Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Post-Prosperity America

Our wonderful credit card companies, that brought you free and easy credit for so many years, have now outsourced their collection centers to places like India. Look at this report in the WaPo, for a look at what's coming.

With her flowing, hot-pink Indian suit, jangly silver bangles and perky voice, Bhumika Chaturvedi, 24, doesn't fit the stereotype of a thuggish, heard-it-all-before debt collector. But lately, she has had no problem making American debtors cry.

For the past three years, Chaturvedi has been a top collection agent at her call center, phoning hundreds of Americans a day and politely asking them to pay up. As the U.S. financial crisis plunges Americans into debt, her business is one of the fastest-growing sectors in Indian outsourcing. It is also one of the few sectors of outsourcing in India that is still hiring aggressively.

Few places in India absorb and imitate American culture as much as call centers, where ambitious young Indians with fake American accents and American noms de phone spend hours calling people in Indiana or Maine to help navigate software glitches, plan vacations or sell products. The subculture of call centers tends to foster a cult of America, an over-the-top fantasy where hopes and dreams are easily accomplished by people who live in a brand-name wonderland of high-paying jobs, big houses and luxury getaways.

But collection agents at this call center outside New Delhi are starting to see the flip side of that vision: a country hobbled by debt and filled with people scared of losing their jobs, their houses and their cars.

"Lately, 25-year-old Americans are telling me that they are declaring themselves bankrupt," said Chaturvedi, raising her eyebrows in shock. "These days the situation is so emotional, so fragile. We have to have so much empathy and patience."

Do these credit card companies realize how immoral and unpatriotic they have been? Shame on them!

1 comment:

  1. Post prosperity is a great phrase...mushc better than RECOVERY (what recovery?) I coined it on my own this morning in emailing an upscale academic friend. To me the Prosperity period begins with the Imperial Presidency of JFK.... What's your take on the chronology... Best BOB OLIPHANT, columnist, WWW.EdNews.Org