Do you know that call centres and retail industry have the highest turnover rate each year? Like the title, it is a thankless job that hardly anyone appreciates, it is low paying too. You hardly see any kids who will pen down their ambition as a customer service officer in America Express or a sales associate at H&M. More likely, these jobs are filled by students on summer breaks or someone who is in between jobs, looking for a breakthrough. You may place waitressing in a restaurant or a bar as a thankless job, however, you usually will tip a server but you’ll never tip a retail sales associate.

I have been in all 3 jobs. A summer job as an apprentice bartender when I was a student. Sales associate in a jewellery store when I was 22. I was 14 years old when I was a telephone operator in YMCA hotel. I have to say the role I love the most is being in a call centre. Many people have, in fact, surprised that I enjoyed myself so much during my role when I was 14, working on the weekends that 10 years later I would reprise the same role when I wanted a change in industry.

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No doubt call centre and retail positions are really unattractive. You’ll agree after you’ve read below:

– Pay is Peanuts

Call Centre’s pay really really low and instead of a monthly salary, most of them really pay you on an hourly basis. If a call centre doesn’t make as much profit as their competitors, you can bet that the company will outsource its call centre to somewhere cheaper like China or India or the Philippines.

– Probably Foreigner

Either you have been routed to India or you are speaking to a foreigner who is willing to take in a low wage in exchange to come and work in your country. This is the same for retail as well. It’s their chance to pave a better life for themselves.

– Hours are Long

It is gruelling 12 hours and sometimes more. Yes, we are paid hourly and if we work overtime, we are paid as well. But the hours are long and manpower is overstretched. If you don’t do the job, someone will. At the very least, retail have closing hours but call centres usually run 24hours.

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– There’s no rest day

Officially, depending on the country’s employment laws, we are given two rest days. It is a common fact that the two rest days will never be back to back. This means while you are enjoying Saturday and Sunday offs, we are probably only going to get a Monday and a Thursday off. Rest day on a public holiday is almost unheard off and you probably will be asked to work extra shifts.

– No Time for Friends & Family

It’s hard to have a family outing when the rest of your family members are working on a 9 to 5 Monday to Friday job. I don’t know how many family events and gathering I have excused myself out of. I never able to celebrate Valentine’s Day with my boyfriend or Christmas with my family. My remaining friends who still talks to me are those working right beside me.

– Health Issue

It is harmful when you sit at your desk all day, staring at your monitor. Try constant talking on the phone, asking and answering the same questions over and over again. For the first few months as a telephone operator, I had turned up to school speechless, having lost my voice. Standing in heels for 8 hours during my retail days are backbreaking. I suffered a lot of blisters and changed a pair of new heels every two months.

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– You get screamed at… A lot.

Whether it is through the phone or face to face, service staff get screamed at way too many times. If I can collect every penny whenever a stranger insulted me, I definitely will be rich.

– You can’t see the top

One of the major reason for the high turnover rate was climbing ranks and promotion is bleak in retail and call centres. You will be fighting with another 100 of your peers for that same team leader position and afterwards, rage war against another 30 team leaders for that 1 manager position.

With so many negative reasons above, one must wonder why I love working in a call centre. I’ll let you in on it in my next post. Stay tuned!

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17 replies on “Call Centre & Retail – A Thankless Job

  1. Yes you are true Kally. The wages are cheaper in India, Philippines and other such countries but look at the employment they have generated for the people of these countries. The masters get per hour rate in dollars from their Principals sitting in USA etc and pay in local currencies to the Call Centre employees as monthly salary. Mostly these are under graduates or freshers. and Call centres are providing livelihood to many .

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  2. it is such a tiring and monotonous job… i have done it in my early years… people shout at you for no reason.. it is truly thankless and many other negative effects on us… you made me think of those days… on the other hand, it is a part time earning opportunity for freshers.. gives them a way to earn their pocket money and feel happy about it.. it surely is not considered as a long term career goa for most of the people

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  3. I have been working in a call center for 6 years now. Still, there are people who think low of call center workers even if we’re one of the biggest tax contributors in our country. Thanks for this article. It reminds me of how significant my work is. It provides food to our table and whatever we enjoy right now, I owe it to the industry.

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  4. Interesting. Few friends of mine did started up their careers in call center industry but they switched to other fields when they receive better options. All the negativity aside, there is something about this field that still attracts people.

    May be exposure to the world and testing yourself to the limit are one of them.

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  5. Hello Kally, I guess I’m surprised that Call Centre work is something that you’re okay with. You described many different areas and salaries quite an educational piece that you put together. I enjoyed reading it. You have a whole world of experiences to your credit at your young age, you started very young, more power to you. Be blessed in your work, be happy.

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