"Hello, my name is John, and I'm speaking to you from Bangalore, India, today. How can I help you?" That's a phrase that we may start hearing when we make calls to customer service centers, if a recently-proposed bill by House Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA) goes into effect. The bill, HR 1776, is titled "Call Center Consumers Right to Know Act" and would require call center employees to state their physical location when a customer calls in.
As the title indicates, the bill is designed to make customers aware of the widespread nature of call-center outsourcing. Once discovering that a large majority of their calls are being redirected overseas, customers would theoretically be more willing to take action and let companies know how they feel about the hot issue of call center outsourcing that is often blamed for a portion of lost jobs in the US.
The bill's introduction undoubtedly comes from good intentions, but seem like a roundabout way of addressing an issue that is clearly important to certain members of Congress. Many Americans are already painfully aware that their calls are being directed overseas, and such a requirement would only confirm this knowledge. However, the bill might encourage customer pressure on companies to change their outsourcing ways or risk losing business. But it's not clear how many Americans would actually use this knowledge to alter their own buying habits—how many consumers say they'd like to support American clothing businesses but completely ignore "Made in [Country]" tags when it comes down to saving money?
Similar bills were introduced by Senator John Kerry (D-MA) in 2003 and again in 2004 by Representative Ted Strickland (D-OH), but both stagnated in Congress. Altmire's bill is still in the very early stages of the process and has not yet been scheduled for debate in the House.