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Home > Business > PTI > Report

US mulls Bill to bring back call centres

January 29, 2007 18:02 IST

Law makers in the US' Minnesota state are pushing for a legislation that will allow people to request an alternative American call centre if they are seeking personal or financial information.

The bill apparently has the backing of organised labour especially the Communications Workers of America, which has opposed outsourcing of communication and IT jobs to foreign countries, especially India.

Labour unions feel that the legislation will help bring "back" some of the call centres to the US. But similar bills have been opposed by businesses in the past.

The legislation that has been sponsored by state Representative Joe Atkins and state Senator Dan Sparks would also require the call centre employee to disclose, if asked, which country they are speaking from.

The legislators have cited the issue of security of information transmitted and the perceived inability of foreigners to understand American idioms as the reasons for pushing the bill.

"We're getting more complaints from folks who say they can't understand customer service people, with the language barrier, and people are extra nervous about giving out personal information," Sparks said.

But, Indian-American Senator Satveer Chaudhary has brushed aside the concerns stressing that it reflected among other things a resentment of foreigners and jingoism. "I have just as many difficulties dealing with call centres in Louisiana," he said.

Tom Hesse, of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, contends that existing federal laws that address identity theft are sufficient to protect consumers dealing with companies that use foreign call centres.

"Any time one state wants to regulate interstate or international commerce, it raises red flags," Hesse said, adding business interests "are studying it (the bill), willing to work further with sponsors, but still haven't approved it".

He said the companies concerned about the bill include financial institutions, health-care companies and retailers. Atkins, however, dismissed the contention that the state of Minnesota cannot regulate international commerce.

"We do it all the time. If they are doing business here, they are subject to Minnesota law, and it doesn't matter if they are in Pakistan or India," he was quoted as saying by the daily Star Tribune.

Tim Lovaasen, president of the Minnesota Council of the CWA, said, "If enough people raise enough stink about this, maybe they'll bring a service centre or two back to the United States."

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