Tech’s favorite virtual call center is the gig economy gone too far

Arise Virtual Solutions says it isn’t a customer service company, exactly -- it’s a “platform.”


October 6, 2020

When you call customer service, you probably imagine that you’re talking to an employee sitting in a giant call center.

But these days, there’s a good chance the person on the other end is a solo contractor working out of her bedroom.

Airbnb, Disney, Comcast, AT&T, Amazon, Walgreens, and dozens of other big companies have turned over their customer service work to Arise Virtual Solutions — a gig platform that’s seen a huge jump in demand since the pandemic.

The pitch to companies is simple

Going with Arise is way cheaper than hiring your own employees.

The way Arise saves money is less appealing: The company shifts the costs of equipment and training onto its independent contractors — and charges them a fee to use its platform.

The company says its reps get to work for themselves

But according to a ProPublica report, Arise contractors are treated like W-2 employees, sans the benefits.

Arise contractors don’t get to schedule their own time, and are required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week. With charges and fees factored in, many also earn below minimum wage with no overtime eligibility.

Even by gig work standards, the company falls short: In private arbitration, judges have concluded that the company is an “elaborate construct” to avoid treating its workers as real employees.

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