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English: An Indian call center

English: An Indian call center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some corporations have questionable strategies of funneling their tax dollars by influencing each employee’s need for assistance. Wal-Mart is known for such practices; but, keep in mind that there are some other major corporations which are more talented at covering their tracks by contracting other companies to pick up the workload and save face. On the other hand, some of these contracted companies which are hired by reputable corporations have operations overseas. Do you want to know why it is that when you call into a customer service agent, you aren’t likely going to be transferred? You’re being placed on hold for long periods of time and you’ll continue to speak to the same agent because that he or she is discussing your account and issues with an “internal department” while acting as an interpreter. In many cases, the agent you’re speaking with isn’t paid a living wage. Additionally, the internal department which is located on foreign soil likely has access to all of the personal information you provided upon opening your account. Why is this bad?

“There is no statutory obligation or cybercrime law which hinders or prohibits law enforcement assistance or prosecution for callers or the offshoring company (See more at here at this link).”

I guess that’s one way of getting out of being responsible for your employees without the government frowning on it too much, after all, in order for one to qualify for any government assistance, one would have to be a U.S. citizen!  Such “reputable” corporations are free from providing a living wage and can still maintain an offshore operation through a patsy call center. Who pays for it in the long-run? The customer who mysteriously has his identity stolen due to such practices is only the tip of the ice burg.

Español: Un Wal-Mart remodelado en la Ciudad d...

Español: Un Wal-Mart remodelado en la Ciudad de México,México. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wal-Mart is taking a lot of heat for not providing responsibly for its workers. Why? Because of the corporation’s direct method of contact with its consumers and onshore employment practices; therefore, it’s among the easiest type of corporation to catch (see more here). Additionally, more call centers have confidentiality requirements, so good luck finding out who contracts call centers that offshore (see an example here). Wal-Mart isn’t the only “poverty job” in the U.S. today. Here is a list of poverty guidelines in 2013:

2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR THE 48 CONTIGUOUS STATES
AND THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,020 for each additional person.
1 $11,490
2 15,510
3 19,530
4 23,550
5 27,570
6 31,590
7 35,610
8 39,630
2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR ALASKA
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $5,030 for each additional person.
1 $14,350
2 19,380
3 24,410
4 29,440
5 34,470
6 39,500
7 44,530
8 49,560
2013 POVERTY GUIDELINES FOR HAWAII
Persons in family/household Poverty guideline
For families/households with more than 8 persons, add $4,620 for each additional person.
1 $13,230
2 17,850
3 22,470
4 27,090
5 31,710
6 36,330
7 40,950
8 45,570

SOURCE:  Federal Register, Vol. 78, No. 16, January 24, 2013, pp. 5182-5183

Any employer who doesn’t pay its employees a wage higher than these standards can be considered a “welfare corporation.” All employees who fall within the above guidelines will qualify for some sort of government assistance; but, is it their fault if their employers refuse to pay a living wage, refuse to schedule the employee enough hours  and pay enough for employees to qualify for health insurance? Is it an employee’s fault if the employer refuses to compromise an employee’s schedule if he or she is attending college or working a second job? If the employee opts to work two part-time jobs to equal full-time hours, how likely is it that he or she will have access to any health insurance? Not likely.
English: A little girl leaning against a sofa.

English: A little girl leaning against a sofa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s invent the realistic scenario of “Jane”. Jane is the single mother of Aiden who is two years old. Jane needs to pay $350 a month in order to afford suitable childcare for her daughter. After a two year relationship, Aiden‘s father is difficult to find and has no interest in his child. Aiden’s father plans to sign away parental rights in order to avoid responsibility to his daughter as soon as Jane remarries.

Jane scores a job that pays $7.25 an hour because she wants more for her daughter and needs to buy clothing and other things. Due to the Obamacare mandate, the corporation that Jane works for will only schedule her for 29 hours per week. The problem is, Jane can only leave her daughter in childcare for up to 40 hours per week and it’s closed on Sundays; therefore, Jane’s unable to find another job that will hire her for only 11 hours.
Jane qualifies for housing, which will help her with 1/3 of her rent portion of $700 per month. Jane lives in apartments specifically built by a corporation to house low income families. For $700 a month, Jane and Aiden will live in a basic two bedroom apartment that doesn’t have washer/dryer hook-ups or a dishwasher. They live in an area where air conditioners aren’t required, so they don’t have one of those, either.
Food Stamps

Food Stamps (Photo credit: NCReedplayer)

Jane will receive $367 in food stamp benefits, she will receive a grant for her childcare, and an additional supplement of $399 per month. Jane won’t need to pay for her daycare unless Aiden gets sick. The childcare grant will not cover for days Aiden is not there; however,  the daycare requires the slot in the daycare to be paid for no matter what. If Aiden gets sick (which in daycare it happens a lot), Jane does qualify for medicaid for her daughter which will pay for all of her doctor’s visits and medications.

Presuming Jane doesn’t miss any work hours and has a support system to care for Aiden when she’s sick, Jane will gross $10,092 in earned income. Jane will receive a tax refund of  $5318.

All of the benefits Jane will receive for the year from the taxpayers will make her earned and unearned income add up to $24.938 + medical for Aiden. This figure doesn’t include the rent grant.
In other words, the corporation that receives Jane as an asset contributed $10,092 and the government contributed an excess of $14,846 that year.
Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporati...

Woman aircraft worker, Vega Aircraft Corporation, Burbank, Calif. Shown checking electrical assemblies (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

Let’s presume that Jane scored a better job that paid her $12 per hour and worked her 34 hours per week. Jane won’t receive supplemental cash or food because she makes too much. Jane pays the full $700 in rent, too. Fortunately, Jane is within the corporate guidelines to qualify for their insurance policy; however, she’s required to pay $120 a month for her health insurance and has a $2000 deductible before it kicks in to pay a portion of her services. There is one catch though, the insurance policy only allows for up to 5 office visits and will not cover maternity costs. Jane paid $1500 out of pocket for medical care for the year and she only saw the doctor once.

Jane’s gross earned income is $19,584 for the year. She received $4200 in childcare grants and will receive a tax refund of $4942. The total combined benefits add up to $28,796. Keep in mind that in this scenario, Jane is able to pay her own bills with the exception of childcare and Aiden’s medical expenses, which are covered through Medicaid.
Is that enough math for you? If corporations paid citizens enough money to pay their bills, that would help with the availability of Social Security to the people who are disabled and elderly who have ALSO paid into it. We know how Mitt Romney feels about them:

Obviously, when corporations will opt to offshore jobs in pursuit of profits, it results in less employment opportunities on American soil; however, these corporations won’t dip into assistance programs through their employees directly, they will do it through whomever they contract as an American facade and through many complicated loopholes in which their clients do not see.

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Imagine, you’re ready to shop for something unique,  perhaps it’s a hard to find gift for your grandmother’s 69th birthday, or maybe you simply need a pair of shoes– either way, you won’t find this item locally, so you drive yourself to the virtual mall in hopes you’ll find what you’re looking for.

The Corridor, Bath

You step into the corridor and notice it bends and turns,  it’s infinite. The shops that are lined along the sides will change every couple of minutes. Thankfully, you have a tracker in your pocket that will record the name of every shop that you enter during your quest. You shout, “Unique gift for grandma!”  The shops along the corridor change rapidly, and the most popular stores that are relevant to your request are situated closest to you.

You step into the nearest virtual store and see photographs displayed all over the walls. You notice there’s a mannequin with a sign that reads, “If you have any questions, ask me!” standing in the shop. After looking through a couple of images, your interest is piqued upon the discovery of  Tailless Sock-Monkeys for sale; therefore, you ask  the mannequin if they’re vintage. You wait for an answer; but, the mannequin does nothing.

A pair of homemade sock monkeys.

You walk back out to the corridor and shout, ” Vintage Tailless Sock- Monkey!”  and again, the shops change to accommodate your request. You walk into the closest shop and notice the walls have photographs of Tailless- Sock Monkeys, toy trains, metal doll houses, every classic toy you could possibly imagine; however, it’s a bit expensive and you want to compare prices. You hit the button on the tracker in your pocket to record the place so you won’t have any problems locating it in the future.

You notice that every store you go into has the same mannequin, with the same sign; however, the clothing is different on each. You ask questions with the exact same results.

Where am I going with this? The answer is simple. Part of getting good online sales involves reciprocation. I’ve noticed how businesses utilize their websites and they seem to fall short of that element. Businesses will hire the IT guy to throw up a website and load the content, then they keep the IT guy to fix all of the technical problems in the office. The business web presence is an afterthought; therefore, it’s lacking. Businesses want to hire an SEO to be sure their shops are the first ones you’re going to see; but, is that enough? For a business to hire an SEO to bump up its rank in a search engine is only the tip of what one needs to do in order to generate sales.
A good SEO will pay attention to potential clients and people who think enough to care for your

English: A business ideally is continually see...

English: A business ideally is continually seeking feedback from customers: are the products helpful? are their needs being met? Constructive criticism helps marketers adjust offerings to meet customer needs. Source of diagram: here (see public domain declaration at top). Questions: write me at my Wikipedia talk page (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

business. A good SEO must read blogs in place of asking probing questions and providing good information when relevant. It’s up to the consumer to decide what to get and when to get it. Sales people in stores usually get a base wage in addition to commissions; however, when a person is online it’s all commission only. An SEO must research, know how to communicate effectively and have the drive to write regularly, have an eye for design, understand how to network to other sites and reciprocate. A good SEO is constantly networking, which means he or she will leave relevant comments on the blogs of consumers and build relationships.

It isn’t enough to bring your store and products to consumers. Advertising may be infinite on the world wide web; however, it isn’t free. Is it fair to expect the IT guy to go above an beyond repairing every bit of technology in the office and wear a second hat as a writer and editor, graphic artist, photographer and photo editor,  market analyst, advertiser, and sales agent? IT guys are some of the busiest people I know, and most of them don’t want to do any of the above. IT guys are the ones every person in the office approaches without asking, “How are you?” and instead are asked, “How do you download this app onto my iPhone?”

In-store sales agents are there, the products and agents come and go. In-store agents aren’t putting up signs, creating logos, writing essays about the products, analyzing the market, taking photos or editing them. All of that work is done for them. However, if a business posts something on the internet, it’s there for as long as a company wishes it.

You really can’t be in two places at once. Do your business a favor, hire a Social Media expert who knows SEO and remember, nobody should have to work for free.

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