average, and the government likes to throw mud in our faces).

In contrast, my housing expenses (incl. heating, water and electricity) amount to about $350/month in a small, 1-room house. Good luck eating for $8 per day... I can't imagine buying a car in the next 10-15 years, and I can't imagine *ever* buying my own apartment, as 1 m^2 (10.8 square feet) of housing costs about $2000 here and rising. I could buy 3 m^2 yearly if I invested my entire salary, so if I lived off mana, and under a bridge in a cardboard box, I could buy a small aparment in 20 years (and decorate it and buy furniture in 10 years extra).

$7/h? Sounds too good to be true.

Slightly better than delivering pizza???? (3, Informative)

calice (570989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231498)

I went from tech support to delivering pizza. Pizza delivery actually pays pretty well. I averaged $12-15 an hour (with tips and gas factored in), as opposed to 10.50 an hour. Granted, this was when gas was $1-$1.25. It's funny, i remember all of us drivers standing around bitterly complaining about having to pay $1.35 for gas. Damn that was high ;)

Why are L1 jobs payed so little. (1)

Acid-Duck (228035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231504)

For anyone who wants to enter the IT industry, a tech support job is a great start. If the company has it's own technical support group in-house, you get a chance to meet all the big honchoes of the company and you get to learn and understand their vision, even if you're not hired at the position you really wanted (ie: network or system admin). Level1 technical support is commonly used as a stepping-stone so one can create relationships with managers at the company and eventually maybe VIPs, which will help them get their future position. All of this is very obvious to employers, and so they take advantage of it. Although having a small turn-over rate at a company is a very good thing (you get to retain your employees longer, which become more and more familiar with their co-workers, which usually (I did say usually) should lead to a more calmer, better atmosphere at the office) it seems like some companies just don't care. In particular, those companies that are offering in the 7-9$/hr range. I once interviewed for a level1 support job for Microsoft in Toronto and they were actually offering me $2.00/hr less then my current position at a diff company (my current position was customer support, so I already wasn't making much money... For MS I was interviewing for tech support). Although working for Microsoft would of been a great opportunity/adventure, I just could'nt take the scale-back in pay. To me, it seemed like they were targetting young adults (possibly someone who just graduated from community college?) still living with mom and dad which means the young adult wouldn't pay any food or rent.

Re:Why are L1 jobs payed so little. (1)

rs232 (849320) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231622)

"For anyone who wants to enter the IT industry, a tech support job is a great start."

It is a good start but only stay for ten months maximum. If you manage to stay the course you then stand a good chance of getting promoted to 'senior` tech support and don't have to take any more calls. If they won't promote you then move company. In my experience they usually prefer to hire in as they assume that their own staff are useless.

"If the company has it's own technical support group in-house, you get a chance to meet all the big honchoes of the company and you get to learn and understand their vision,"

You have *got* to be kidding. Tech support is considered only one place up on the janitors job. Senior management would never be caught talking to their own support people as they would be found out as to being totally useless. The senior CIO is hired on specifically because he is a non-techie and, talks management-speak and is good at brown-nosing.

"one can create relationships with managers at the company and eventually maybe VIPs,"

Tech people are the last to find out managerial visions usually from reading the tech press. If management do get a vision they hire someone on from a different continent, give the tech support the day off and make a big presentation. That way they get to look good.

"Although having a small turn-over rate at a company is a very good thing"

On the other hand they keep the turnover rate high and move people on before they find out that management is totally useless.

Received two weeks of training before taking calls (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231516)

Of course, she didn't have to spend time speaking so the people talking to her could understand her, or learn her new name was "Susan."

Mod this whole article (1)

LilGuy (150110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231521)

-1 Flamebait. Heh. For all of us who have been and are currently in tech support roles where we're required to talk on the phone. >:|

Pay per Tuttle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231531)

$7.00/hr to be Tuttled mercilessly by clueless lumps like Jerry A. Taylor?

Sorry, but the reason tech support pays so low is simple: because it is typically the blind leading the unseeing.

If during the few events in my life where I have already RTFM, doublechecked my own assumptions, configurations, steps, etc, and would then like to reach out for a little nudge, IF I could have been guaranteed to get a knowledgable soul on the other end, I would have gladly paid the same as any other highly competent professional, let's say 70-100 hr billing rate.

But who among us has ever actually competent expereinced tech support where YOU didn't need to lead the person away from blind alleys ('I don't think my NIC settings are leading to font problems'), fruitless churnung ('I'd rather NOT reformat and re-install my entire operating system to solve a new problem with a printer driver, thank you'), etc?

I was paid 62k USD for tech support (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231534)

I've just finished nine months of tech support.

I was paid 62k USD.

Like a lot of jobs, the range of pay depends on the difficulty of the work you're doing.

Some people get minimum wage, some people get plenty, and people in other countries find that the money they get paid buys a lot more of the local goods and services, so it's not useful in ANY way to directly compare only wages.

Film at 11.

So what does the numbers mean? (0, Redundant)

houghi (78078) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231553)

made the equivalent of $13,000 a year
scraping by on her $7-an-hour salary with no benefits.

These numbers mean nothing when you compare them. How long is each person working? To get the same 1857 hours must be worked.
This is 37 hours per week and 2 weeks holiday.

And for a company not only are they interested in what they pay the people. Other factors are prices of the buildings and any other overhead cost.

Wether the people can get by is of no importance. Welcome to capitalism where prices are dictated by what you can get away with and the cheaper offer will be taken.

/. digg (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231567)

That will teach them or what?
What's next? Slashdot dupes by linking to Digg that links to an older Slashdot story? :)

My experience. (2, Interesting)

Grey Ninja (739021) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231569)

I used to work tech support for Comcast. I am also in an area that Comcast does not have service (Canada). So you could describe me as a person who had an outsourced job for a while.

I live in a smaller city, where there's really a University and not much else. As a result, the call center has hired just about everyone in town who has the slightest bit of computer knowledge at this point in time. The real life blood of the center though is in international students at the University. It's often difficult for them to find jobs, but they have a great deal of technical knowledge (especially the computer science students). As a result, our center was the highest rated center for Comcast for a very long time.

I got paid a little over $10 CAD/hr. I hear that it's gone up to $11.25 since I quit, but that's likely due to the minimum wage going up (it's $6.25). The call center is a complete shit job, and people only stay to earn money (providing tech support for Americans is right up there with jizz mopper), and the center has to pay us enough over minimum wage to be appealing.

But that's my personal experience. I find it rather interesting that according to the article, Americans get paid ~$3 less than us. But of course I had plenty of experiences with the American call centers. Mainly cleaning up messes that they created. So I guess that the call management people I worked for figured that the extra $3 was justified, as the results were better up here? (Seriously, I could rant for hours on the American call centers... the one in lubbock, tx most especially. And believe me, I wasn't the only one who had to clean up MANY messes from that center.)

Re:My experience. (1)

seanvaandering (604658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231631)

But of course I had plenty of experiences with the American call centers. Mainly cleaning up messes that they created. So I guess that the call management people I worked for figured that the extra $3 was justified, as the results were better up here?

I think I know where you work - because I work there as well - perhaps even in the same call center :) One thing you might want to consider though, is you'll never know how many successful first call resolutions American call centers have vs. Canadian ones. Maybe, American call centers take 2x more calls than Canadian outsourced centers take. Comcast has what, 8 million subscribers? I don't believe even management knows where all those American call centers are and the volumes they carry. I can completely understand being jaded in the process, hey - this is the nature of the beast - we deal with the shit - "Welcome to the suck" so to speak, but to troll around and say Canadian outsourcers do a better job than American ones is unjustifiable - you've got nothing to support that.

Not as bad state side, but not great either (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15231575)

$9.00-$9.50/hr doing tech support in Las Vegas and Delaware
Source: ClientLogic LLC

Where are the tips? (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231590)

The rep, who asked that her name not be used, said it was only a bit better than her previous job--delivering pizzas

Maybe sexual harrassment? I remember a guy on a metro bus in Lancaster, PA once telling his friend, and the rest of us, how much he liked delivering pizzas -- particularly the tips. He said $50 was his record for a single tip.

So if you are toying with the idea of entering a life of tech support don't just offhand discount an honest living delivering pizzas.

The solution is simple... (1)

Alkrun (960306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231597)

The American worker moves to Bangalore, forwards their support calls there, and lives out the rest of their days sipping champagne and eating caviar.

And yet, oddly enough... (1)

DreadfulGrape (398188) | more than 8 years ago | (#15231655)

...we don't see any nationwide days of protest [] directed toward the technical support industry.
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