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Twist to BPO: Indian firms can do it faster

March 09, 2004 19:44 IST

In a pleasant twist to the outsourcing controversy, an American lending company has given customers the choice to call up either India or at home, with a warning that if they call in the United States it will take up to two days to process their loan request, while a call centre in India run by Wipro will do it the same day.

On-line lender E-Loan Inc., gives its customers a choice: Press 1 for an outsourcing centre in India or 2 for centre in the US.

It warns the customer that if he presses the button for India, they can have their loan request processed the same day. If they want the application processed in the US, they may have to wait, maybe, two days longer.

"With the movement of US jobs overseas becoming a hot political issue, companies are trying to find new ways to avoid the backlash," said The Wall Street Journal.

"E-Loan's move is the latest wrinkle: disclosing that they have workers overseas, and letting customers themselves decide whether to opt for the advantages they offer," it added.

Since the company started offering the option four weeks ago, said Chris Larsen, E-Loan's chairman and chief executive, 86 per cent of its customers for home equity loans have chosen the India route.

To offer the faster service, E-loan contracts with a unit of Wipro Ltd, which, according to the daily, is expanding its work force by 3,000 each quarter.

E-Loan officials, said the Journal, expect more companies will follow suit.

Some labour groups say they expect more businesses to disclose that they have moved work abroad in the hope that customers will choose the cheaper or faster service anyway.

The controversy over outsourcing, said the Journal, is putting American companies on the defensive about their hiring practices in a way that executives have not seen in years.

Some compare the current anxiety to the mid-1990s, when furor erupted over the downsizing. Several chief executives, including AT&T's then corporate executive, Robert Allen, ended up on the cover of Newsweek under the headline 'Corporate Killers.'

As concern mounts, legislation has been proposed in Congress and in dozens of state capitals to crimp such moves abroad, the paper noted.

Among the proposed techniques are barring government purchasing that involves work sent abroad, imposing tax penalties on companies that send work offshore, and requiring companies to disclose such moves.

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