The Work Number services four of my previous jobs, unfortunately, because I have found them immensely difficult to deal with. I worked at Younkers about two years ago, but have found out that this
company also services Gap, Sara Lee, and Barnes & Noble--pretty much
every job I worked at while in college. Just recently I have had to contact them to provide salary information to a job I am trying to secure. As others have said, I have been delayed in actually securing a position at my current company because of the tactics of The Work Number, which make it nearly impossible to authorize the release of personal information.
Just today I attempted to log onto the work numbers internet site, which they must desperately hope is the only way you attempt to utilize their services. But since I only worked at said Younkers job seasonally 2 years ago, I did not remember my UserID or pin, nor could I remember even having received one. I called the number prompted and was taken through a maze of prompts which usually ended up dumping me back at the first option (anyone else trying to call: just use the number pad, the voice feature really doesn't work.) No matter how many times I said "operator" or pressed zero (even when prompted to in order to receive a "client specialist") I could not get an actual representative. I tried to find a direct line to someone, but failed. So I kept pressing buttons. Finally the system said "You have made too many errors, let me direct you to a [real person]" but I waited on hold for 30 minutes without any indication I was still connected.
So, I found out that The Work Number is owned by TALX corporation (which apparently has been sued by the FTC--more info on the gov site here: http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/07/talx.shtm). I called their secretary a couple times and talked to her, and luckily got connected pretty quickly (So If you are calling for employment verification, the best bet is to call Talx) I found that the phone operators at the work number are not particularly professional and it sounds like the noise in the background is recorded and played like those scammy "lower your credit rating" calls, which I thought was very odd.
I also asked to speak to a supervisor and asked to know why it would take so long to get anyone. She blamed high call volume (at 2:00 PM CST in the afternoon on a weekday) and that the phone tree was meant to be self-sufficient. She also claimed that it was Bon-Ton's fault for requesting more stringent measures in verification. She was not very nice or understanding either. Basically blamed it all on the employers they service.
Finally, after all of that, I have my ID and PIN so I should be able to verify my info (fingers crossed). But the really terrible thing is that this company or their affiliates compromised my personal info (social security number, address, etc.) twice before I turned 20. It makes me sick when I think about how much money they are making by farming out all of the Human Resource duties of huge companies when it seems like all they really do is provide a website for employees to gather their own information. I am NOT impressed. I plan on contacting Bon Ton board of directors to let them know exactly what this service is doing for them.