A certain company, based in the far-right bible-thumping American south claims to be – and attracts clients because it pretends to be – “faith based.”
Meanwhile, the owner-operator of this call center, abuses his employees – who work either internally or remotely (at home) as call center agents – in more ways than can be elucidated here.
Example: The pay ‘program’ recently was revised in two significant ways.
- The base hourly wage – already low – was arbitrarily reduced, and
- Agents were advised that, rather than being paid their base wage through their entire shift, during all of which they are required to be at their desks, with headphones on, ready to take calls, they would only be paid – anything at all – for time they were actually talking to clients.
That could, and often does, mean half of most on-the-clock hours were not generating any income for the worker, the person who was steadily providing a service to the employer, regardless of how many people called in a typical (or any) hour.
There was, understandably, some kick-back – with, probably, at least one or a dozen employees noting it is illegal to not pay the state’s minimum wage for on-the-clock time – whether the employee is working in-house or in their own time-clock-free home.
So, a couple of weeks ago, the policy was changed again, to indicate that non-talking time would be compensated at the minimum wage.
(This company changes policies, rules and workers’ schedules more often than many people change socks — often without officially advising all employees either by email or via USPS mail.)
People calling in are responding to appeals from one of the many major television- and radio-oriented ministries in the US, a significant number of which pay this company to field these calls.
The calls are of two types: Depending on the ministry, the majority of callers could be ordering something the ministry is selling or offering ‘free’ – often something of no particular value, usually costing the ministry next to nothing. Other callers – more responding to some ministries than others – have ‘prayer requests’.
The caller asks for this, that or the other, and sometimes all three – and the requests to ‘father god’ can range from a cure for an illness, to see a wayward child return home, a win on the numbers or, occasionally, help to deal with a sex-related issue. Whatever. And whatever the request, the call center agent is required to comply, with an instant, out-loud prayer.
Sometimes, contrary to company guidelines, the mostly-female agents downplay or ignore the sex-oriented prayer requests – but that doesn’t prevent them hearing a usually-male caller masturbating as she’s praying.
Nor does the agent’s best attitude, kindest tone of voice and striving to serve the ministry well ward off the ‘crazies’ the people who, when asked for the first three digits of their last name – so the agent can check if they’re already in the system as a result of one or more prior calls – provide part of their first name, or seem baffled by the request.
When asked for a phone number – if that information isn’t already in the system – many don’t seem to know their own area code.
Some get downright belligerent when asked for information intended, in the only way possible, to help the agent fulfill the caller’s request for whatever they’re calling about.
Some callers, when necessary information is requested, get angry, and even curse at the agents.(There is no allowance in this company’s formally unwritten policies for agents – that occasionally are made clearly understood in emails and verbal communications – allowing the agent to simply hang up on abusive callers.)
The company’s failure to anticipate this issue, and its failure to deal with it (by authorizing quick-hang-ups), probably falls into the category of ‘company-authorized abuse – making the unwritten rule that agents ‘will ‘treat all callers, from the start of an interaction through to its successful conclusion’, illegal, in some instances, on a couple of counts.
The call center’s agents are required, after detailing the caller’s information for the ‘free’ or to-be-purchased whatever, to ask, “and how much do you want to donate today?”
Often, the people calling in for a ‘free’ whatever are struggling to keep their heads above water – seeking, through this ministry, from the ‘almighty spirit’ they believe in, for an answer, to how they are supposed to make it through today, never mind tomorrow.
Still, amazingly, many of them give $10, $20, $50 or more than they can ill afford. And the agents are required to ask for even more.
A long overdue expose’ on television ministries (tele-evangelists) was presented recently by John Oliver, formerly a reporter on The Daily Show and now, deservedly, host of his own enterprise, ‘Last Week Tonight‘.
Oliver is, of course, far from the first to point to the shear gall, and the tax code’s enabling, of people who, truth be told, can acquire their ‘minister credentials’ even online for a sum affordable by nearly any shyster out there.
It is truly hard to imagine how individuals claiming to be aiming to help people find ‘a way’, or a better life, can justify holding on to and counting as ‘personal wealth’ the sums some of them do. The Christian Post eight years ago (on Nov. 13, 2007) published a piece by John N. Whitehead detailing the (acknowledged) holdings of some (but hardly all, or even the wealthiest) of the televangelists.
Nobody, where it might matter, is paying attention: In the everyday media and congress. The everyday media ignores the issue. Congress, which affects who gets taxed and how much — see our upcoming piece on that particular issue — seems to assume the Americans’ Right To Religious Freedom gives a free pass to people who, by any definition, stray way away from the intent or teachings of any commonly-practiced religion and encourage, and lure people into believing they’ll benefit spiritually and possible otherwise by, providing contributions to the ministry.
Meanwhile, you have the likes of Creflo Dollar, whose ‘church’ made — ‘took, in not ‘made’ — more than $69 million in 2006 and provided a couple of Rolls Royce, that in his own words, that“Just because it (my life) is excessive doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong.”
As a recent country music song was entitled, “Wrong.”
Then there’s Joyce Meyers, another client of the company being described in this article. She told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a while back that she is “living now in my reward.” This one-time bookkeeper,a self-proclaimed victim of abuse as a child, has overcome that trauma to become the head and guiding force of the world’s largest television ministries. She, like Creflow Dollar, is said to have retained well more than $20 million.
A web site called Gospel Assembly Free says her “life of the Word organization expects to take in $90 million this year.” And that was last year. Her personal personal wealth has been reported elsewhere as being in excess of $26 million.
But she does do some ‘good works’ — helping some sufferers of this or than (including hunger, AIDS and whatever else) in Africa . . . until she, the aid, and the cameras move on.
(One of the things I truly don’t get about evangelicals and their ‘missions’ is their need to venture off into ‘far corners’ of the world, while so many people suffer in American slums and assorted other types of underprivileged environments. And millions of others, including many poor newcomers to this country, are struggling with seemingly insurmountable problems. The sums those do-gooders ‘waste’ on airfare and their own survival, during their ‘feel good’ missions, could be far better spend at home — in the good ‘ol US of A.)
But I digress.
I passionately oppose people who claim to ‘have’ religion, be ‘born again’ (what ever that is suppose to mean), and those who make attempts — particularly in emphatic ways, as employers, for example — to force their ‘faith’ on people they hire to perform a service, particularly for a service for which they are being handsomely compensated by assorted ministries.
The morbidly-obese owner of the company being reported on employs his wife (who does virtually nothing, as the entity’s HR person), his father, who primary role is handing out paychecks every two weeks and overseeing a ‘store’ — offering a lot of overstocks from assorted ministries and other ‘stuff’ that, because they hate the company paying them for doing an underpaid, thankless job, most employees ignore. And his step mother mans (or womans) the reception desk.
Creswell Dollar and some other clients of this company might be appalled by this report. I am confident Joyce Meyer will be — and she will she it.
Somebody’s about to get their ass sued — and lose — in several ways.
Dead Man Walking, CT.