APAC is sincerely the worst employer I have had the dishonor to work for. They handle calls for several companies that have outsourced their own call centers to save money, so their starting pay is MUCH lower than standard call centers. Here in Tucson, with a lack of transportation to the far ends of town, it's hard to get a job in a standard call center anymore, and took a job there because it was close to home, thinking since I was saving on transportation, I could afford the pay cut after I was laid off my last job (this was a $4.50/hr pay cut, and I was unemployed for almost 5 months before giving up and accepting this job). APAC pretty much just preys on people who can't find employment due to a failed economy and makes promises of advancement, schedule flexibility, benefits, and all around job satisfaction to lure them in.
The first thing to realize about a call center is that if you call in to a company and request to speak to someone higher, usually that person has more authority and is seated in a bank of other people of authority, separate from the person you've originally called. This is how it's worked in every call center I've been employed in, it's efficient, and it helps with consistency when all the higher ups are designated people who sit together. At APAC, this is not at all the case. When you call an APAC center, you get another agent who may have 5 minutes ago been sitting next to the agent you called originally, taking the same calls, who is now walking around offering assistance to other agents. Granted, this agent may know more than the original agent, but they have no extra authority. So you're really not able to properly escalate a situation. Furthermore, since these are regular agents, they could change from day to day and minute to minute. Policies and call handling strategies could vary wildly from call to call. This, in and of itself, makes being a customer service agent frustrating and discouraging. You could be an agent on the floor one minute and a supervisor to someone on the phone the next, with no increase in pay, only responsibility. Oh, and you get to walk around the whole call floor aimlessly waiting for someone to request your assistance. Sometimes this can mean just that, hours of hapless puttering; sometimes this can mean you're running from one end of the building to the other for several hours because you're the only one "selected" to do the job.
Attendance policies are supposedly very strict, they run on a point system. Start at 8 points. You're late, that's a half point you lose. Gone a day, a whole point. Three days, three points, without a doctor's note (if you have a doctor's excuse from work, you only lose one point, regardless of how long you're gone. This is of course assuming you could afford to visit a doctor, but we'll get to that later). If you don't call and don't show up, that's 8 points. When you reach 0 points, you're fired...in theory. There are people in the Tucson center with negative 100+ points, who are still employed. There are also people who got to 0 and were walked out of the building.
Schedule changes, within reason and adhering to staffing needs used to be something one could request with a valid reason. For instance, school, child's special needs, recurring doctor's appointments, etc. Now, they only make schedule accommodations for school, and even then it's just around school hours. So if you get out of school at 11 am, you should be able to get to work at 11:30 and work until 9, so you can get up and start fresh as a daisy for your 6 am classes. Recurring doctor appointments? Too bad. Need to be there to make sure your kid gets on the school bus? Tough, that's what daycare is for. Which, of course, nobody could afford at APAC wages.
Benefits are a laughable matter at best at APAC. I qualify for state health insurance for myself and my children at those wages (along with other services offered by the Department of Economic Services, like food stamps), and so does pretty much anyone else who works for APAC. Why pay for their ridiculously overpriced health plans which cover so little? I was unaware I qualified for state health insurance (medicaid) until I fell ill with the flu this last fall*, I could not afford APAC's health insurance option, so I was uninsured. I had to go to the emergency room after a week of not being able to speak or get out of bed, the bill was well over $1000. I only went so I wouldn't lose 8 points for being out of work sick, so that I could get that doctor's note. The people at the hospital informed me that I should at least try to get medicaid, so I applied, and I was told when I qualified that I may qualify for other services and to apply for those too. It's sad when a company pays so little it's employees are encouraged to apply for economic assistance from the government to get by.
You may have noticed in reading this tale, I am not entirely satisfied with my job. You may say outright unhappy. Well yes, yes I am. All the amenities which would normally come with a call center job (comfortable and supportive seating, desk and team assignments that don't change very often, occasional bonuses) are not offered at APAC. It is the bottom of the barrel, literally, of employers. Currently, I am stuck in a schedule which interferes with my son's medical needs and can't change it; the seating used in my department has caused back problems which I am on heavy medication for and have had to take several days off work for (can't get an ergonomic chair unless I pay for it, even with a doctor's order); I'm constantly second-guessed when I am doing my job, but when team leaders (supervisors) don't know the answer to a question, they ask me; I'm unable to advance due to poor attendance (due to my back problems caused by APAC and their unwillingness to modify my schedule); and have been looking for a new job for 8 months, which is since I got out of my month-long training.
If you are a company looking to hire APAC to fill your staffing needs, look elsewhere. Their employees do not care about your company or your priorities. They care about getting off the phone and going home to look for someplace else to work. Invest the same amount you would pay APAC employees and hire your own. It may be less than what you would normally pay employees, but it would be more than APAC would pay them. Those employees would also be more liable to work well for your company, unlike those agents who worked for programs like Harrah's, Egencia, Qwest, and any other company who cancelled their contracts with APAC due to poor customer service.
*This is one last point to consider: with a lack of enough chairs and computers to accommodate all the employees who work in the center, one cannot sit in the same seat every day. So the germs from the person who sat in that seat earlier in the day get to be yours when you get to work. When I got the flu, over 100 other agents did too due to this policy of "bleeding a resource".