If Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) gets his way, the cost of calling for tech support is going up. Under a new proposal, US companies would be taxed 25 cents per call outsourced to a foreign call center; there would be no fee for calls transferred to a call center inside the US. The bill would also require companies to disclose to customers when their calls are being transferred outside of the US and the company would also have to tell customers where their calls were being transferred.
Schumer said about the proposal, “[i]f we want to put a stop to the outsourcing of American jobs, then we need to provide incentives for American companies to keep American jobs here.”
Currently, many US companies route calls outside of the country. Top destinations for US call centers are India, Indonesia, Ireland, Canada, the Philippines and South Africa. Labor in those countries tend to be cheaper which is why US companies use them as opposed to US employees. The result is job loss. One survey conducted by the Technology Marketing Corp claims that from 2001 to 2003, the US lost 250,000 call center jobs alone to India and the Philippines.
In addition to protecting jobs, Schumer claims the bill would protect customers. Currently, personal information held outside of the US (yes, that means bank account numbers, credit card information and the like) is not subject to the same level of consumer protection as that information held inside the US.
There’s no estimate yet on how much money the tax is expected to generate.
But what do you think? Good for US jobs? Or likely to drive up costs for consumers? Or both?