Dear Margo: When Something Is Above Your Pay Grade

Is it OK to lie by omission for the sake of my career? Margo Howard’s advice

When Something Is Above Your Pay Grade

Dear Margo: I have an ethical dilemma. I work in an industry where many people telecommute, which lends itself to subcontracting work to offshore vendors (e.g., India). Sending work offshore is a very controversial and polarizing issue in the industry. Although there’s a significant cost savings, it’s not unusual for our clients to insist on contracts that prohibit offshoring. My company utilizes offshore labor but keeps it very low profile. I don’t have particular issues with it and actually enjoy getting to know some of my counterparts in other countries. The company, however, calls itself “American based” (true of the corporate headquarters), and while we do not send work offshore when contracts prohibit it, I’ve realized lately that we do come just short of being untruthful about our use of the practice. For example, while interviewing a job candidate, I asked my routine question, “Why are you considering working for us?” and the response was, “I want to work for a company that does not send work overseas, and the recruiter assured me your company does not.”

I am fairly low in the corporate hierarchy and have no input on these decisions. There’s no question that it would cost me my job if I were to tell clients or candidates that we do, in fact, send work offshore. Losing my job would be a financial disaster, and I’m at an age where finding new, equivalent employment would be next to impossible. However, I am increasingly uncomfortable about being party to this lie of omission. Do you think there’s any hope of keeping both my job and a clear conscience? –Increasingly Uncomfortable

Dear Inc: I am sympathetic, but for my own reasons. When speaking to people in other countries, although they speak English, it is not, shall we say, always English-English, and it’s often difficult to understand. I agree that you should not tell a candidate the information that your company apparently wishes to keep quiet. I would, however, go to a superior and say that, in addition to feeling as though you are not being truthful with potential employees, you have realized that because your America-only policy is considered a plus, it would be ruinous if word got out that this was untrue — especially because so many people tell you it is one reason they do business with your company. Whether or not you can make yourself heard, you will have made the effort, which should salve your conscience. You will have tried. –Margo, conscientiously

Two Friends, Same Shrink

Dear Margo: I have a weird issue. I have a great girlfriend, but she’s had emotional problems in the past, for which she is getting therapy. While I’m not the cause of these past issues, I am sure she talks about me to her therapist. That’s not the problem. My cousin, who’s my best friend, has also started seeing a therapist. Recently, while giving one of them a ride to the doctor, I discovered that they are seeing the same therapist, and this has me very nervous.

Obviously, I’ve said things in confidence to each of them about the other, and I’m worried they might find out by the therapist’s putting two and two together. Should I go see their shrink and discuss my concerns, or am I overreacting? I can’t tell this to anyone else because I don’t want to reveal that my best friend and my girlfriend are seeing a therapist. –Anxious

Dear Anx: You can relax. Therapists are bound by rules of confidentiality not to say anything to anyone. In addition, they are trained to be objective. Shrinks often, unavoidably, see patients who know each other and encounter acquaintances of patients, especially if they practice in small communities or for an organization with a limited cohort (like the Navy or a university). As for your thought of going to the therapist about your concerns, bag that idea. I doubt s/he would even have that discussion. And P.S. from an old analysand: These days, seeing a therapist has no stigma whatsoever and may even be borderline chic. –Margo, calmingly

***

Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com. Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.

COPYRIGHT 2010 MARGO HOWARD
DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

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42 comments so far.

  1. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    I think Margo’s advice is perfectly reasonable.  Its not like you are being asked to refrain from mentioning your company’s products contain arsenic. Voice your reservations and move on.   

    Admittedly, my only contact with offshore workers involves the company which made my computer.  Its service people are mostly in India as far as I can tell whenever I need some assistance.  And while their *English* is not American English (more like British English) and I sometimes have to ask them to repeat themselves, they do so very happily without a hint of impatience.  The few times I get an *American* service person using the same company, I have sensed their impatience, or am put on hold, or sent to 3 or 4 different departments, and find that they mostly do not know what they are talking about.  So, I much prefer the Indian customer service representatives.  My computer is pretty reliable so I haven’t had the need to contact them since the big recession.  Perhaps the American workers have changed their attitude.  That said, I am very happy with the service overall and will buy the product again when the time comes. 

    I am sure I am in the minority, but I think that American companies are in business to maxmize profit for their shareholders.  If they can buy a cheaper widget overseas then they should. Especially if the widget produced overseas is better than the one produced in America..which in my limited experience with computer service representatives is the case.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      I am sure the hundreds of thousands of Americans who once made “widgets” like steel, furniture, shoes, toys and clothing and are now unemployed or under-employed would completely disagree with you about the benefits of shipping jobs overseas.  But why be concerned with human workers when maximizing profits is so much more important than people in this “Christian” nation? Also disagreeing would be parents of children who played with cadmium-laced Chinese toys and have been harmed by them because there are no manufacturng regulations against using carcinogens in toys made in China. But why worry about the health, safety and welfare of someone else’s children?

      • avatar brent finley says:

        I am sorry Anais, but I do not think your point is all that well thought out.  If the widgets made by “all americans” are 25% more expensive than global widgets, then if I buy the “all american” widgets, I will have less money to spend on other products and services.
        If I have less money to spend on other products and services, then those industries will need fewer employees, and they will have the unemployed americans.  All you have done is shift the unemployed from one industry to another.
        They way to maximize employment and wages is for countries to focus on those products and services for which they have a comparative advantage.  That maximizes the productivity of each country.  Increased productivity is the only way to lift “real wages”.  If wages are raised and productivity is not increased, then inflation eats away at the wage gains.

      • avatar Anais P says:

        Well, please do share your “well-thought-out” argument personally with all those unemployed shoemakers in New England, garment workers in New York and steelworkers across the nation. I am sure it will be very comforting to them to know their fellow Americans would rather buy cheap, dangerous products made in foreign countries as opposed to good-quality, well-made products made by Americans. It is really too bad these workers now do not have inflation-eaten wages but NO wages. But that’s business. Pretty soon America will make — nothing, as it will have outsourced all its industries. Come to think of it, what DOES America make anymore? Even the software industry is not doing well. But why should that matter? Profits are up!!

      • avatar Katharine Gray says:

        But what about the starving children in India living off of the flies on their eyes?  Do you have no compassion for them?  If an American company pays a worker in India $10 a day and an Indian company pays a worker $1 a day, isn’t it a good thing for the Indian worker and his/her starving family with flies on their eyes to work for the evil American company?

        I’m not in favor of buying inferor widgets from overseas.  But if the widget is better and cheaper, then go for it.  In my experience, the computer service people in India are better than their counterparts in Texas.

        I grew up in a family that would never by a foreign car.  It was considered completely disloyal and we all knew that *made in Japan* meant trash.  So, when I could finally afford to buy my first nice car brand spanking new in 1983 I bought a GM product and felt so proud and happy as it was a beautiful American made thing.  And a complete and total lemon.  With a *computer* electronics system that drained the battery if it sat for more than 24 hours without being started.   Ten or twenty times in service did not solve the problem.   

        In 1986, after giving up on getting the lemon ever to be reliable, I bought a Japanese car.  That car ran for 24 years and may still be running for all I know.   We drove it across country in 2008 with nearly 300K miles on it.   No major problems.  Replaced the battery a couple of times over that time, new tires, some brake issues after 10 or 15 years.  My current Japanese car is sixteen years old and running like new.

        The problem is that if American companies do not make a profit they go out of business and then all of their employees lose their jobs.  It is true some industries pay disproportionate bonuses to executives.  I hear the Obama Motors (formerly known as GM) executives got huge bonuses this year, financed by me and you (if you are one of the 49% of Americans in this country who pay income taxes).

        It really cracks me up to hear people say *I cannot understand their English…it really is annoying*.   You are the same people who disdain the *Rednecks* who don’t bother to learn Spanish so they can communicate with the influx of *undocumented* people who come from Mexico .  If you don’t understand your *inferiors* , ask them to speak more slowly by saying *I’m so sorry, I do not understand what you are saying..can you repeat it…or spell it?*.  Its really very simple unless you are too full of your own wonderfulness to give the *servants* a break. 

    • avatar Annalyn Stormraven says:

      I have to wonder if it’s my hearing or what, but I have a hard time with overseas help.  More often then not I cannot understand what they are saying or I miss everyone other word.  Even when I was in college, I had to drop 2 classes because I could not understand the professor’s English — one was Indian and one was Chinese.  Even here in America, living in the South, I’ve had to walk away from conversations because I could not understand the deep South dialect.  It’s not all accents, but it seems I have a much lower threshold for understanding folks with accents than others do and I find this problematic with overseas help.
       

      • avatar Margo Howard says:

        Annalyn — It is not your hearing.

      • avatar Karleen S says:

        It’s not your hearing.  Just recently, I had an issue come up with my Quicken program.  ALL of their technical support is overseas.  At first I called, but after I apologized to the rep and asked to be transferred to someone else because I couldn’t understand him, I was sent to a woman I still couldn’t understand.  I hung up and decided to try the email method.  Same result.  Whether I’m speaking to someone or writing, while they technically “speak” English, they cannot communicate in it.  They cannot participate in dialogue exchange, understand idiomatic terms (and you’d be surprised how much there is in American English), or coherently formulate a response.
        My issue has been going on for over two weeks and they haven’t done a single thing except ask the same questions and request log files.  When I write back that they already have been given the information and please forward my issue to someone who understands, the whole thing repeats itself.  Twice now they haven’t responded at all, and then sent a random email that said, “You issue has been resolved.  Try it again.”  Nothing was done!
        I think it’s less about cheap labor than it is to throw up a brick wall so they don’t have to deal with problem.  After selling a customer with an American-based sales force, do away with any problems they have with an overseas “customer service” force.  It has also happened with my computer and my credit card.  I should also add that when I was ordering my computer from a homegrown sales force I specifically asked where customer service was based if I should need it.  He said they have offices all over and it depends on the time of day.  So far, no matter the time of day, it’s India.  So you can’t even be frank and ask directly and expect an honest response.  They may still get that sale, but I can guarantee that repeat business is out of the question.

      • avatar Lila says:

        This was also my experience in several South Asian countries, including India.  English words were coming out of my mouth, English words were coming out of their mouths, but never the twain could meet.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Outsourcing to those who speak English as a second language may have something to do with obfuscation and obstruction when a customer needs technical assistance…but it is mostly about acceptable wages (such a thing as minimum wage doesn’t exist in many places) in countries like India, Pakistan, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines being what we would consider slave wages here, plus benefits (health insurance, life insurance, vacations, disability) being either incidental, or virtually nonexistent. They also don’t have any sort of Fair Labor, harassment, Equal Rights or Human Rights laws such as we do. This all makes international outsourcing a highly profitable enterprise.
         
        I am guessing that I may be unusual (and I am going to go all out on my Caps Lock key if someone says that I am bragging. Let’s not go all kindergarten here today, hmmm?), but I really do not have the comprehension issues so many posting today are complaining about. My last supervisor was Taiwanese. I thought she spoke excellent English and had no trouble understanding her…but my charming fellow employees claimed that she was impossible to follow, and made fun of her behind her back, Her written English was a small issue, but she was very intelligent, and it was not difficult to help her out with her syntax (the biggest problem with European language for those whose first language is Korean, Chinese, Japanese or some form of Southeast Asian). No offense meant at all, to anyone, but I have taken several languages, and the key to understanding actually is listening well. The same thing absolutely applies to comprehending someone who speaks English as a second language. As a rule, Americans are rather poor listeners (and the only dialectal form of American English that I’ve ever heard that was totally incomprehensible to me is Gullah…and that is almost a different language entirely). So, it isn’t a problem with hearing, actually, but with listening.
         
        Now, before you all go out and get a rope, remember that in my first post I did reveal that I am no supporter of international outsourcing. I have had issues of common courtesy with more American charm school drop-outs than those abroad, and I have spent a lot of time on the phone with tech support, both as a private consumer and through my employer. The most noxious support people I ever had the misfortune to deal with had English (as in originating specifically from England) accents indicating a higher education, and refined, aristocratic breeding. They were very easy to understand…most entitled, egocentric boors are, after all.
         
        As for the Quicken program, my sympathies Karleen, because their American technical support, before they outsourced, was made up of the most socially challenged, moronic, bumbling group of defectives I have ever encountered in looking for help with a computer issue. My husband is an IT administrator, and he used to beg the great gods of technology (and he is an atheist) for a minor miracle…or, alternatively, instant death…rather than call the shambling, rude, I’ll-just-put-you-on-hold for…three hours…jerks at Quicken. It isn’t just the India-based help…it’s Quicken’s uncanny ability to find people with borderline personality disorder to fill their technical support team seats. Good luck,

      • avatar Karleen S says:

        Don’t worry, I’m not going to smack you.  ;)  It may sound strange, but depending on the type of accent it is I have more or less difficulty understand.  Asian ones I can get, subcontinental Indian I can’t.
         
        I guess this is something we’ve done to ourselves.  We demand cheap products, and manpower is one of the most expensive features of any product.  By and large, people don’t have many problems with their purchases that they encounter the off-shore call centers.  But heaven help you if you do.

      • avatar Tonto says:

        Briana – why must you always write a book when you respond?

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Tonto: If the length of my posts is a challenge to your concentration…don’t read them. There is no “page limit” or space limit on this site, nor any requirement that you read every post.
         
        It is interesting to note the vexatious nature of some of the more unfamiliar commentators. They seem to exist merely to whine, complain, and attempt to shred threads…without any substantive input.
         
        Was that brief enough? Yes, Tonto, I’m talking to you.
         
        Not the “Lone Ranger”…

      • avatar Tonto says:

        It would have been short enough, if you had left it at that, which I knew you would not.  I actually think you are a very eloquent writter, but it seems to me that you say a lot more about yourself than the topic at hand.  I will not respond to any more posts of yours, since it seems to aggravate you so.  I have been reading posts on WOW for quite some time, even though I am a “new” member. So, I will continue reading your posts because your rants when people disagree with you are amusing, and I will just hit the highlights instead of the whole thing.  Reply if you must, but I am finished with the subject.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Dearest Community Manager: Consider this before removing my reply to Tonto, but leaving his/her post behind with a warning about policies and procedures for a “new member”…why are such irrelevant and off-topic posts allowed? And is this kind of sniping, of which I have certainly not been the only target, what we are to expect now of WoW?
         
        I’m seeing a lot of this lately…and please do not tell me to address this through the Proper Channels (that would be “Contact Us”) because nothing will be resolved that way. My comments were removed when I was a new member for responding to personal attacks, or becoming too invested in a topic. But at least they were relevant and on topic. This drivel is ridiculous, and beneath the stated purpose and maturity level of this website.

      • avatar Lilibet says:

        I like Briana’s “books”, Tonto. Yes, sometimes her posts are a lot to wade through, but she is an excellent writer and her opinions are well thought-out and expressed in an interesting way. I always enjoy reading her posts.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        It’s sort of a peculiarity, but I also pick up languages very easily, even those with issues such as dipthongs (such as the Vietnamese “ng”) that use a great deal of inflection to indicate things like tense or possessives or gender, etc..  No one else in my family does this, so it’s considered a bit of weirdness. I am not saying that I am special (a disclaimer to prevent further cheesy unwanted commentary), I’ve been able to do this since I was a very small child.
         
        I also can decipher song lyrics very quickly, even when they’re supposedly incomprehensible. I don’t know why, or how. It’s interesting, I suppose, but I don’t have an explanation.

      • avatar Lilibet says:

        Once when I was in my 30′s eons ago, I had my hearing tested because I couldn’t understand a couple of teenaged boys I knew. My hearing was fine. They were mumbling and not enunciating. Many people in customer service with a standard American accent speak so fast I can’t understand them at all, and I constantly have to ask them to repeat themselves. The problem is compounded when they have an accent.
        One of the worst experiences I had was with a customer service rep for a computer company who was from the very deep South. I finally had to hang up. I kept calling until I found a rep in South Dakota! When it comes to computer or medical help, I really want to be able to understand the person I’m speaking to.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      I think that LW1 needs to go to the medicine cabinet and take a large spoonful of reality.
       
      First of all, very few—if any products are completely “made” in one country or another. Just because something is “Made In The U.S.A.” doesn’t mean that the component parts, or raw materials don’t come from another country. What about supplies and other business tools that allow companies to conduct operations? Does that count? Oil from other countries that keep the lights on? And what if your country hires people who are immigrants who moved here, but aren’t necessarily citizens? In a way, I understand and agree with what the LW is trying to do with regard to being honest and upfront with clients and prospective employees. But I also think that the words “Made In The U.S.A” are not an automatic guarantee of quality or sound business practices in this day and age.
       
      Regarding LW2—I’d only worry if you’re an abusive person, or doing something that puts one or both people at risk. Otherwise, the fact that the therapist is seeing both people may give them greater insight into how to help one, or both of them more thoroughly.
       
       
       

    • avatar R.J.B. Reed says:

      The real problem with this attitude is that it results in a lot of unemployed Americans with the only benefit that those of us who are employed can buy our stuff a bit cheaper.  This is because cost of living is less in many countries.  Also, the laws regarding labor practices, safety, etc. are also fairly inhumane to what we have here.  For instance, a shoe company can pay children 50 cents an hour to work 12 hour days and build shoes in a warehouse where their safety isn’t a consideration.  Or they can pay American workers $8 or more per hour and spend the money that OSHA will require.  As you said, if all the business cares about is profit, that’s what they’re going to do.  So this is why people try to vote with the dollars by not using companies who engage in these practices.  However, this is a problem if the company hides that information.  After all, if you’re at the store and you see one pair of shoes for $30 and another for $50, you’ll probably buy the $30 unless there is a compelling reason not to.

      • avatar Lunita says:

        I agree with you. I think another issue aside companies hiding the information is that in some industries (like apparel), it is virtually impossible to find any diversity or choice in the items you wish to purchase unless you ignore where the items are being made. Most of the clothes I see (unless we’re talking American Apparel), for example, are made in countries where I’m sure there are human rights violations, including child labor. I once went online and looked at clothes made by union labor in the US, and all they had were cotton t-shirts in different colors.  Sorry, but I can’t go to work wearing American Apparel bodysuits and cotton t shirts all the time.

        Since then I’ve been trying to cut down on my purchases of new clothing and do more second hand shopping.  

      • avatar Lunita says:

        Sorry for the typo; that should be, “aside from”

  2. avatar Harriet Shoebridge says:

    I like Margo’s advice, that is, state your case, do not push, and keep a clear conscience.  I also agree with Katherine Gray in that overseas on phone help is always pleasant as opposed to home grown, this, coming from Canada.  And, yes, most people accept that the bottom line looks to overseas employees for sustained solvency.

    But.  Another story, somewhat other than the bottomline directive.  While attending college I worked for a large, global box store that, at the time, was selling clothing and such for tweenies under the brand name of certain high profile American television/film twins … (pause) … A look at the label, in fine print, read these items to be manufactured in Bangladesh … over priced, of low quality fabric, and generally ‘blown’ together … and the tweenies, as they say, ‘ate it up’.  So, I had ‘problems’ selling the merchandise because, in my estimation, I was selling clothing made by children for children.  Not nice.  And, at times, short on sleep and long on stress, I would voice this observation in front of customers. 

    So.  What to do?  Where I live, ’golden arches’ bring in people from Mexico because the owners can’t find locals to work the grills and man the counters and sweep the floors and whatever else comes with the grind of a fast food. 

    But.  Again.  I like Margo’s advice.  Voice concerns.  With care.  Listening to one’s conscience.  If nothing else, go forward with the knowledge that on this planet, nothing is sure but change. 

  3. avatar vicki ebeling says:

    oh boy, i, more often than not, agree with both margo, and katharine gray!, but sorry, not in this case. 
    if you go to your supervisor with your concerns that this information makes you uncomfortable and may be leaked somehow, one may assume that you would be the one to reveal it, thus creating a problem for yourself, or at the very least, a question in the minds of heirarchy. 
    since your greater concern is over losing the job, i would keep this particular issue to myself.  when, or if, you are in a position that would not be compromised by expressing your discomfort, then by all means say something.  until then, i would not. 
    if the potential employee does their due diligence, then they will find out for themselves, and if they are employed when they find out, they then have the choice to make a decision for themselves.
    just my opinion.

    • avatar Margy says:

      Me too! I agree with Margo’s advice but also thought like you did; what if the information was leaked? Higher ups (the supervisor will probably let the manager or someone else know about “Increasingly Uncomfortable”s concerns) will assume IU is the rat and decide there are consequences. It’s a hard world out there. Better not rock the boat and lose the paycheck.

      • avatar Dawn Murphy says:

        I completely agree!  Do not go to your supervisor.  I work for a charity that is less than honest about how it spends the donor dollar.  I’ve gone to the manager of my department; as a manager I accept donations when I am out and speaking.  I have to swallow hard when someone hands me their donation and they beleive it is going to be used in a different way than it is.  I can’t get too specific.  There is no malfeasance, but we do not honor the donors intent.  Going to my supervisor resulted in a negative performance review, even though my team has exceeded all our goals.  This issue keeps me up at night.  I can’t wait to get out of here, but can’t afford to lose my job and can’t find another. 

  4. avatar Barbara says:

    LW#1 sounds pretty inexperienced to me.  I am surprised that she is allowed to interview candidates.  The appropriate response to the interviewee is to say that you are proud that your corporate offices are indeed in the US but, like many large corporations, you have global operations.  Then return to questions about the candidate’s qualifications for the role.
    LW#2 – I agree with Margo’s advice, however I have to wonder what on earth you have been telling your cousin and your girlfriend.  Must be a doozie if you are that concerned that they will connect, put two and two together and join forces against you.  I think I’d be more concerned that they would share confidences at a family gathering.  I can just imagine them meeting, chatting over cocktails and then turning to stare at you with accusing eyes…..  awkward!!!

  5. avatar amw says:

    Outsourcing overseas to save a buck…ah, you just have to love America. Greed…its an evil thing.

    Having said that, LW1 should have their employer’s best interests at heart. If they do have global operations, I’m sure a bit of research from a potential client would reveal that. I doubt anyone fully agrees with decisions made within a corporate structure. It’s isn’t your place to point that out. Either bite your tongue or find employment elsewhere. IMO, the only time you should be expressing your opinion, especially if you’re as low on the totem pole as the LW indicated, is if you are asked OR if policy or procedure is harmful or illegal. I’m not trying to seem insensitive as I can certainly understand where the LW is coming from, but that’s just how it is.

    LW2 seems a bit presumptuous to me. While one would assume his name could be mentioned from time to time in therapy, if he is not the cause of his girlfriend’s emotional issues, it’s likely she’s sorting out her past. Obviously what was said to his cousin and/or girlfriend in confidence has left him with a guilty conscience if he’s ready to run to the therapist before something he said “gets out.” Shame on you!

  6. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#1: I personally don’t have a problem understanding most people who speak English as a second language. Furthermore, since I only speak a reasonable amount of Spanish (and can read a great deal more), and read and speak Latin with a limited degree of skill, I am not certain I should criticize anyone who learns our very nearly impossible, highly idiomatic, and very nationally and regionally influenced mother-tongue as a second language. Particularly those from Asia and the Middle East, whose languages are so far removed from mine.
     
    However, I have had at least one culture clash due to international outsourcing. We had been receiving calls for a man with the same first name (James) as my husband, but an entirely dissimilar second name who had been using the phone number we’ve had for 14 years. I had finally convinced all but one collection agency that we were not harboring this apparently flagrant debtor.
     
    Then, one day, a man who was either from Western India or Pakistan called from this agency. They had outsourced. His manner was abrupt and confrontational. I have worked as a bill collector, and I am fully aware of the laws. I explained to him that we had told his company, and various agents, at least a dozen times, that we had a “James” in the house, but that the last name, addresses, and other information did not match, nor did we even have an account with American Express. He insisted I give all of our information. I directed him, as per usual, to Privacy Law, and his reverse directory, and told him that I was under no obligation to reveal anything personal, and that he was under obligation to remove my phone number from his system, because it wasn’t even listed under the debtor’s name, and never had been.
     
    This was his reply: “Woman! You will listen! You will stop lying! You will not tell me what to do! Woman, Behave!“.
     
    I wonder if his head is still ringing. I have heard everything in my time (as I said, I was a bill collector myself), therefore I was not taken aback. I told him that he was speaking to an American woman, and that perhaps he was able to engage in his misogyny at home, but that I would cut short his career, and quickly, if anyone from his business ever called my home again regarding James so-and-so…because you do not address females as “woman” as if the word had the same meaning as “bitch”. There was a very vast silence, and then a dial tone. I later called the collection agency and informed them that their international outsourcing efforts were doomed to failure. O, I never received another call for the mysterious James.
     
    As for international outsourcing being an excellent idea because it is convenient to some, or because the employees are more courteous or efficient…please understand that some of those very technically savvy and polite people were educated here, and know exactly what Americans crave. Americans know this too…and Americans get pretty tired of puckering up to buss the backsides of other Americans. And there is the issue of the millions of jobs that have been sent overseas. This has nothing to do with providing a more pleasurable experience…it really does have to do with financial savings for the company. Increasing the profit for shareholders is, I am sure, a powerful consideration. And there are certain products that other countries simply seem to do better…mostly. My husband and I both drive foreign cars, a Kia (Korean) for me, and a Honda (Japanese) for him (this after spectacular debacles with a Dodge Neon…the car with enough repairs in its nine-year existence so as to cause an outlay of cash larger than the original sticker price…and a Ford Taurus with a motor that simply rusted into oblivion after only three years of driving and perfect maintenance) that have served us faithfully and well beyond our expectations (yes, I know about the Toyota/Lexus horror-show. No excuses there).
     
    But consider this: if Americans are suffering severe unemployment due to international outsourcing…who is going to purchase those shares in the companies (which aren’t worth nearly what they once were), or those items requiring service calls to o-so-obsequious techs and customer relations people working for dimes on the dollar in far away places, or those most ingeniously engineered and carefully built foreign cars, and electronics, and toys?
     
    And the idea that the widget is always better when it comes from another country (mostly because it saved the manufacturer…and therefore the consumer…money) is not always true. I find the fact that we are fully supporting the Chinese government utterly loathsome. By doing so, we are condoning their centuries-old practice (and yes, this well pre-dates communism) of systematic dehumanization of the individual by a system of non-interference that is nothing but smoke and mirrors designed to obscure the actualities of life in China. Our manufacturers of toys, clothing, electronics, drugs, formula and all manner of consumer goods play the card of wealthy benefactor…the Chinese citizen is poor, therefore by giving them jobs in American owned companies we elevate their financial status and sense of self-esteem. Nothing could be further than the truth. They are assigned jobs, and work as they are instructed, and take home a small fraction of what their pay is alleged to be…while we get cheap, unregulated product that is frequently hazardous to the health of our most innocent lives. Worse yet, while we have regulatory committees, consumer groups and advocates, and watch-dog groups to keep our citizens safe…the Chinese have no such organizations, and it takes an international outcry for the government to grudgingly acknowledge that, say, a few infants might have sickened, and perhaps one died, from tainted formula in China. If you want to hazard a guess at the truth, multiply whatever number they have admitted to by a factor of one hundred. We are feeding that system, and keeping our own people out of work.
     
    So when you think about that better (cheaper, more polite, perhaps even better crafted) widget…think about all of the ramifications, especially where it originated. In India, and Pakistan, and all through Southeast Asia, there are vanishingly few people to maintain surveillance and controls on child labor. I do mean children under 10, who work 18 hour shifts making widgets for you. Think about American people working full-time, but living in shelters, or crammed into one bedroom apartments because both parents lost their jobs, and homes, and savings to international outsourcing. Think about those children too.
     
    My menopausal hormones must be in full locked-and-loaded mode this morning, but it certainly did feel fine to get that off of my chest. Sometimes people’s sense of entitlement is just too much.

    • avatar AngelaM. says:

      Briana, I’ve felt your pain!  A couple of weeks ago, some home alarm company called to tell me that my name had been drawn for a free alarm system (wait, when did I enter something for this?) and they just needed to know where to install the system.  I asked the American male speaker about fees for monitoring, what all it entailed, etc.  He got frustrated with me and said “Look, little lady, either you want it or you don’t.  It’s a simple question that you can’t answer.”  Then he hung up on me.
       
      I was FURIOUS.  With caller ID, I knew the name of his company and I remember his first name.  A few minutes of Googling later, and I had the email address to the company and the president of the company.  I sent an email detailing my conversation with the jerk and advising them of the fact that I would never, ever use their company if this was the kind of employee they hired.  Misogyny and any type of prejudice would not be tolerated.  Ugh.

  7. avatar Rapunzel says:

    I am absolutely against outsourcing to other countries and would much rather pay more for a Canadian or American made product for many reasons. I want my money going to my country not a country with human rights issues; I do not want to support child labour or substandard working conditions; I want to know that my child is not being poisoned by her toys. I want products that are well made and will last. I would much rather pay more for a product that is well made and lacks the poisonous ingredients we import from China. More jobs in our countries is great for the economy. Not outsourcing to countries with poor human rights records will force those countries to improve the conditions in which their people live.

    Personally, I absolutely hate getting calls or calling for support and the person speaking to me is in India. I have a difficult time understanding what is being said and, unlike the experiences of other posters here, it is almost always a negative experience as I find the workers in India to be extremely rude and aggressive. Even my co-workers who are originally from India hate dealing with Indians becaused they are so aggressive and have no ethics as they are willing to lie and deceive if means they can make a buck.

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      I’m just curious, you seem to be saying that you don’t consider anything made in Canada, like US cars, outsourcing.  I figure that nowadays we live in a global market and everthing is made at least with parts from all over the world but you say you only want them from here but then you choose 2 countries.  I don’t get it.  Either you want only your country or you are willing to out-source.

  8. avatar ann penn says:

    There are two sides to international outsourcing of manufacturing that I have rarely or never seen covered when this issue is discussed:
    1)  Yes my product made in China is cheaper to purchase, but then it does not last.  At that point it heads to a landfill and I must spend time, fuel, and money to replace it.   This is not an advantage to me; I would rather have had it cost a small percentage more and not be bothered by having to replace it so soon and add to our landfills.
    2) Because so much is being manufactured out of the US, the country is losing an important base of people who know how to design and manufacture products and solve problems regarding such activities.  One big factor in the US being on the winning side in WWII was the ability to switch manufacturing on a massive scale to produce the goods necessary for waging war.  Today that is not a option.  Also, with so much of the military and other products relying on electronics and parts that we do not have the ability to manufacture here (without building new factories, etc.) there may very well be a real threat to our national security.

  9. avatar susan says:

    LW#1, I feel her pain.  Outsourcing is a practice that needs to be stopped.  I don’t care if it saves money for some.  I work in the health care industry (at one time in a cancer center).  Many hours were spent on the phone with insurance company call centers in order to get crucial treatment authorized for a patient.  The call for an “auth” always starts with the call center, they are located in either India or the Phillipines.  We have to provide the call center with the patient’s name and address which is OK but we also have to give them their SS#. We have no choice it’s either hand over this sensitive and very personal information to the call center or the patient’s chemo or scan will not be authorized.  Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Health Net, Prudential, Anthem…all of them outsource.  This practice isn’t helping the consumer, it’s putting millions in the pockets of the insurance company executives.

  10. avatar Miss Lee says:

    In my industry, public accounting, there was a great buzz a couple of years ago about firms shipping basic tax preparation to India and the prepared returns then being returned and reviewed by a reviewer at the firm.  The AICPA came out with an ethical ruling that you could use off shore workers to prep returns but that you had to disclose it to your client.  I have not heard much about this lately.  I don’t know if it is because of firms reluctance to tell clients that they are sending their personal information to India via the internet or if they have realized that it is very difficult to train a reviewer who has not worked for a time doing basic prep.  I am quite sure that it is still occuring due to the tremendous cost savings but it may be confined to non-CPA firms.  Something to ask your tax preparer.

  11. avatar vivi randall says:

    I had to discuss a problem with my wireless with Time Warner Cable and got switched three times to non-native-english speakers. The last one gave me a code for my complaint, a combination of letters and numbers. He was unable to pronounce the letter “J” and once I determined that he was unable to pronounce that letter, he was unable to come up with a word that had J as the first letter so I could have a shot at figuring out what he was saying. 

    I asked for his supervisor and when I got a native english speaker, he fixed the problem. It took four calls, though. 

    I will never buy a Dell laptop computer again because their help desk people, while polite, are not really understandable, and are often only interested in getting me off the phone as quickly as possible, often after making me wait on hold for 20 minutes or more only to find that the number I was calling was the incorrect number. 

  12. avatar Dan Patterson says:

    For the first time I have to disagree with Margo, whose advice I revere.  Increasingly Uncomfortable needs to remember that he or she did not create this policy or this situation.  While bordering on unethical, the company’s behavior is not illegal and speaking up about it can only jeopardize his/her job.  The writer needs the job.  Telling a supervisor that the truth might “leak out” could sound just vaguely like a threat, not a good thing.  The supervisor knows already.  There are some things in life we cannot change, so my advice would be either accept it and live with or get another job.  (After which you could go public with your revelation, I suppose).

  13. avatar Respite says:

    I worked for a very large company that decided to outsource some core functions, one of which was my job.  This was during the time when pundits were insisting that companies had to outsource jobs because Americans were not highly skilled enough. 

    Nonsense!  Every single job that was outsourced was being taken from someone who was highly skilled and well educated.  In fact, in my own case, it took two people to do my one job, and even then I had to redo much of their work as I transitioned my job to them.  I had no ill feellings towards them, in fact I liked them as human beings, but they found it very difficult to do my job which had a large cultural component in it that was hard for anyone who had not lived in this country for a long period to understand. 

    The REAL reasons my company outsourced the jobs were because of the tax advantages AND the lower salaries.  They paid me ca. 50K a year, and they paid each of my replacements 7K a year.  So even if it took two people to do my job, it was still a good deal for the company. 

    This was some years ago, and I was young enough, and the economy good enough. for me to get another, and more secure, job.  I wouldn’t be able to do that now.  Jobs are hard to get and I feel fortunate to have one!

  14. avatar EmTee says:

    My educated guess is that letter writer #1′s industry is medical transcription.