Current & Former Rogers Employees Say They Are Coached To Agressively Upsell

Earlier this week I brought you a story were it came to light that Rogers employees in their call centers were told that they had to make a sale on every call and managers turned a blind eye. Since that report, CBC has been in contact with present and former Rogers call center employees who go into detail about what goes on at the telcos call centers:

An employee who worked at a Rogers call centre in Brampton, Ont., for four years before leaving in 2015 says he and his colleagues were instructed not to mention cancellation fees from other providers when a customer switched to Rogers. CBC has confirmed his employment history, but is not identifying him — or some others in this story — because they fear they will lose their jobs.

“Because these fees were not charged by Rogers itself, we were told to gloss over them as quickly, vaguely and incoherently as possible,” he writes. “Often while the customer was speaking at the same time.”

Another trick, he says, was to secretly reduce certain services — such as the number of television channels a customer received — so he could add new services, such as a home phone line they didn’t necessarily need, but that earned points toward his monthly sales target.

“It was a calculated game of misery,” he says. “How much could you lower their existing services so they wouldn’t immediately notice, while at the same time adding as much in new services as you could?”

He says when he expressed concern over these practices, his manager reminded him that he worked in sales, and said, “It’s not your job to care.”

That sounds pretty bad. But it actually gets much worse than that:

When those customers would ask to speak to a manager, he says agents would just transfer the call to a fellow agent, who would repeat claims that there was nothing they could do to resolve an issue.

“The goal,” he says, “was for the customer to be so frustrated, speaking to someone who couldn’t do anything more than you, that they ended the call.”

Now this is something that I have heard before. I know two former Rogers call center employees who years ago told me that this was a common practice within their call centers. Thus I am not surprised that this is being mentioned in this article. But it still gets worse:

Debbie Sears handled Rogers customer calls from her home in Kingston, N.S., through a third-party company.

“We were constantly being threatened that we would be fired if we did not upsell — add a home line or a cellphone to the account,” she says. “It was a pressure cooker.”

“They expected you to sell on every call. And you were told time and again, ‘Never take no for an answer. Push, push, push!'”

“I have a hard time selling something that’s useless to them [customers],” says Sears. “I told them right from the start, and they said, ‘Oh well, you’ll get used to it.'”

She didn’t. Instead, Sears says she started having panic attacks before starting work, and her blood pressure went “through the roof.”

“My doctor was very worried I’d have a stroke,” she says. “When I got laid off [for not selling], they did me a favour.”

I couldn’t imagine working in an environment like that. But as bad as that sounds, There’s still worse. There are claims that “senior leadership” knew about and encouraged this behavior:

A former Rogers manager also contacted Go Public, admitting he was one of the people who put pressure on workers in the Ottawa call centre.

He says the pressure to upsell was so intense in 2015 that a Rogers memo (provided to Go Public) directed senior leadership to put more than two-thirds of all the call centre workers on a “performance improvement plan” — to encourage them to sell more, or risk getting terminated.

“Every day we’d have a meeting about sales targets,” he says. “A big part of my job was to manage out the low performers. Witch-hunting those people.”

On the other hand, he says, top sellers were protected — even if they behaved unethically.

“Senior leadership would often issue directives to the team managers to protect their top-level performers by turning a blind eye,” he says. “Protect the tops.”

Now you can read into whatever you want when it comes to “senior leadership”, but all of this makes Rogers sound like a horrible place to work. Now Rogers denies all of this and they’ve circled the wagons by sending out talking points to their call center staff since this story first hit the press. But given what I know from people who speak to me on background, as well as my interactions with the company, I suspect that all the claims that are here are more fact than fiction. Which is a problem if you are Rogers. I think that simply denying these accusations won’t get them very far. What they need to do instead is fully and robustly investigate these claims, then come out to the public and say what they found and what they’re going to do about it so that customers don’t feel like the telco is going to rip them off, and what they’re going to do to make sure their employees don’t feel like they’re going to hell every day they’re going to work. Because right now I can say that since these stories have surfaced, the public perception of Rogers, which wasn’t very good, is far worse now. And that’s not a good place to be if you’re Canada’s largest telco.

One Response to “Current & Former Rogers Employees Say They Are Coached To Agressively Upsell”

  1. […] shouldn’t be celebrating Bell’s misfortune as they got caught doing some of the same things that Bell has been accused […]

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