Experts who answer customer chats at Samsung.com through the Ibbu staffing agency shared that the system makes them render free work through customer support chats when they are only paid commissions based on sales, with no hourly rate. The story was published by The Verge last April 14. Over four weeks later, one of the experts was fired.
Of the dozen experts interviewed, only Jennifer Larson gave the permission to be named. However, a day after The Verge story came out, she was notified of temporary suspension. Ibbu fired her four weeks later, The Verge reported. The termination, however, has nothing to do with said story, an unnamed Ibbu spokesperson claimed. In the statement sent from the company email address, Ibbu indicated that Larson shared “third-party” content with Ibbu visitors, which “constitutes a material breach of the Services Agreement.”
Larson is not the only expert who was left wondering if speaking out on the issue led to their termination. Two others were dismissed from the Samsung Mobile “mission” after interaction with The Verge. Further, another expert who shared the story on LinkedIn was terminated, as well. Nonetheless, they were allowed to take other Ibbu jobs if they desired.
The story that preceded these terminations revealed that these experts who were supposed to earn through commissions on sales had to work for free by answering customer support. Ideally, Ibbu chats should only be exclusive to online shoppers interested in buying. Further, an official training document that experts receive (which bears Samsung and Ibbu logos) says, “do not answer customer service questions.” Nonetheless, the story claims that Ibbu and Samsung allegedly encourage the experts to try to turn customer service chats into sales. This gives the company a sales team with free customer service, experts said.
Ibbu explains that there were indeed some customer service-related inquiries that bypass their automated chatbox filters, which are intended to forward purchase requests to experts and exclude customer service inquiries. However, the staffing agency claimed that these requests amount to hardly 2.5% of the chats taken by the Ibbu experts. This figure is far from Larson’s estimate, who said it is closer to 25%. Other experts even claimed in the recent months that they could spend an entire shift getting nothing but customer service chats.
Further, customers may have no inkling that they are being routed to experts who have no training in customer support and are not paid to do it but were expected to do so. Failure to maintain customer satisfaction for handling these concerns could lead to an expert’s eventual termination. This means that the experts could earn bad ratings for doing free work.
Meanwhile, an unnamed spokesperson from Samsung insisted that it has no role in Ibbu’s employment, personnel and staffing decisions, and terminations because experts from Ibbu were not employed by Samsung.