Originally created 09/18/02

FutureCall slashes telemarketer pay



Telemarketing company FutureCall LLC cut base wages for its phone agents this week. The move resulted in a small protest at its Augusta call center Monday, and the company said it expects some employees will quit.

The company said the pay cut is designed to make the company's compensation system more performance-based by rewarding top employees through sales-generated commissions.

"We are a sales organization, and we realize that we need to pay like one," FutureCall CEO Brent Welch said in a prepared statement sent to The Chronicle on Tuesday afternoon.

FutureCall spokeswoman Dawn Perkins, who did not respond to phone calls, said in the statement that the company understands "the change in compensation will cause a small percentage of our employees to choose to leave the company to seek positions with pay that is not linked to performance."

Although pay varies widely among call center employees - depending on their performance and whether they work nights and weekends - the reduction cuts base pay for full-time employees from about $10 to about $8 and part-time employees from approximately $8 to about $6.50.

The Colorado Springs, Colo.-based company has previously said that top employees generate 60 to 70 percent of sales.

The company's west Augusta call center, which at one time employed nearly 1,000 workers, now employs fewer than 400.

An employee at the center who declined to be identified said she knew of several workers who planned to quit. Several employees protested the pay cut outside the Stevens Creek Road facility Monday.

Changes in FutureCall's compensation plan come as telemarketers face increased pressure since the Sept. 11 attacks and from legislative changes, such as state-enforced "no-call" programs that allow consumers to have their names removed from marketing lists.

The Augusta-Aiken area has more than a dozen call centers, employing about 2,000 people. Unlike FutureCall, the majority of the call centers do not make telemarketing calls. Most take only in-bound customer service and technical support calls.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or dcline@augustachronicle.com.