My Last Day on the Plantation.
::THE pain in the ass::
Well folks, I am released from Purgatory. Jan 22nd was my last day at my job. They moved the project to Fredericksburg VA, where TSA is based. This was due to some internal bullshyt, but is ok with me.
This job was miserable and depressin’. This was a call center that took calls for TSA for the TWIC card. This is a card that someone between TSA and Dept of Homeland Security, (and implemented by Lockheed Martin) sat up one day and decided to mandate that all “transportation workers” (and that list is growing on the daily!) are required to have this ‘credential’ basically as a condition of their employment.
At cost of $132.50.
TSA urged these people to apply for this card with a deadline of April 15, 2009. ( The mandate was prototyped in 2007) Of course that day has come and gone, and people are still applying and waitin’ for cards to date. Some of the enrollment centers required folks to drive across state lines to apply, and you had to return there to pick up the card, since they will not mail them out…
They told these people who once they applied they would have their cards within 6-8 weeks. If they had to file a ‘appeal or waiver’, which means that they have found something in their background questionable, that would be decided within 25 days (that statement has since been taken off the TSA site, since it surely is untrue). Well the person (Trusted Worker, they are called) can expect to wait on, the average I’ve seen, 8-9 months; there are people who applied for this card in 2007, and still do not have a card. What this means is that these people cannot go to work and feed their families during this time.
This card was also made mandatory for Merchant Mariners. This means they had to apply for another card to carry to work, or not work at all. Since they and HME have a ‘comparable background check’ they were charged $105.25 and MIGHT get their cards sooner. Not always the case.
Thats where it got depressing. We took the calls from people who had not heard anything about their card status in over a year, and having lost their jobs, are now losin’ their cars, homes, and in one guy’s case, his whole family because he could not support them. His wife left him and took the kids….all over this dayumm card. If in their frustration they wanted to speak with a supervisor, we were to tell them that the supervisor will give the same infor to try to deter them from asking for the sup. If they persisted we took down “call back” info; they rarely (never) got that call back…
TSA is makin’ mistakes as well. The Agents in the enrollment centers (from temp agencies with little/no training) are losing information, misspelling TW’s names, and mis-filing applications. The fingerprint thingy failed in alot of centers, and that caused delays. All this costs the TW eons of time, because they either have to wait for them to ‘locate the enrollment’ or re-apply all together. Another 6 months waiting and out of work…
We ‘escalate’ the tickets and TSA does not even touch them for 3-4 months. The card status online (when the site is not 404!) has not been updated almost since the day the TW applied. There was one while that someone from TSA (not sayin their name) was closing the tickets and saying they were duplicates and to search for them by Application ID. Well since you closed the ticket why not include the actual ticket number instead of adding more drama to the rep by asking them to search for something that could have been included on a system that doesn’t work? This all before she re-opened them days/weeks later, with a note, apologizing that this was done in error. These workers don’t have time for errors.
I took a call one day from a guy in Idaho, who’d never been anywhere in his life but there, yet TSA told him he needed to explain his birth in Algiers! This means he had to file the fatal “appeal and waiver”, which had taken at the time of the call, already 10 months with no answer. All because someone made a mistake.
The Appeal & Waiver process is deeply flawed. Not only do they take inordinate amounts of time to ‘depose’ these requests, they are wrongly assessin’ folks; people are getting the Initial Determination letter, and are not aliens and do not have criminal records. If you don’t answer the letter in 60 days (but they can take a year!) they will close your case “without action”-which means you have to WRITE A LETTER to TSA and ‘request they re-open your case! WTF? They are also closing cases before the TW even gets the letter, before the 60 days have passed, and by mistake since some of the people HAVE NOT RECEIVED a letter in the first place!
NELP (National Employment Law Project) released a study last June, that 10,000+ workers had lost their job by the time that study was created…all due to this dayumm card and the missteps of TSA and Lockheed Martin. And these people are impactin’ the UI numbers as well but for a different reason. Not because there IS no work and they’re not able and ready, but because they CAN’T take the job…because of this card. These numbers are blamed on Obama too, tho its the fault of the aforementioned entities..
They have no recourse, since they are being told they cannot bring any action against The Government.
Meanwhile we are locked down to a 4.50 min handle time, while we searched for the ticket number (90% of the callers didn’t have it!) stated and spelled back everything on the ticket, searched for the App ID (that 90% didn’t have!) BEFORE we handled the callers issue, and raked over the coals for misspelled words or grammar , (yet Lockheed Martin couldn’t spell a lick, and thats all the way up to the top guy!), or missin’ that impossible handle time workin on an application that spent more time hangin’ on the screen frozen or with CGI errors than anything else… They have no idea how to run a call center. At all.
I would have to come home and ‘de-program’ and get my head together. I’ve been in Customer Service for a long time. This was not Customer Service as I knew it; a manager there told me once that we ARE NOT customer service; we are the ‘Help Desk’-all we are to do is tell them the (flawed and incorrect) information we see on then screen and get them off the phone. I’m guessin’ that was due to Lockheed payin them by ticket we produced on each call. Help my ass; I’m not used to that.
I hated even goin’ there every day, my attitude and energy sank the closer I got to the building every mornin’ . I was losin’ sleep and havin’ frequent headaches. I took a 30-day leave back in August, just due to the stress…
They offered us positions in other departments. I turned that down and took the attractive severance pkg, and my investments in the company. We will also get UI since we are statused as ‘laid off.’ I’m runnin off to Cali for some down time. I will spend some time just ‘breathing’ and gettin’ my emotions in order. It’s hard to listen to these stories these people had without emotin’ with them.
You had to be made of stone…
I just hope someone gets this shyt together.