As many people know, telemarketers often skirt the edge of taste, ethics, and manners. However, Civic Development Group, aka Millenium Teleservices, aka CDG Management, is a particularly rotten organization from both an employee as well as the public's perspective. As a former employee, I am quite familiar with their operations.
First off, on paper, Civic Development Group and Millenium Teleservices, as far as I know, are separate entities. If you switch from one to the other, you must first be let go from one and then hired by the other.
For this I have some theories, namely to keep one end of the company running if the other is taken out of commission through legal entanglements, etc., but like I said, it's just a theory. In the physical world, on the other hand, they are the same company. They operate out of the same buildings, the same room, the same cubicles. Really, the only difference is that a banner on one side of the room says Civic and the other side says Millenium. Same management, staff, and equipment.
The bulk of Civic's business comes from telephone solicitation for charities. On the surface, not a bad thing, people calling around, asking for donations for state trooper's associations, fraternal order of police, and things like that. Of course, one would expect some costs to come out of the donations for payment of employees, long distance costs, etc.
This is where the fantasy idea and reality set in. On average, somewhere around 85% of all monies donated to the charities in question went directly into the coffers of Civic Development Group. Oftentimes it is more than that. I specifically saw figures of 12% as the amount of donations going to the actual charities. Why would they offer this information to the public or even a telemarketer in the company? Legally, they have to. If someone that is called asks the percentage, it must be given to them.
Well, in theory, anyway.
It doesn't stop there.
In an effort to boost the amount of money brought in, every effort is made by the company to project the image that an actually police officer or state trooper is making the phone call. We were specifically told to speak forcefully, with authority, and with as must bass as we could muster to give to the person on the other end of the phone the appearance of a big, burly law enforcement officer.
They even went so far as to have the unofficial policy of having no females doing the fundraising solicitations. This was somewhat spoken of to employees as well as put into action. During my duration as an employee of Civic, there was exactly one female fundraiser out of about 30 to 35 people on the Civic side of the building. This was also a form of pay discrimination as Civic paid $8 an hour while Millenium paid $6.
Basically, we could go take it as far as we could to be police officers without actually saying it.
There was a reason for this.
As I worked at Civic post- their late 90s ordeal with the FTC, Civic was already having many of their outgoing calls recorded by the FTC to be randomly reviewed for compliance. Having someone specifically say they were a police officer is definitely a no-no, but pretending to be one up to that point is still... "OK."
I must give them credit, however, many of their location choices for offices as well as recruiting tactics were genius. If one scours the web for "Civic Development Group," many hits for small local newspapers and Chamber of Commerce pop up. This is because Civic specifically targets small, down-on-their-luck communities to build facilities. Having spoken with a few lower-management folks, it has been revealed to me that these were not charitable decisions.
Many offices are located in West Virginia and Kentucky, for instance. They blow into a small, ex-mining town with high unemployment and promise to open a sparkling new facility with part- and full-time employment to upwards of 100 people. People in these small communities think they have hit the jackpot. Civic, on the other hand, loves this. Why? These are desperate, oftentimes uneducated people.
Many of these people have been out of work and have families to feed. $8 an hour, 40 hours a week is enough to pull a person above the poverty line. These people will give 110% regardless of the ethical dilemmas the work presents. Better yet, they inter-mingle ranks of telemarketer and immediate supervisors, promoting the uninformed and desperate to run the slave ships.
The supervisors typically work 50 to 60+ hours a week for approximately the same pay. Speaking of supervisors, they frequently shuffle them from town to town to keep them dependent on the company. Moving to Logan, West Virginia to be a manager sounds "great," until they get there and realize there are no more opportunities there than where they left. Having no other employment opportunities in a new town, they are stuck.
In the few cities they locate at that do have other industries, they target potential employees in the same fashion. They select the desperate, uneducated, and those least likely to question what they do. I specifically spoke with supervisors who deliberately and almost exclusively compaigned in public housing projects for future employees.
They are some pretty sleazy folks.
It's unfortunate because those who benefit the most are the ones that are never seen. Immense pressure from the supervisors is put on the telemarketers to produce, which in turn is put on the supervisors by their managers, and so on and so forth. Like I said peviously, they pick the most desperate people to employ so they will do whatever upper management would like them to do, and that is how it works.
Occasionally there were incentives thought up by local management and supervisors, such as:
Free beer to the caller who brought in the most money during the shift Free bag of weed to the caller who brought in the most money during the shift Free cigarettes, Black and Milds, etc. to the caller who brought in the most money during the shift.
Admittedly these incentives were infrequent, but they did occur. Also keep in mind that these incentives were offered regardless of the age of employee, of which I know ranged from 14 to mid-60s at my office.
These are the people handling the public's "donations," credit card applications (which is a whole other boat of borderline-ethics), and long distance changes (ditto.)
To find your nearest Civic Development Group office, do not attempt to look it up on the Internet or in the local phone book. From my experience, they were never listed in the phone book nor were we allowed to give out any information to anyone beyond current or potential employees. In fact, if you call the Civic Development company 800# they will not give you an address or phone number without knowing your employee number first. I was told this was because "people like to do crazy things to telemarketers." We were told to never, ever give out the address because someone may "send us a bomb." This came from management.
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