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For several years I'd already been collecting studies on what we'll call the Ugly Truth About Beauty in the Workplace. And now I was thrust into the midst of this form of discrimination. But at AT&T it seemed to me that what we'll call "favoritism" - management selection of preferred employees - was exaggerated by some order of magnitude. In my opinion, the AT&T management had evolved an elaborate system of extreme discrimination and they were deeply engaged in abusing the sales staff as a form of sport. It was like a game of favoritism "on steroids" - institutionalized and enabled by hi-tech AT&T filtering databases that pigeon-hole all callers and employees alike into narrowly defined demographics categories. Everyone is profiled and indexed to indicate their worth.

"…none anywhere along the line
know any of its worth…"
- Bob Dylan

But the way managers single out their favorite staff members to provide them more pay, the "preference-selection" method, was achieved it seems to me through fraud, by using rigged competition, management orchestrated faked/staged races between employees, stacked databases that seem programmed to enable one worker's very high rate of sales, while at the same time undermining another employee's chance of success.

Within days the whole AT&T game became apparent: we'd take our places at our "workstations" and begin taking calls from customers phoning in for cell phone and PDA (Personal Data Assistant i.e. Palm Pilot, Blackberries, etc.) service. Sales reps are each accountable for what's known as their "close ratios" - defined as how many sales we close versus the number of calls sent to our cubicles.

I went into this situation naively believing that incoming calls to these ordering centers were immune to skewing - believing that the calls coming in, these sales opportunities, arrive at our individual workstations in a random way. I thought the computerized phone system at AT&T distributed the incoming calls to workers in a fair and non-tampered manner. But right away we all become aware that, where one phone rep is processing orders from affluent customers who were ready to make large purchases, another sales rep is getting endless "ghetto calls" where almost all of the credit checks for these customers are rejected - resulting in no sales for that AT&T rep.

From my past work experience in call centers I knew that this is exactly how outgoing calling is rigged my managers. At those centers, when an employee dials out to call a prospective customer, the company management distributes the calling leads (the phone numbers on contact lists that employees dial to try and make sales). I'd seen how call center management use their I.T. department to filter the contact phone list and distribute the "leads" so that favored reps get affluent customers to call. These favored employees all reach well-to-do people who are easy to sell things to. This advantage allows that phone rep to make a lot of sales and "earn" much more commission pay than their non-favored co-workers. Management provides disliked employees with calling lists for contacts mostly located in low income neighborhoods. That unfortunate worker gets few sales and has to settle for no commission pay. In these jobs, no monthly commission pay means workers have to live on a base pay of around $8 an hour, or start looking for a better job. It seems to me that, when a sales rep realizes that the managers are matching them up with customers who can't buy anything, and making the rep process calls all day for near minimum wage, with few sales and no commission pay, if the employee doesn't then quit the job, managers laugh and start using that worker for sport. Supervisors amuse themselves by watching the "loser" struggle to make sales in a system that's blatantly, in-your-face rigged against them. It's like watching rats caught in a maze to nowhere, knocking their heads against a wall at every turn. The managers imagine themselves as Pharaoh decreeing that the slaves make bricks without straw. They "fix" the system so we can make no sales, while teacher's pet gets all the easy leads for higher pay.

At AT&T it seemed clear that they "rig the list" for the calls coming into the sales department as well! AT&T's computerized phone system profiles the customer who is calling in and matches either rich or poor callers with either favored or non-favored AT&T sales reps. And worse, it seems that the peculiar "kick" that management gets is to then surround the disliked worker (who get no commission pay) with favored employees who're allowed to make five times more sales per day, for five times more pay per month. The "sport" becomes the manager's ability to dominate disliked employees. Corporations have paid-off congress to legalize this blatant unfairness rubbed in the face of American workers each day. A dominator manager fixes this rigged system to prevent a rep from making sales and then tells the loser: "If you don't like it here, find another job."

In my case, I already had "another job" and was waiting to start work on the new movie and book about Jimi Hendrix - but not until after I got the details of this worker's horror story, so that for the remaining days leading up to asteroid impact, we'll hold up AT&T as epitome examples of "Retarded History" - the beliefs and behaviors of dominators who've set back human advance and left us all defenseless against the Rock…in other words: AT+T = Murderers of Earth.

In these call centers a corporate technology staff is paid to develop computer programs that calculate, for the subscriber of any given phone number, the probability of that customer buying something. The probability of customer purchasing from the company is based on a complex formula derived from analyzing demographic factors, like the caller's zip code of residence, their credit history, payment history, occupation, race, gender, birthday, etc. In a flash the database identifies callers who are magnitudes of probability more likely to purchase a service, while isolating calls coming in from, say, Harlem and flagged as "high credit risk."

Part of this workplace "game" is to realize that, to even suggest to any management staff that this data-skewing and system rigging is taking place will elicit huffs of indignant disbelief and denial. The point seems to be, the employee can't prove it, so let's rub it in their face, as rudely as possible. A freaky thing about these call centers is that it appears the criterion for becoming part of management is to take pleasure in coercing "subordinates" to agree that the distribution of sales leads is random, therefore all the competing teams of reps have the same chance of making sales. Employees are expected to pretend that no individual sales rep has any advantage over another rep as a result of the lists of customers that the company directs specifically to them. It's a hideous insight into the capacity for evil among average people to see these managers gloat over the stress they're allowed to inflict on sales staff, and specifically on to disliked workers (who are just a fraction lower class than their tormentor "supervisors").

At AT&T's incoming call center, it quickly seemed to me that the calls coming into my phone line conformed to a filtered list. Most the customers routed to my line appeared to be "credit-challenged" and not likely to buy anything. At the same time, I'd routinely see near-by co-workers (whom the management likes) get what seemed like a steady stream of calls coming in from, say, Beverly Hills and White Plains, while another rep has all calls arriving in from Appalachia and post-Katrina New Orleans. These later calls rarely result in a sale, and the rep who gets them makes little in commission pay because our pay is based on the number of sales made during the month.

Rabid, Run-away, Outer Limits of Discrimination - Legalized by Congress

The technology of corporate computerized phone systems, and caller database profiling, allows companies like AT&T to surgically determine each rep's chances of making a sale on any particular call routed into that worker's phone line. Rather than receiving "random" incoming calls, this rigged system becomes sickeningly clear within minutes of taking customer calls.

You are sitting in a row of cubicles with identical lines of cubes running along either side of the aisles. At least eight other nearby reps can hear every word you say, and likewise you can hear their conversations. As the hours go by, you gradually become aware that some of the workers you overhear are fielding dramatically different calls than you are.

Whereas I might answer 20 calls in a day (an average call can last a half hour or more) and make 5 sales out of them, the attractive guy in the cube next to mine is answering half the calls that I am yet making double my number of sales. At days end my close-ratio is 25% (of my calls becomes sales), while Mr. Cutie next door has a 150% CR (close-ratio). Whereas I'll take home a commission check of, say, $50, Mr. Alpha Sales walks away with $3000 - for doing the exact same work that I'm doing, except management seemingly routes all callers profiled with "lucrative potential" to his line, and not mine…

Naturally we start listening closer to see what's going on. It doesn't take much time to figure out how this system is "orchestrated."

The computerized phone system, linked with a customer database at AT&T, has all 60 million AT&T subscribers, and hopeful subscribers, seemingly broken down into tiny detailed categories of demographics. It's my opinion that any call dialed into this system is instantly analyzed according to a "purchasing potential profile." An AT&T supercomputer called "the ROC" (think of the "Secret Room" in our video report about AT&T surveillance of Americans) routes the incoming call through a maze of menus and sub-menus, at each stage the computer program analyzes the caller's profile and evaluates/calculates the probability of this person purchasing something. Within milliseconds the ROC knows the odds that this caller will whip out their credit card. It seems that callers with high likelihood of buying are then routed to Mr. Cutie's cubicle, while a parade of homeless ex-cons populate most of my incoming calls.

Through the "magic" of Orwellian supercomputers, consumer profiles are dissected into detailed categories. Everyone who calls in to apply for service with AT&T is required to submit to a credit check - they must divulge much of their "identity" data: social security number, driver's license number w/expiration date, birthday, physical address, occupation, place of employment, and very significantly, their home zip code, which is matched up with a national demographics/zoning database to estimate the amount of their monthly "discretionary spending" income based on where they live. Then the ROC connects with several national credit bureaus and infuses this data with a credit check, all while the customer is waiting on the line.

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