I am an ex-employee of this company. I want to make clear that I was never fired from that job. I quit when I became pregnant. I was a telephone operator. I was aware of the many faults after a week of working there. I left International Satellite Communications over a year ago, but remain in touch with some people that work there still and that is why I posses some information that is very important to people who have used this service in the last eight months, especially if you used a credit card.
The company provides a basic service which is international calls with credit cards or collect. These calls are extremely expensive. The standard rate for a collect call is US$25.47 for the first five minutes. A credit card call can be up to US$29.95 for the first five minutes and the operators are forced to connect credit card calls to any answer that they get, even if it is only an answering machine or voice mail or even a message saying the the phone number is not in service. If there is only an answering machine and a person decides to leave a 30 second message the charge will still be 30 dollars. The operators are forbidden to give the rates of the calls unless the caller asks specifically for them.
Altough these rates don't always apply. I've known of 2 or 3 minute calls that are sometimes US$45 to US$65.
People who travel overseas are ripped off more often because they usually cannot get an english speaking operator at their hotel and the hotel will just transfer them to this operator service. And not only in hotels. This company provides service for motels, hospitals, they have payphones in a lot of countries where the real rates are never clearly posted. Sometimes it is not even safe to use your own cell phone in another country, as sometimes we got calls from people using their cell phones in Mexico and they still got charged $30 to $60 dollars for their calls.
Another way they rip people off is that most phonecalls will automatically cut off after fifteen minutes, so the customer has to call again and will be charged another US$30.
International Satellite Communications is deceptive in the extreme. The operators are estrictly forbidden to disclose the location of the call center. If an international customer asks we are just supposed to say that it is an american-based company. If a CANOPCO customer asks we say the company is located in Canada, but not specify in which province. The actual call center is actually located in TIJUANA, MEXICO. Some of the operators speak english with a very heavy latin accent and that is why when the operator tells a canadian person that the company is in Canada a lot of people laugh and others get angry.
The company also has an automated system for international calls, and a customer can request the rates of calls by pressing 4 or 5, but the aut. sys. always gives the rates as six dollars as a connection fee and a dollar a minute. That is not true. The call will still cost 25 to 35 dollars no matter what the aut. sys. says.
There are also Customer Service Representatives for international calls. A customer will be provided with an 800 number to call on their phone bill (if they accepted a collect call) or on their credit card statement if they used a card. The CSR will explain the charges and will sometimes make 40 or 50% discounts on the charges, but most of the time they just tell customers that since they made the calls, now the have to pay for them. I have seen charges of up to US$6,000 from people who made over 20 calls unaware that the calls were so expensive. Another lie that the CSR tells is that when a customer is complaining of expensive collect calls the CSR will tell them that a collect call is the most expensive call. But if a customer used a credit card they will also be told that a credit card call is the most expensive way to make calls.
All CSR's use fake names. Here's some. Vince Ortiz (real name Victor Ortiz); Emily Diaz (Alicia Castillo); David Brown (Oscar Rodriguez); Danny Garcia (Javier Moncayo); Scott Owens (Norberto Peres); Michael Barrera (Miguel Angel Magaa). CSR's are encouraged to use names that sound american even though they are all mexican and some are actually deportees from the US.
The main supervisor is a woman called Vania Monge and all she does is look pretty when the people from VISA go to visit, aside from that she just sits in her office and does nothing all day. She is supposed to have a degree in something, but it is never specified in what. Some of the other supervisors are also supposed to have gone to college, but one of them who calls herself Samantha, real name Loto Tirado, is only 25 years old and has worked there for 7 years. As far as I know she hardly finished high school.
Now here comes the real reason I decided to make this report. As I said before I still have contact with people that work at the call center and something has happened recently. A CSR was stealing credit card information. The system used to process a call with a credit card asks for credit card number, security code, expiry date, card holder's name and billing zip code or postal code. I was told that a sheet of paper was found with all this information from over twenty different credit cards. And even though the company knew who that sheet belonged to, they waited four days to fire the thief. And not only that. I was told that the thief was writing down all information he stole right under the noses of at least four supervisors and they either did not notice or did not care. The fact remains that information has been stolen for as long as eight months and either by the company's blatant ineptitude or just plain dereliction of their job (or even favoritism, as the offending operator was a favorite of all supervisors), possibly hundreds of people could be at risk of identity theft.
The worst thing is that the company cannot be sued because it is in Mexico and US laws do not apply in Mexico. VISA has been to visit many times because this is not the first time that there is an incident of stolen information. It has happened before and will happen again unless people wise up and stop using this companiy's services. If you are traveling and need to make a phone call, please, always ask how much the the call is, and if the operator does not give a rate, hang up and call again until you are told what you are going to be charged.
If you have used these services in the last eight months and suspect identity theft, talk with somebody from your credit card company, complain, let them know what this company is doing.
If somebody who works at VISA, Master Card, American Express, Diner's Club or Discover is reading this, please alert someone at your company about this company and their mistakes. Do not let companies like this get away with their ripping people off just because laws do not apply to them.