The negative view of Indian outsourcing brokers
I have recently been doing some work with 3 relatively small vendors in The Philippines in helping them to improve their sales and marketing functions to bring in more and better quality projects into their call centre. I had very similar conversations with 3 of them surrounding “Indian brokers”. For those of you who don’t know, brokers are the middlemen who help call centres win business. They then take a commission from the call centre normally as a percentage of the project value or sometimes in the form of an upfront fixed payment. There are 100s of if not 1000s of these brokers around the world and as you would expect, there are a lot in India. These 3 particular companies all had previous poor experiences with such brokers in India and all had policies of not dealing with them.
So, what exactly is the issue with Indian brokers? If you imagine the environment within which they work, they tend to find very poor quality projects which would normally be outbound and normally be pay-per-performance projects. They then find call centres who do these projects who will pay them a fee. However, it’s fairly easy to set up as a broker with little more than a laptop, a phone and an email address. The problem is that it’s fairly difficult to make money in this business. Most pay per performance projects fail and all require a lot more work that first anticipated. Then, if you consider that most decent call centres won’t touch such projects with a barge pole, you end up with a situation where nobody does particularly well out of the arrangement. To get round this, a number of Indian brokers have orchestrated a number of elaborate scams. Most of them involve a very high paying account or a lucrative inbound contract. Let’s get this straight. If you’re a company sat in The United States, United Kingdom or Australia, are you going to allow some unknown broker in India to decide who takes your inbound calls? Of course, you’re not. Secondly, the pricing for offshore call centre services is pretty well known to most users, so why would a company want to pay an exorbitant rate through a broker in India? The rule of thumb here is that it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. They, also try a number of different ways to manipulate the projected results. For example, they will produce fraudulent reports which aim to show the payouts for projects are much higher than they actually are. Of course, to make this all work, they have to get paid upfront. These will charge a fee which can often run into 1000s of dollars to make the introduction. When the introduction is made, the project is either poorly paid or doesn’t exist at all. Other scams I’ve heard of involves when the broker is the one to pay the call centre for work done. When the payment is due, it either never arrives or is far less than anticipated.
Of course, unscrupulous brokers don’t just exist in India. They exist all over the world. However, there does seem to be a huge number in India who seem to be able to change their name and contact details and then hide within India’s vast borders. One thing which is certain is that these brokers now have such a poor reputation amongst the people I speak with, that good call centre no longer wish to use them. However, unscrupulous businessmen are nothing if not creative and have apparently taken to giving themselves American sounding names, USA phone numbers and websites which give the impression that they are based in The United States. Their immoral and often illegal business practices remain the same. The industry is fighting back and the internet is full of the names of the crooks. However, it’s difficult to tell if these are lists are simply being compiled by the crooks themselves to make it appear that they are not part of this group & if they change their name with regularity, then there is really is very little which can be done.