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SUMMARY MEETING 31/10/06 AND 11/11/06

Line Sletvold, Team Leader MSPA, Arvato Services.

Erik Ribsskog, Contact Center Representative MSPA, Arvato Services.



On the ASDP (Arvato Services Development Program) - meeting we had 06/10/06, we were
discussing my scores on the different ASDP categories.

I got the best score on most of them, but on one of them I got a lower score than the best
score, because as you said, I was sometimes a bit stressed while taking the Danish calls.

I startet explaining that I could have been a bit stressed during the last months at work,
and that there were many different reasons for this. And that these reasons should be seen
as a whole to get the right picture of the whole situation. Its probably not enough to only
look at one of the reasons to explain this.

To explain this, one really had to explain all of the reasons that were contributing to this,
because it was a combination of reasons that caused this, and one really have to tell all
of them to make it possible to explain the whole picture.


In June the agents on the campaign recieved an email/quality brief saying that if we didnt ask
the customers for the product-key and/or we didnt ask the probing-questions when a customer
called to active, then we could face being subject to a development action plan, which could
result in disiplinary action (ie. getting fired), being taken against us.


Then, I think it must have been, on 14/06/06, we had a buzz-meeting with Ian.

There he said that we had recently recieved an email/quality brief where it said that we could
face disiplinary action/getting fired. But, he said, we shouldnt worry about this at all. What
was said in the email/quality brief wasnt something we needed to think about at all.

But why then was the quality brief issued if what it said wasnt relevant at all?

And the buzz-meeting was about call-time, why did he bring up the issue of the warnings in
the quality-brief?

Later in the meeting we got told that our campaign was the MSPA call-center equivalent of
Manchester City when it comes to call-time (we were at the bottom). This problem had to be
sorted, the call-time had to go down. He only wanted to hear solutions and no problems
regarding how to solve this. People having problems with doing this his way should instead
find something else to do than staying on the campaign.

The meeting ended with us getting told to find our own solutions, and ask eachother for advice
on how to get our call-time down.

Line: This is how Ian is on all the campaigns he is working on. When you know him then you
know that this is just the way he is.

Erik: But he was a new team-leader on the campaign, we didnt know him. Of course we took
what he said seriously.


So after the buzz-meeting, I changed the script to a way which I thought would get the call-
time down. And started taking calls after this new script. (This work is a bit tireing, because
when you are used with taking calls in a certain way for almost a year, then it gets a bit
exchausting when you start changing this).

After having taken calls after the new script for about three or four hours, Vivian starts saying
that we now are to start using a brand new script, newly developed by the team-leaders.

So then I have to start taking calls in a new way once again, only three or four hours after I
changed the script the first time.

I remember thinking that if the script had been presented on the buzz-meeting a few hours
earlier, then the situation would have been much less exhausting/caotic, because then we
would only have to change the script once.

Line: I hadnt got anything to do with the meeting, so cant say why the new script wasnt
presented on the meeting.


Then one or two days later, when Im still quite stressed after the buzz-meeting and working
with the new scripts, then suddently Vivian starts to complain about that Im on wrap-up to
long time between the calls.

So when my focus is on the new script (and reducing the call-time), then I start getting
complaints about breaking the new wrap-up rules (which says that the wrap-up time that
earlier could be up to 30 seconds, now only could be up to 5 seconds.)

I was not aware of this new rule. And cannot remember the rule being presented in any way
before I started getting complaints that I was breaking this rule.

And this was before we had been used to the new script. And the new wrap-up rule was not
presented on the buzz-meeting one or two days earlier, and neighter did one wait eighter, untill
the campaign had been used to the new script, to present the new rule.

The new rule was presented suddently, in the form of a complaint (of breaking the new rule),
inbetween the calls, while I was focusing on reducing the call-time and on learning the new

I remember that the way the new wrap-up rule was presenteted added quite a lot of stress to
the already stressed situation I was in at the moment, due to the new scripts and the focus
on the call-time.

Line: The campaign had a meeting about wrap-up. Maybe it was on one of your rest-days?
Erik: I remember the campaign having an ASDP-meeting about wrap-up beeing included in
the ASDP-scores, but this meeting was at a time about a couple of months later than this
time. I cant remember beeing presented with the new wrap-up rule at all before this happened.


After Vivian told me about the new wrap-up rule, Vivian and I had a meeting, where I explained
that I was used with it being a 30 second wrap-up limit, and that I would focus on that the limit
had been reduced, and work on gradually reducing my avarage wrap-up time in the forth-
comming days. We agreed that this was an ok aproach on how to sort this problem.

But the day after, it was like this meeting had never happened. It was the same complaint:
'Youre on wrap-up', being shouted at you if you had been on wrap-up more than 5 seconds.


Vivian continued to give orders to me while I was on the phone speaking with customers. This
happened on several occations. She gave orders in an agressive, impatient and, I thought,
impolite manner, that I remember I found stressing.

An example:

In the moment a call was finished, Vivian asks me a question in an agressive/threatening tone
that made it clear that see wanted an answer straight away.

So when the conversation with her was finished, then she looks on the display on my phone,
and sees that the phone is in wrap-up mode. Then she says: 'Im warning you about being on
wrap-up', in a very agressive/threatening way.

But the reason that I was on wrap-up, is that she interupted me in the same moment as the
phone-call ended, so that I didnt have any chance of getting time to log the call and put the
phone back in available mode.


Then some days later, Vivian overheard me taking a Danish call. She hears that Im not
taking the product-key when Im taking this call.

[Danish is a tricky language for Norwegians to speak. Danes have problem understanding
Norwegian. And its quite exhausting for Norwegians to try to speak Danish.

This is mostly because of the way the Danes speak the sounds in their language. The
sounds in Danish are spoken very different from how the sounds in Norwegians are spoken.

Its not comparable to Norwegian and Swedish. Swedish is spoken in a quite similar way
to Norwegian. Swedes and Norwegians understand eachother quite easily. Not so with
Danes and Norwegians or Danes and Swedes.]

When Vivian hears that Im not taking the product-key, then she rushes to where I sit, and
says 'Arent you taking the Danish product-keys?' I answer that Im not used to having to
take the product-key on the Danish calls (because of the language-problem). She says:
'You have to start taking the product-key on the Danish calls as well'.

Ive been working on the campaign for more than a year now, full-time. And during this time,
Ive been working a lot of overtime, and I havent been sick a single day. And have only had
a few days vacation when moving to a new appartment in July.

And because of the high turnover on the campaign etc., I think Im probably the person who
is most aware of the things that have happened on the campaign during the last year.

As far as I know, it has not been usual to take the product-key in general, and certainly
not usual for Norwegians taking the Danish calls to do this.

As far as I know, Norwegians taking only, or mostly Danish calls, have been looked at as
an 'emergency'-situation.

I remember once when two of the former team-leaders asked me if I could be 'the Dane'
that Day. (Because there werent any Danes working that day, because of sicknes etc.)

They explained that they knew that it was difficult for a Norwegian to be on the Danish line,
but they asked me in a polite way if I could do this anyhow.

And then, a bit later, when I asked one of the Danes for the product-key (while the team-
leaders were listening), I could see on the way they reacted that it was defenetly not usual
for Norwegians to do this.

Especially one of them, the one who had been working as a team-leader the longest, looked
very surprised by hearing a Norwegian taking the product-key on a Danish call. So it seemed
clear to me that this was something that was not usual to do, due to the generally
aknowledged language-problems.

Line: When I started here, I was told we had to ask for the product-key.

Erik: When I started here, I wasnt aware of the fact that we were supposed to ask for the
product-key untill a couple of months had past, and I was having my first call-acreditation.
I was then especially reminded by the team-leader, that I had to remember to ask for the
product-key. It seemed clear to me that the team-leader knew that I didnt use to ask for
the product-key, but that since this was a call-acreditation call, I was supposed to ask
for the product-key this time).


There have also been a lot of customers calling to activate, that has been very surprised
by the fact that they have to read the product-key to get to activate windows.

For instance, I remember a Swedish lady working in a computer-lab in southern Sweden,
being very surprised by having to read the product-key to activate.

She said that she had previously been calling about 20 or 30 times to activate, as a part
of her job. And she had never been asked to read the product-key before.

Another situation I remember, was when a Danish customer was speaking with Muhammed,
and Muhammed had to get me and take over the call. This was because the Dane had called
to activate more than 20 times, and had never been asked to read the product-key before.
The Dane thought that Mohammed was trying to trick the customer to tell him the product-
key (to use it illegaly or something like that). So the customer had to be calmed down.

Line: It could be that these customers has been speaking with the Scandinavian PA
department in Germany, and that this is the reason why they havent been asked for the

Erik: Well I find this very unlikely. The Scandinavian PA department in Germany have only
been operating since November/December last year, and Vivian have told me that our
PA department is the main Scandinavian PA department. I therefore find it very unlikely
that customers have been calling 20-30 times and only been speaking with the department
in Germany.

Line: There has been much sloppines involved regarding asking for the product-key.
I remember it being usual only to ask for the product-key when the team-leaders where within
hearing distance.


- First it was the quality brief with threats of disiplinary action being taken (eg. being fired),
if the agents didnt ask for the product-key (which wasnt usual).

- Then the buzz-meeting with the threats of having to quit the job if not doing the job excactly
like the managers wanted regarding call-time.

- Then the new script presented in the buzz-meeting.

- Then another script presented a few hours after the buzz-meeting.

- Then the new wrap-up rule which said that the maximum aloved wrap-up time was being
reduced from 30 secongs to 5 seconds. And this rule was, as far as I know, put into to
function without the campaign being informed.

- Then the new product-key situation, with Norwegian agents having to ask for the product-key
while taking the Danish calls. (This, as far as I know, almost never happend earlier. Firstly it
wasnt usual in general for agents to ask for the product-key. Secondly, the added language-
problems surrounding Danish calls being taken by Norwegians, led to that the product-key
being never, or almost never, asked for in these calls).

- And because of the cover-situation on the Scandinavian PA in Germany, there was in the
relevant months much more Danish calls than other calls. (Id say maybe 50-90 percent of the
calls where in Danish, varying a bit from day to day, depending on the cover-situation in

[Further explenation:

And because there were eighter only none or one Dane working at the campaign in these
and because Norwegians, in general, where the only non-Danish speakers having to take Danish

In general people from the different countries had to take calls in the following nordic languages:

Norwegians: Norwegian, Swedish and Danish.
Swedes: Swedish and Norwegian.

Danes: Danish.

Finns: Finish.

So when up to 90 percent of the calls were in Danish, and the only Dane was very often not
working the same shift. And I was the only Norweigan working full-time taking calls. This resulted
in the workload on me being often much heavier than on the others. Because I got most calls,
since my login was taking three languages, and because I had to take most of these calls in

(This issue was also brought up with on an Employee Forum Meeting with the Managing Director.
But nothing was done about it. The problem only got worse, since the only other Norwegian
speaker working full-time taking calls left a few weeks after this meeting. (See enclosed summary
from the Employee Forum Meeting, 23/05/06)).

Danish is spoken very different than Norwegian. Resulting in misunderstandings etc. Many Danes
dont understand Norwegian at all. When you speak to them in Norwegian they often say that they
dont understand Swedish. And its almost imposible for Norwegians to speak Danish, because
it is spoken in a way that you have to live in Denmark for many years to learn.

Wikipedia says this about this subject:

"Generally, speakers of the three Scandinavian languages (Danish, Norwegian and Swedish) can
read each other's languages without great difficulty. This holds especially true of Danish and
Norwegian. The primary obstacles to mutual comprehension are differences in pronunciation.
Danish speakers generally do not understand Norwegian as well as the extremely similar written
norms would lead one to expect. Some Norwegians also have problems understanding Danish,
but according to a recent scientific investigation Norwegians are better at understanding both
Danish and Swedish than the Danes and Swedes are at understanding Norwegian.[1]
Nonetheless, Danish is widely reported to be the most incomprehensible language of the three.

In general, Danes and Norwegians will fluently understand the other language with only a little

Further from the same link:

"The difference in pronunciation between Norwegian and Danish is much more striking than the
difference between Norwegian and Swedish. Although written Norwegian is very similar to
spoken Norwegian more closely resembles Swedish.

The Danish pronunciation is typically described as 'softer', which in this case refers mostly to the
frequent approximants corresponding to Norwegian and historical plosives in some positions in
the word (especially the pronunciation of the letters d and g), as well as the realisation of r as a
uvular or even pharyngeal approximant in Danish as opposed to the Norwegian alveolar trills or
uvular trills/fricatives."

Standard_Danish, 10/01/07, 19:04.)

Even so, it was expected of me that I should take these Danish calls, now also asking for and
reading back the product-key, in the same time as eg. Finns used taking Finish calls, Danes
used taking Danish calls, and Swedes used taking mostly Swedish calls.
Each persons average call-time was each day ranked and put on a big board, and also e-mailed
to the campaign.

And I had in the back of my mind that if the call-time wasnt reduced to the time-limit mentioned
in the buzz-meeting, then management would probably think that I wasnt working on the task of
trying to solve the problem with the call-time the way they wanted. (with the threats that were
given regarding this).

Also, since I have studied computers, and have built some computers myself and having general
computer-knowledge, and in adition also have worked with customer-support and being used
with the importance of giving proper customer-support. I often got transfered difficult calls that
the other agents didnt know how to solve.

Since I had been working on the campaign longer than most of the other agents, and was used
to use 'active listening', to find out if there were some breaching of Microsoft activation rules
regarding this activation.

And since I was used to working with customer-support from my earlier jobs, I maybe used
longer time than average on finding information helping the customer etc., this lead to the
calls taking longer time.

And also using 'active listening' like we had been thought earlier, and also helping the customer
finding information, explaining rules in detail, and getting the difficult calls transfered from other
agents, led to me having to ask more questions in these calls than more regular calls.

So you could say that trying to do the job properly often resultet in the calls taking longer time,
and then you got a lower rank.

And also being Norwegian, having to take calls in three languages, with the other agents having
only to take calls in one or two nordic languages., led to you getting a heavier workload. This
heavier workload (especially the Danish calls), could lead to you getting more tired than an agent
taking fewer calls, and I remember that getting tired could lead to you not managing to take the
calls as fast as when you were rested.

Especially since the time we got to log the calls (and make ourselves ready for the next call), was
reduced from thirty to five seconds.

When I moved to a new apartment in July, I had before I did this spoken informaly with Line and
Vivian about me aplying for the vacant team-leader position, because I needed to earn more
money to pay for the higher rent for the new flat.

I have worked ten years as a manager earlier, and is one of the persons that has worked the
longest on the campaign, and knows the campaign best, so I didnt think it would be a problem
to start working as a team-leader (or at least get to work enough overtime to pay for the higher
rent). And in my informal conversation with Line and Vivian about this, in May it must have been,
it seemed to me by their answers that this wouldnt be a problem at all.

But since I had aplied for the team-leader position, I didnt really want to give a bad impression
to the managers, and me getting a low rank on the call-time board, I didnt think came to my
advantage when it came to my possibilities of getting the team-leader job.

And when the aplication-process for the team-leader job draged on for about three months,
without me or the campaign getting any feedback, this also added to the stress.

And because of me not getting the team-leader job, I had to work overtime to cover the rent,
and this also led to me getting more tired (because the workload in the job became more and
more heavy), and when I had to work overtime, the workload became even heavier.

Also I have to admit that it wasnt often I heard the other agents asking for the product-key,
even after the new quality brief.

Firstly I was almost always on the phone taking calls, so it wasnt often I could hear the other
agents, how they took the calls.

But when I sometimes did hear them, I cant honestly say that I often heard them asking for or
reading back the product-key. So it could be that noone, or almost noone, actually did this,
except for me, but I didnt have access to listening to the recordings of the other agents' calls,
so its difficult for me to say excactly how usual this was.

I was applying for team-leader so I didnt want to give a bad impression. Ive also been used to
having some pride in doing my job properly, and I also think that the way the job-description
says you should do the job, shouldnt vary from the way you are expected by the managers
to do you job.

This should be clear. It shouldnt be in a way that it says in the quality brief etc. that you are
to ask for the product-key, when this really isnt expected by the managers. Because then
this could be used as a way of getting contol of the campaign etc. Like eg. if everyone knows
that its very tireing to ask for the product-key in each call, and imposible to reach the call-
time target if you do it. And it anyway says in the quality brief etc. that if you dont ask for
the product-key, then you could face diciplinary action (eg. getting fired).

This is my impression of how the situation was on the campaign. That the general
expectations to how an agent was supposed to do ones job, wasnt the same as what the
formal job-instruction/quality brief said regarding this. It seems to me that the managers used
this method/hidden agenda, to take control of the campaign, firering who they want, or at least
puting fear of getting fired into the employees, giving them bad concience about this etc.

I dont know excactly who made it to be this way, or why, but this is how it seems to me that
the situation was, and it certainly added to the stress.

Another thing that comes to mind is that I didnt know what our main goal with the job was.

I remember working in a grocery-store in Oslo some years ago, and there on an employee-
meeting we were told that the stores main goal, which everyone should work to acheive,
was to get more, and more satisfied customers.

On MSPA I thought it was hard figuring out what was the most important part of the job.
Was it that the customers should be conent like in the grocery-store? Was the most
important thing to stop as many illigal activations as possible? Was it to have the lowest

If it had been clear what Arvato and/or Microsoft meant was the most important aspect of
the job, then it would be easier for the agents/me to know which part of the job I should
put most empesis on.

I understand that all the things I mentioned are important, but it doesnt make any sense to
say that all are equally important. It should be clear that this part of the job is the most
important. If not, then you could get complaints for not putting enough effort into one part
of the job, and then you couldnt say its because you thought something else was more
important. Because then you would get the answer that this part is very important.
So when the managers says that all parts of the job are very important, then it makes the
job more stressful, and Id say impossible to do a god job. Its much easier if the
organisation has got a clear goal that everyone agrees on is the most important to work
against. Because then if you got complaints you could answer that you could explain that
since this part of the job is especially important, you chose to put more priority on this
part in the particular phone-call.

On the campaign it seemed like everything was very important. Customers were very
important, call-time was very important, wrap-up was very important, stoping the
illigal activations was very important, logging was very important, break-times were
very important, and much more. It seemed like every little detail was very important.

I understand that many of these things really are very important, but it really doesnt make
any sence not to have a clear main-goal.

Im not sure if we didnt have a clear main-goal because of the manager not thinking about
this, or if it could also be that the managers liked to have it this way so that they could
complain all the time about small details etc. Because everytime you did a small detail
wrong, then you got complaints.

It could be that they wanted it to be a bit caotic like this, so it would be easy to find errors
employees made, and then they could eg. fire who they wanted, or make a person they
didnt want to work there so stressed that they had to find a new job.

I thought about brining this issue with the missing main-goal up with the team-leaders,
but there was so many other things going on, and from the team-leaders on the campaign
it was so much harassment (sexual and no-sexual), lying, threats, missing imformation
(like when team-leader Ian Wormwald quit the campaign, he worked a bit on our campaign
and a bit on the other campaigns at the end. But when he quit, our campaign wasnt
informed,so I kept sending the emails with the Service-Level competition results to him.
And then two or three weeks later, we got an e-mail complaining that we shouldnt send
emails to Ian Wormwald, because he had quit the campgain.)

This happened again and againg. No imformation about things like this whatsoever. And
when rules were changed, the campaign very often didnt get any information about the
new rule, until you suddently starting getting complaints about breaking a new rule you
hadnt been informed of.

Also the team-leaders didnt cooperate properly at all. When rules were changed etc, the
team-leaders hadnt first agreed on how to interperate the rules, but they interperatied the
rules differently (eg. the new break-rules etc.). They kept blaming eachother, and didnt
seem to have any understanding of that they were supposed to be co-worked, and agree
on how to interperate rules etc, before they actually interduced them.

So the situation on the campaign was so chaotic, and there were always so much going
on, like problems with getting the right overtime-pay, holidays, interflex, shift-plan,
problem with unclear activation-rules, new rules like new break-rules, the harassment
and threats etc.

So I never actually got so far as to bring up the question about the main goal. And if I
did Im afraid I would just have got told a lye, or being harassed, or just getting a reply
that meant your job would become even more stressful, like when I had to start asking
for and reading back the Danish product-keys etc.

And I have documentation that shows that all of these things (many occurances of sexual
and no-sexual harassment, lies and threats from team-leaders and senior team-leaders,
and also some from other employees)

The campaign didnt use to be this bad, the situation started to be worse around June/July,
and then gradually became worse and worse.

I was a bit slow starting to addresing all of these issues (I adressed some, but I had just
recently been transfered to an Arvato contract, instead of an Randstad contract in the
end of June, and I wasnt used to how problems like these were usually dealt with in
England, so I needed some time to learn what the things in the employee-handbook
meant etc. And the situation at work created so much stress, so it wasnt easy finding
the extra energy to learn and deal with this. I also had aplied for team-leader, and I didnt
want the process of dealing with these problems become mixed-up with or interfere
with the team-leader appliction, because I really needed to get a higher salary.
Because I really had to move to a safer place than the one I first had lived in, because
Ive been having problems with org. criminals. Problems which were non of my foult, and
which I have reported to the police. But the new apartment was much more expensive,
so I needed to get a higher salary.

I didnt think the team-leader application process would go on for almost three months.
And I also decided when the situation on the campaign got worse, and the team-leader
issue didnt get solved, that I had to start adressing more of the problems on the campaign,
so I started having meetings with the team-leaders adressing the problems.

I wasnt really sure how to deal with the more serious problems, like the sexual and non-
sexual harassment, lies and threats from the managers, because I thought much of
this was very sensitive, and if I adressed some of these things in a wrong way, I was
afraid I could loose my job. (And I was only on a renewable three-month contract anyway,
so it seemed a bit risky complaining to much. I needed a new contract when I applied
for the flat, thats why I switched from Randstad to Arvato, because the estate agency
wouldnt accept the Randstad-contract, since it was only a temperarely contract.

But the campaign got informed around May/June that we could switch to Arvato-contracts.

I was under the impression from speaking with team-leaders etc. that the Arvato-contracts
were permanent contracts, like the estate agency wanted.

But when we got the new contract, it was only a three month contract. I complained to my
line-manager, and she said it was like this for all, and that the next contract would be a
permanent one (after the first three months). When the next contract came, it was still
a three month one, and when I complained again I was told by my line-manager that we
were only going to get contracts like this.

It was around the time I switched from Randstad to Arvato (19/06/06), that I suddently
started noticing more and more being porly treated by the managers. Im not sure if these
could be connected, but it certainly could fit in with the other things that happened.

The problems with the quality brief, threats on the buzz-meating, focus on the call-time
etc., started right after four of the team-leaders and key-employees on the campaign
switched from Randstad/Gap to Arvato.

After the switch to Arvato, there also started to be much more problems when it came to
things that had to to with other departments etc. Problems with not being paid overtime,
problems with shift-plans not having the right amount of rest-days, problems with the
start and end-time on some of the shifts on the shift-plan suddently becoming more and
more peculiar, and more.
Regarding the team-leader application-process, it seemed to me a bit unprofessional for
a big company like Arvato to let the process drag out for about three months, without
the campaign getting any feedback.

To me it seems a bit peculiar that such a big organisation should deal with this situation
in such an unprofessional manner.

Its described more about what happened regarding this under the section called 'Team-
leader application'.]

- And Vivians aggressive and impatient/impolite behaviour at the time, also added to the stress.
The way she interupted the phone-calls with the customers, and the way she complained in
a threatening manner.

It seems to me that this type of behaviour was more directed at me than towards the other
agents, but I also remember her behaving like this towards other agents. For instance I
remember when one agent went from her chair towards the short-call tracking forms (close
to where Vivian sat), to pick up a new form. And the reaction from Vivian was to say in an
agressive way: 'What are you doing?'. The agent didnt answer anything, she just went back
to her chair, as far as I remember, without picking up any form.


I thought with myself that I had to get in a dialog with the team-leaders (especially Vivian, which
I found it stressing co-working with), in an effort to try to sort some of these problems. Since
the problems just got worse and worse, and didnt think it was possible for me to manage to
continue in the job if something wasnt done regarding sorting these problems.

I wasnt sure about how to deal with the problems like the ones mentioned on the campaign,
but I thought that if I knew that we agreed on some basic rules as to how people should
co-work on the campaign, then it would be easier for me to do a better and more
constructive job on the campaign, and also easier for me to try to find a solution for the
problems, like the ones that very making me (very) stressed.

I remember from working as a store-manager in Norway, that we from our training learned that
every person working in an organisation were important, and had the right to be treated in a
respectful, polite, decent and (preferably) nice way.

I read a bit about the Arvato policy and the Bertesmann essentials about this, and I found them
to be in line with what we learned about this in the organisation I worked with for many years
in Norway. (Rimi/Hakon-gruppen now Ica-gruppen).

So on the date 12/09/06, Vivian and I had a meeting regarding this. (Line and I had a similar
meeting 28/09/06, where we two also found that we both agreed on the fact that these
principles were an important part of the platform on which we could base the way we co-
operated on the campaign).

Vivian agreed with me that all people in an organisation had the right to be treated in a
respectful, polite and decent manner.

I also explained that I found it stressing when she interupted me while I was speaking with
the customers or logging the calls. She understood this, and promised to wait till the
conversation with the customer was finished before starting to talk or give orders.
I also brought up the situation with the wrap-up meeting we had some weeks earlier, where
we agreed on that I would work on gradually bettering the wrap-up time, but that she then
forgot this agreement, and the next day acted like this meeting hadnt been taking place
at all, and continued to shout 'You're on wrap-up' if the wrap-up time exceeded 5 seconds.

Vivian explained that this was call reinforcement, and that the team-leaders were trained
to use reinforcement as a way of solving problems, like the problem with agents being
to long time on wrap-up between the calls. So she wouldnt stop doing this, because she
had been trained to do her job this way.


I hadnt heard about reinforcement on the management/organisation modules I had studied on
upper secondary and university-level, and neighter had I heard about it on the management-
courses I had participated on while I was working as a manager in Norway.

So when I got home on the day we had the meeting, I searched for 'reinforcement' on the
internet. I found from how Vivian described it in the meeting, that this way of sorting
problems was called 'negative reinforcement'.

I couldnt find very much on how this was being used in management, but from what I found
it seemed like it was more used as a way of training dogs, and that it was known to make
the dogs nervous.

Line says that they were told to do it this way, because if they did it this way, then the agents
would do the job the way the team-leaders wanted.


After reading about negative reinforcement on the internet, I was wondering if this could be
in line with Arvato Policy and Bertelsmann Essentials.

There were also other things I was wondering if were in line with these, eg. the threats on the
buzz-meeting, the interuptions by team-leaders while agents were on the phone speaking
with customers, and agressive/threatening behavior in general by team-leaders.

I was also wondering if these things were in line with what we agreed on the meetings
12/09/06 and 29/09/06 that all people in the organisation had the right to be treated
in a repectful, polite and decent manner.


When I was looking for information regarding how the system with the new ASDP-
(Arvato Services Development Program) program was working, I read in a summary
from an Employee Forum meeting in May where some of the employees had asked
the Managing Director how it could be that the Bertelsmann Essentials didnt seem
to be in any way related to us in Liverpool.

Im not sure if I understood this right, but the Managing Director replied that the Bertelsmann
Essentials are new, and that HR and the Ops. (meaning team-leaders/Senior team-
leaders?), would implement the Bertelsmann Essentials in the company and relating
them to us.
Line says that she havent heard anything about this.

Well, my meaning, is that if you take a task seriously, then, when you get a new important
task/project that is going to be implementet in the organisation, then you should take
responsibility yourself for getting the system up and running.

And you should make sure that the system is up and running satisfactory, then you can
delegate the responsibility for the task.

At least this is how we used to do it when I was working with management in Norway.

So I dont know if this could be a sign of the Bertelsmann Essentials not being taken
seriously enough? (That we havent heard anything about them, and that the responsiblily
for the Bertelsmann Essentials have been delegated before the Essentials have been

And also the posters with the Essentials on them, why are the posters hanging on the
wall if the Essentials arent implemented? Are the posters hanging there just to impress
visiting clients, so that they will be asured that these things are being taken seriously?

Is it right for the posters with the Essentials on them to be hanging on the wall, when
the Essentials arent implemented yet?

Its possible that Ive misunderstood, so I take a precausion in case I might have
misunderstood something surounding this.


This is a quite recent example that happened after the ASDP-meeting [06/10/06]. Most of
the things Ive been mentioning so far, is a more thorow explanation of the things that I
started explaining about on the ASDP-meeting.

I hadnt prepared to explain about these things on the ASDP-meeting, and we didnt get
finished (because of time-problems), so when this episode happened on 26/10, I deceded
to prepare more thorowly this time, and try to explain better this time.

[Because when you asked why I was stressed while taking the Danish calls, I mentioned
a lot of the same things that Im mentioning on this meeting. But on the ASDP-
meeting [since I hadnt prepared to explain about these things], I forgot to mention for
instance about the buzz-meeting etc.

So in the ASDP-meeting, I didnt manage to make it clear why I was being stressed about
the call-time.

But after remembering what was said in the buzz-meeting, it seemed clearer to me why
I was so focused about reducing the call-time.

So this is the reason on why I thought it was best to explain it all from the beginning in
this meeting].

What happened on the 26/10 was firstly this:

Im sitting transfering a call to Vivian Morris. Vivian S. shouts from the other end of the
campaign-table, 'Why are you transfering the call'.
Then she explains there is a new rule now:

Agents should no longer transfer calls to other agents. Agents should transfer calls to
the team-leader, and then the team-leader should transfer the call to the other agent.

This rule was new to me. And the way this new rule was presented, (By interuption, and
by screaming across the table), I dont think is in line what we agreed on, on the
meeting 13/9, where we agreed on employees having the right to be treated polite,
respectfully and decent etc.

Line says that this rule is also new to her.

Later, on the same day:

In the same moment as Ive ended a call, Vivian starts talking to me. I nods my head (towards
the computer) and mumbles someting, trying to explain, by this, something like 'One moment
please, Ill just log the call, because then I wont forget to log, and I also wont forget which
call-type the call should be logged like'.

She dont wait, she just continues: 'Why dont you log the call while youre talking with the
customer on the phone?' (She asks this while Im still loging.)

And I explain, although Im a bit dizzy by being talk to while trying not to forget how to log the
call correctly, that the reason why Im not loging the call while Im still talking with the customer,
is that I focus on ending the call in an apropriate manner. I think its important how you end the
call, so I try to concentrate on this.

[I think that if I should log the call while Im ending the call, then I would be distracted, because
you have to find the right gruop to log the call as etc, and then you have to consentrate on this,
and then the conversation with the customer could suffer because of this, leading to the customer
getting a less good impression on the level of customer-support the customer is recieving].

Then she says: 'During the last days, your logging percentage has fallen', in a tone demaning an

Im still quite dizzy because of the logging and the sprining conversation at the same time, so I
cant think of something else to say but:

'Maybe its because Ive been a bit tired the last days'.

Then she says: 'Its important that a person does his job', and finishes the conversation. She says
this in a tone I find threatening.

Its like shes saying that Im not doing my job, and that this is unaceptable, and the threatening
way she says it, and then just leaves, makes me think that she maybe wants to report me for
not doing my job or something like that, because she sounds angry and threatening when she
says it.

Because Ive been working with grocery-store work, office-work, driver-work etc., since I was 18.
So thats 18 years. So I know that a person should to his job. So when shes saying an obvious
thing like that, in a tone like that, I take it as a threat.

Its like shes saying: 'This we cant accept, weve got to do something about this'. [Or, we cant
have people working here whos not doing their job]. This is how I interpret what she says, and
the way shes saying it.
So after this episode, I decided that I would try to explain the reason for why Im being stressed
more thorowly, because this would also give me a chance to bring up different things that
have happened on the campaign during the last months.

Since Im feeling threatened, and I think that bringing up these things, could help show that I
really have had reasons for being stressed, and also could help sheed light on other things
that have been going on.

This could also help me avoid a future situation, where Im for instance being accused of
this or that, or being reported, eg. by a team-leader (like I fear could happen, because Ive
been feeling threatened by Vivian).

Then I could end up in a position where I start explaining that this has happend and
If i at that point start explaining about this happened then and is connected to something
else that happened at another time, then I could be met with the answer: 'Why havent you
brought this up earlier?'.

[Many of these things Ive brought up before in other meetings etc. And other of these things
have come to mind while I have been preparing for this meeting.

And I consider myself to be hard-working and professional. I havent been absent one single
day since I started here. And I dont think it would be fair to me, if I should loose my job
because of a situation like this.

And to thorowly explain the situation about why Im being stressed, also raises the opertunity
to sheed light on other things that has been going on on the campaign.

But even so, all the things that Im describing here are in some degree participating factors
as to why I was being stressed while I was taking the Danish calls, so I think its
justifiable to include all of these things, since they are all part of the bigger picture.]

It says in the employee manual that its harassment if a person with power is acting
threatening. And I think this is right. A manager has a special responsibility to not act
threatening/agressive. Because if a manager acts this way towards you, then its
being percieved as worse than if an agents acts this way towards you, because the
manager is in a position in which he/she has got power over you.

(The manager has got influence in diciplinary cases. He/she has got influence in situations
that could end up with you getting fired etc.)

Line agrees on this, that a teamleader has got more responsibility not to act threatening.

Erik says that sometimes it seems like shes after me for some reason, like the way she
complains about me, the she brings up many things very fast, one subject after the
other, with it being difficult to follow the flow of different subject. And also that she often
brings up things inbetween calls, when Im being focused on other things, and also when
shes acting threatening and agressive.

It seems like shes sometimes doing these things to punish me for other things, maybe
something that Ive said that she didnt like, or something I did that she didnt like.

I cant garantee that it is like this, but this is the way it seems to me.

Erik says that he is not used with the expression harassment, and dont know exacltly
what it covers, so he'll try to contact core care, to see if they can help with this problem.
Line says that Erik could talk with HR or Senior team-leader about this.

Erik says that he wants to speak with core care regarding this issue and also regarding
other harassment issues on the campaign.

Some of these issues are quite sensible, and Im not sure on how to present them, so
I would like to get some advice on this, before I bring them up with Line and/or HR,
Senior team-leader.

Line says that shes going to try to learn more about harassment herselves.

Erik is going to contact core care, and try to set up a meeting with them.

After the meeting with core care, Line and Erik will have a new meeting about
these issues.

(One hour has passed, so even if there are more things on the agenda, the meeting
will have to be finished on a later date.)


EPISODE 05/11/06

On 05/11 there was a new episode with Vivian. What happened was first was an
arugement where Vivian complained that I wasnt wearing the headphones while
I was on the phone.

The reason I wasnt wearing them was that the headphone-pads were lying in the my
folders with papers regarding work etc.

And these had been moved to a new place, and Vivian said shed get them while
I was logging on the computer and the phone.

My point was that I always wear the headphones while on work, and this was
just an exception while I was waiting a few seconds for the folders.

Line says that in situations like this, its important that the team-leader give the
agent feedback about the breach of company-rules. It doesnt matter if its an
exception and if it only is for a few seconds.

My other point was that it seemed like she was complaining about this, and also
asked about other things, at the same time that I was logging on the computer
and the phone, and trying to do this in time before the shift starts at 12.00, to
make me stressed or get out of balance.

[Because there had been so much problems on the campaign the last months, Ive
started a daily routine which is that I every day when the shift starts, bring three
short-call tracking forms with me to my workstation.

The first one I use to log the short- (and lately also the long-) calls, the second I
use to scrible different information the customer tells me during the call, eg.
what producer it was that produced the different computers if the customer has
windows on more than one computer, to keep track of them, so that its easier
to explain the activation-rules to the customer. The third form/sheet of paper,
I use to write down the different problems/harrasment/etc, that happens on the
campaign that day.]

I still have the 'problem'-sheet for that day (05/11), and it says:

- 11.59: Vivian is asking 'Who won the Service-level competiton this week?'

- I said: 'Have you sent me an email with the service-level result yet?'.

- Vivian says: 'But the service-level result is to be found in "something" (didnt hear
excactly what she said) - report'.

[This report was a new report, that she had sent for the first time eighter earlier that
day, or the day before (which was my rest-day), yet she mentioned this report like
something I should be aware of, even if my shift hadnt really started this day, and
we had never been sent this report before.]

- I must have answered that I have to look at the service-level competiton-form which
is in my folder, which I couldnt find because someone had moved them.

- Then Vivian must have said that the folders had been moved to a place in the window
on the other side of the campaign-table, and that she would fetch them.

- I continued to log on the phone and computer, but didnt put on the headphones, because
it was quiet, and the 'pads' for the headphones were in the folders which Vivian had already
gone to fetch (because she also usually move very quick), and then put the 'pads' on the
headphone, and then wear the headphones.

- 12.00. Vivian: 'Its important that one wears ones headphones'.

I started explaining that the 'pads' for the headphones were in the folder she was fetching,
but still insisted that I should wear the headphones without the 'pads' untill she got me
the folders, and then I should take the headphones off, and put on the 'pads'.

So since she was ordering me to do this, I did this.

But my point was that all this was going on while I was logging on to the computer and phone,
I was trying to get this done before 12.00, or else I could be reported if I didnt get logged on
in time.

And Vivian must have been aware of the fact that I was focused on login on, yet she had to
ask me about the service-level competition, try to ridicule me since I didnt know that
she had started to send a new report with the service-level in it. (a report that I only can
remember that she sent this week, I dont think before, and I dont think later).

And then start to complain about that I wasnt wearing the headphones, although it was only
for a few seconds while she was fetching the folders.

[So she must have understood that she acting like this, while I was hurrying to log on in time,
would make me more stressed. I cant understand it differently than that she was trying
to make me stressed/getting me out of balance on purpose.

Later it could seem like it was almost planned. It was on a Sunday, so it wasnt many other
managers there. And I had been putting the headphone-pads in the folder for quite some
time then, so its quite possible that she knew I kept them in the folder, and that she knew
that it was the pads I was waiting for, but said it to stress me/getting me out of balance.]

Then, later the same day, I got a peculiar phone-call from a customer that had been living in
Finland, spoke English, had later moved to Norway.

The customer spoke English, but it wasnt his first-language. His English wasnt that good,
and he didnt speak Norwegian.

I used to write the notes about the problems that day on the back-side of the short-call
tracking-form, and then log the short calls and long calls on a seperate short-call

But this day Id become so stressed by the way Vivian acted at the start of the shift, that
I had started logging the short/long calls on the same sheet of paper that I used to
write about the problems.

After I had written down the problems around the start of the shift, I must have turned the
sheet of paper (so that Vivian wouldnt see what Ive written), and then Id started to log
the short and long calls on the same sheet of paper.

So Ive still got the log-info I wrote from this peculiar call, it was:

Language: English [but he called from Norway, and at about 1.20 pm]

Minutes: 19.00

Reason for long call: Lang.prob. + prob. with finding out if the license was ok with eula +
customer wouldnt end call.

So this call took 19.00 minutes [an average call is supposed to take 3.00 mins], I remember
the customers English was not very good, so it was difficult to comunicate. And it was
very difficult to find out if the activation was ok or not.

Since the call went on for as long as 19 minutes, it was difficult at the end of the call, to
remeber excactly what the customer had been saying at the beginning of the call.

But as far as I remember, at the end of the call, the customer was saying that he had the
program on two computers, but the other computer he didnt use, he had left it in Finland,
where he had lived earlier.

I remember thinking that this call was a bit peculiar, because by his voice and the way
he spoke English, he sounded like he was from Africa I remember thinking, and he
didnt speak any Finish or Norwegian.

And I dont think I remember so much about people from other countries moving from
Finland to Norway, the usual I think would be from Finland to Sweden, or Sweden to Norway

I dont there are very many foreign people in Finland at all actually, if Ive read correctly in
the newspaper, the Finns have very strict rules for imigration.

But anyway, the customer wouldnt end the call, and the call was a tirering one, because
of the langauge-problems, the customer wouldnt end the call, but came up with more
and more things.

He had said that windows were on two computers, and thats why I wouldnt let him activate.
But then he said at the end of the call, that the other computer was in Finland, when I
said that he had to remove it from the other computer.

I thought it would be a bit inpolite to ask the customer to go to Finland to remove windows
from the computer, and then call back to activate on this computer. (like we usually
tell customers in these cases).

And the customer, i think, said it was a retail-version of windows, and these are aloved to
be transfered to a new computer.

So I thought that I should give the customer the benefit of the doubt, because of the
language problems, and of course I couldnt sit there argue with him all day, because
he wouldnt end the call.

And I had been under the impression, that in cases of doubt or in extra-ordinary cases,
we were aloved to use our own judgement, and maybe make exceptions, if the rules
in one particular case seemed unreasionable.

I thought it would seem unreasonable to ask the customer to go back to Finland to
remove windows from the other computer which he said he didnt use there. (From
what he said I understood he had it stored there or something, but didnt use it).

And also there were other customers calling to activate, and the customer wouldnt
hang up, so I thought it would be ok to activate, if the customer agreed to remove
it from the other computer later, so that I could go on with the other calls, and
since it was a case would it would seem unreasonable to ask the customer
to go to another country to remove windows, and also because of the language-

But then Vivian started interfering, she had been listening to the call, and started
to talk loud to me while I was speaking with the customer.

I hadnt asked Vivian for advice with this call, because of the episode that happened
on the 26/10 (explained earlier), and the other episodes, I tryed to work as
indipendant as possible, because I wanted the situation to calm down, so
I didnt want to do anything that could give her an excuse to start to act
threatening etc.

But she had been listening, so she interupted the call, said ordered me not to
activate the call, and she wouldnt speak with the customer when I asked if
she could talk with the customer herself to get the whole picture.

I thought it was a bit strange that she had been listening to the whole call for
19 minutes, but I just went on to take the other calls, but I wanted to bring
up these things, because in the first episode it seemed like she wanted
to make me stressed, and the last episode was in breach of what was
agreed in the meeting between Vivian and me on 12/09, where Vivian
agreed that she wouldnt interupt me when I was speaking in the phone,
but would wait till the call was finished.

So I was wondering if these things could be a provocation etc. into trying to
react in a way that could get me in problems, or that she might report them
etc, because to me it seemed (from the episode 26/10 etc.) that she was
after me, threatening me, trying to get me fired etc.

Line says that if the agent says something thats wrong, then the team-leader has to
tell the agent at once.

If the agent activates a product that he shouldnt have activated then its gross
misconduct, and the agent wouldnt want to get fired, so thats why the team-leaders
should interupt the calls.

If the team-leader hears something that sounds like its not like it should be, then
they have to interupt the call.

Erik says that we had agreed that the team-leader shouldnt interupt the calls, like
when I was working in the food-store, then we didnt interupt the chasiers while they
were serving the customers.

Line says that if an agent activates a program when its clear that he shouldnt, then
its gross misconduct, and the agents would rather get interupted than loose their job,
so she thinks its ok to interupt.

Erik wonders how the routine is supposed to be for team-leaders interupting the calls.

Line says she would have taped the agent on the shoulder, and asked the agent to
ask the customer to wait, and then explained to the agent what to say etc.

Erik says he has to think more about this.

[Line normally dont speak about things like gross misconduct etc. (because an
expression like gross misconduct isnt often in an English-speaking Norwegians
vocabulary). But she used the term like she knew exactly what it meant. Yet on the
meeting 31/10, she didnt know what other terms like harassment meant, so I recon
that shes probably been speaking with the other managers about this episode and
about gross misconduct.]


Erik says that in the light of the latest episodes involving problems with Vivian, hed tried
to write a list with the problems and with some more examples.

Line says that it takes much time to go through the same things again.

Erik says that when they are summarised up then it makes it easier to get it clear why
he finds the way she behaves threatening.

Erik goes quickly through the lists:


- Interupting while Im on the phone.

- Interupting while Im logging calls.

- Brings up many subjects very fast [often when youre occupied doing other work-tasks].
- Presents changes/new rules suddently, inbetween calls.

- Wants to teach me how to do my job all the time. [Even if Ive worked there longer]

- Dont pay any attention to agreements, like what we agreed in the meeting 12/9, that
team-leaders and agents should treat their colleages with respect and in a decent
and polite manner.

- Is picking, complaining, 'naging'. In Norwegian I think I would have called it 'mobbing' = bullying.
[And shes doing it all the time.]

- And Ive tryed to bring up most of these problems earlier, but it hasnt helped.

- Im trying to focus on my work, but is all the time being interupted by her wanting to controle
everything in detail.

- Shes acting agressive, impatient, [and threatening].


- In the moment a phone-call ends, she asks about something in an agressive tone, then
'Im warning you about being on wrap-up'.

Line says she thinks Vivian should have said 'Can you log meeting?' first.

- I says, 'One moment I'll just log this', and then she: 'Why dont you log during the calls?'
Me: 'Im concentrating about ending the call.' She: 'Your loggin havent been good the last
days'. Me: 'Ive been tired lately.' She: 'Its important to do ones job'.

- Shes sitting on the chair next to me, and then shes asking about help with maths
(excel). Shes listening to the calls, and starts 'naging' about the script ++. inbetween the
calls, I have move to another place [to get some peace].

- Im talking with Judith transfering a call, when she interupts, wants to know whats
happening. When Ive transfered the call, she says: 'You can go on available, you'.
[Like we always do after transfering a call], in an impolite way.

- Meeting about wrap-up that Vivian and me had right after the new scripts and wrap-up rule
was interduced:

We agreed in the meeting that I should keep in the back of my head that I should work on
gradually inproving the wrap-up time. I explained that I not used with this being an issue
at all, and that I was used with taking the calls etc. in rutinely way, so I would need some
time to adapt to the new changes. [Especially since we recently had also got the changes
with the new scripts, and the focus on the call-time etc, and I hadnt got used to this yet].

Yet, on the next day (and after), she continues to complain about the same thing, just like
the meeting the day before had never taken place.

- 'You have to ask for product-keys on the Danish calls'. I didnt know that this was usual at
all. Was she doing it to punish me or something?

- Rules are changing all the time. First we were to transfer calls ourself to technical support.
Then we were to transfer the calls to the TL, which would transfer them to Then
we were to try to transfer them for 2 minutes to and then transfer them to the
team-leader. And then we were also, according to Vivian 26/10, meant to transfer calls to
other agents instead to the TL, so that the TL could transfer to the other agent.

Line says that I didnt have to transfer this last type of calls to the TL but could transfer
these calls directly to the agent.

[There are also more examples. Eg. on 27/7, Vivian and I were having a conversation,
were I told her about the new pay-slip, and that I hadnt got paid for all the overtime
I had been working in my holiday. Vivian said that I should send an email to HR regarding
this, since she herself was busy writing a report.

Later in the conversation I asked her something, and then instead of answering, she started
complaining about me having an empty carrier-bag behind the computer, this being a health
and safety issue, and breach of company-rules.

So then at the end of the shift, when the other people at the campaign had left, I said to her
that I tought that team-leaders should be able to have a conversation in a proper manner.
She agreed to have this in mind. I wrote a note about this meeting in my organizer-book,
and also other notes on a sheet of paper when I got home, so thats why I still know the date.

(Althoug the meeting didnt help much, her behaviour just got worse, even if we also had a
meeting about this, and also about general behavior at work on 13/9).

Notes from 11/9: Talking to me while being on the phone. Asks if its a terminal-server call
in the midle of the call. It becomes stressing with interuptions and comanding. Shes
talking very fast. Shes talking more quiet with Maiken, and doesnt interupt her on the phone.

Notes from 12/9: Talks to me while Im on the phone. Asks if its a change product-key call.

Notes from 20/10: Talks to me while Im on the phone. Regarding a transfer to tech. support.]


[The first things I went throug on this meeting, about the episode 5/11, and the summary of
the problems Ive been having with Vivian, werent in the original notes I had for this meeting,
that I brought to the meeting 31/10.

But because of the incidents 5/11, I thought the situation had become worse in the
mean-time, and I knew that we were going to have this meeting quite soon after 5/11, so
I choose to also bring these things up on this meeting, because I thought these things
were further examples of bullying/harassment/provocations, and should be seen in
connection with the other incidents.

The next issues in the meeting are from the notes I brought to the meeting on 31/10:]


Inbetween the calls, Vivian says: 'There is a change in the script now. You cant say
"Welcome to Microsoft" any longer, youve got to say "Thanks for calling Microsoft"'.

This was only a few days after we had got the new script. [Were it said that we now
only has got to ask for the product-key in the calls in which the customer says that
its the first time he activates the program].
Why werent the new rules for the opening of the calls presented at the same time as
the other changes in rules were presented. [Instead of presenting the change inbetween
the calls].

Eighter this, or wait untill we had got used with the new script, and then present this
later, so that there isnt to much changes in a short periode of time?

Line says that we havent got to say 'Thanks for calling Microsoft'. As long as we
remember to be polite, include the word Microsoft and say your name, then its not
importent exactly how the welcome-greeting is worded.

Erik wonders if these things [about if you are following the script or not] arent supposed
to be brought up on ASDP-meetings (like the one we had on 06/10)?

Line says that agents could updated on these things inbetween ASDP meetings, but
she things updates should be done on meetings and not inbetween calls.

And then a bit later:

Vivian writes on a sheet of paper that is laying beside me [Ive been writing down quite
a few of the things that have been going on, and kept the notes of different things. Much
because Id long before this thought that it seemed like there could be more problems
ahead, and Ive learned in previous jobs that its important to be able to document if
there are problems etc. I went through the notes, and I found the sheet of paper that
she had written on.], in English, "System update Say it nex 2 calls.".

She writes this while Im on my last call before lunch, so since its my last call before
lunch, I dont nod to her to conferm this, because if i should start to explain that Im
on my lunch-break anyway [which she could have know by looking on the form], then
it would be to complicated to explain without interupting the call and talking.

Then I go to lunch, I remember Vivian was sitting in a meeting with Aidan. I try to
explain to her that Im on my lunch-break, and that this is the reason that I didnt nod
to her to confirm her written message.

I think i say 'Vivian' or something to get her attention, but she doesnt respond. I dont
want to be impolite and speak to loud and interupt while they are having the meeting,
so I just go and take my lunch-break.

Erik wonders how the agents are supposed to answer these written messages while
they are on the phone.

Line says that I was ok to go to lunch. Line will write Vivian an email, were shell write
that she thinks its better to talk with the agents than write a message, because then
its easier not to misunderstand.


Erik says that something similar happened earlier as well. This was also the last
conversation before the lunch-break.

Vivian writes 'Can you go on the finish line', and a log-in I think, while Im on the phone.

Then she disapears on a lunch-break, without checking the form, then she would have
seen that I was on a lunch-break.
[When she got back, and sat down, I logged off, and went over to speak with her,
then she said in an unpolite way: 'what do you want'. She almost said it in a way that
reminds a bit of the sound cats make when they want to warn/scare you, I dont
remember the English word.

I explained that I was meant to be having my lunch-break 40 minutes earlier. But that
because of that we were understaffed after 4pm (I remember I was the only agent
working the late-shift that day, many agents quit earlier in the automn, so we quite
often were understaffed around that time), Id try to only have a 20-30 minute break
(this must have been around 3.45 pm, I always write myself up on a 3 pm break
if noone else have written themselves on that time).

Vivian said that I shouldnt worry about it. I was back about 4.10 or 4.15 I think, and
then Vivian had got Nina to work overtime until I arrived, if I remember right. Nina didnt
say anything, she just went home.]

Line says that I should have just gone on the lunch-break.

Erik says that if I had done that, then there wouldnt have been any agents taking the
finish calls.

Line says that this isnt the agents responsibility, so they shouldnt think about that.

Erik says that of course, when you have worked a place quite long, then you try to act
responsible, and if you think the campaign is going to get lots of complaints etc, then
of course you try to avoid this. You wouldnt want the whole campaign to be moved to
another place, and then everybody would loose their job.


One of the reasons I thought it was strange that Vivian didnt look at the break-form, was
that I remembered a situation from when we were sitting at the 4th floor [I think it was
probably in July or August.]

Then, when my shift started, there wasnt any break-form ready. I think I worked the early
shift, and that Vivian was late.

[So then later, when it was my usual break-time, I explained to Vivian that I hadnt written
on the break-form, since it wasnt there at the beginning of the day, and asked if it was ok
that I went on my break. (This was probably at 12.00, since thats when I always used
to take my lunch-break when I worked the early shift, since the late-shift starts at 12.00.)

Vivian said that this was ok. I also asked if it was ok that I didnt write on the break-form,
because I was on my way out, and Id already told her that I was going for a break, so
I guessed that there wasnt much point in writing myself on the list. (On the other hand,
I thought that Vivian was a bit picking on agents sometimes, so I thought It would be
best to ask, so that she didnt complain later).

But I asked in a nice way, so I thought shed just be nice back and say that it was ok that
I didnt write myself on the list.]

Vivan said that I should go and write my name on the list, because then they got the overview.

[I didnt really think that me writing my name on the list would add much to her overview, since
she already knew that I was going for a break. (And if the agents writing themselves on the
list was so important, then why wasnt the list there at the beginning of the shift).

I remember I felt a bit embaresed and stupid, having to walk the extra way to the break-form,
past all the people, just to sign on the form,.when it already was agreed that I was having
my break then. So I thought she was just saying it to, I dont know, show that she was the
one in charge, or embares me or something like that.

But the room was full of people, who I think had heard the conversation, Vivian was always
sitting next to Judith, and in the corner, so it was difficult to speak with her without people

And once I asked Judith if Vivian was there or not (on the place next to her), and then Judith
got a bit insulted it seemed to me, and after this sometimes was just looking at me without
saying anything. So I didnt like to go close to where she sat to often, before I was certain
that she didnt bear a grudge towards me.

But with the room full of people, I didnt want to argue with the team-leader, so I signed the
form and went for my lunch-break.]

So I didnt get this episode, that she points out that the break-form helps her get the overview,
to go with the later two episodes where she didnt have the overview, even if she could just
have had a look on the break-form.


Because I hadnt recieved any answer to my team-leader application from 30/06/06, I tryed to
get a meeting with [Senior team-leader] Aidan, about what had been going on with the

On this meeting [06/10/06], I asked Aidan questions about why I hadnt got any answer on
the application, about why they hadnt written in the anoncement that it wasnt certain that
they actualy would employ someone.

About why neighter the campaign or the applicants had been given any feedback/update/
information about the application-process at all. Like no confirmation on that the application
was recieved, no answer to the application, no explenation to the campaign or the applicants
about why noone had been employeed in the position.

[During the application-process, which lastet from 30/06/06 untill September or October,
no information/update/feedback at all was given to the campaign or the applicants about what
was going on regarding the recruitment-process.

I had to ask my line-manager all the time to get to know what was going on, and everytime
I got a different answer, like 'Aidan is on holiday', 'They havent been given the applications
from HR yet' (and this was something like two months after the last application-date!),
'Its because there have been fewer calls than expected, they have to see how the amount
of calls will develop', etc.

I knew that the amount of calls would be higher again in September, because the summer-
holiday was finished etc, but when still nothing happened, I asked if I could speak with
the STL about this.]

Aidans answer was that these were good points [things like giving the applicants information,
and an answer to the application. To inform and keep the campaign updated, and to write
it in the anoncement if it isnt certain that they actually will employ someone], and he said
they would remember to do this next time.

At first I thought that this was ok, I wasnt used to speaking with the STL, and thought that
maybe Id gone a bit far asking for a meeting about this. [I wasnt sure about how things like
these were normally done in England, and didnt want to act out of line.]

But then I started to think more about it, and then I thought about it this way:

Like, Arvato is a big company, with many hundred employees, right?

So, they must have hired people very many times before, right?

So they shouldnt really need me to tell them how to do this. They really should know how
to go through an application-process in a proper manner from all the times theyve hired
people before.

[Only the Liverpool department of Arvato alone must have hired people more than a
thousand times (since there are many hundred employees, and also high turnover, and
often shifting campaigns), so recruiting people is something they really should know how
to do from before.]

So I thought more about this, and thought that maybe it was possible to find something
regarding this in the Employee Handbook.

In the Employee Handbook, it says that Arvato has got its own policy for recruiting
employees [Employee Handbook, Section 3.1.2, Recruitment Policy], and that its possible
to contact HR and get a copy of this policy [Employee Handbook, Section 3.1.2:
'.... Copies of the Recruitment Procedure are available from the Human Resourses
Department and should be adhered to on all occasions.'].

Erik: Since I dont think that the application-process has been conducted in a proper
manner, and since Im not sure that the process has been conducted in line with
Arvato policy, Id like to contact HR and ask to get a copy of the recruitment policy,
and see what it says.

Line says that then I should email eighter Sarah Rushby or Claire Singleton at HR.

Erik: Have HR got their old office back, the one they had before the fire?

Line explains where HR are now.


On the ASDP-meeting 06/10/06, among other things we also were talking about the rules
regarding what happened if an employee was one or two minuttes late.

I remember from working as a store-manager in Norway, that there it wasnt aloved for the
managers to change what the employees wrote on the sign-in form.

And because it isnt aloved in Norway, Im not sure if its ok in England for the company to
deduct 15 minutes of the employees salary if the employee is one minute late.

Erik: I thougth Id just add this also in this meeting, since Id decided to bring up all the
things that had been going on in this meeting. This isnt a big problem to me, but maybe
it should be checked up to see if this is in line with regulations etc.

Line says that this is company policy.


Regarding the situation with the breaks

[That it isnt aloved for an employee to take more than 40 minutes lunch-break. Because the
employee have got 60 minutes break-time on an ordinary shift. And since I moved to my new
appartment, I had problems with the new, higher rent, so I used to eat at home in the lunch-
break, because this was much less expensive.

So, regularly since July, and also earlier when I had to do earends in the lunch-break, I used
to take maybe 50 or 60 minute breaks in the lunch-break. And I almost never used to have
ten minutes breaks, because I dont smoke, and I didnt have any useful things to do in the
ten minute breaks.

Id usually eighter had a 30-60 minutes lunch-break, and then work 8-8.5 hours.

The way I did with the lunch-breaks, was that if I was working the early-shift, then I waited till
the late-shit had started at 12.00, before I went on a lunch-break.

And if i worked the late-shift, then I took my lunch-break at 3 pm, so that I would have finished
my break before 4. pm, when the early-shift went home.

From working as a store-manager in Norway, I knew the importance of fitting the lunch-breaks
in with the times that other employees were at work.

And if you did it this way, then youd allways have cover by the people working the other shift
during the breaks.

In the beginning I used to ask the team-leaders if it was ok if I had a 50 or 60 minutes lunch-
break instead of 40 minutes, as long as my daily break-time wasnt longer than 60 minutes,
and as long as I had the break on a time that it was cover on the campaign.

And I was always told was ok, and I got the impression that it wasnt even necessary to ask
about this, because it seemed to be usual for other employees also to do this, and it seemed
to me that they knew that I always made sure to take my breaks at a time when it was enough
cover on the campaign, so it seemed to me that the team-leaders thought that this was an ok
way to have the breaks. And it was also good for the daily running of the campaign in the
sence that I didnt have the 10 minute breaks, and then this should add at least a bit to the
campaign running smother.

But then suddently in September or October, when I had been having an about 50 minute
lunch-break, the team-leaders startet to complain about this, and say that I could get
diciplinary action taken against me if I did this.

Since I used to go home in the lunch break, and it took about ten minutes to walk home,
then it could be a bit stressing to to the lunch break in 40 minutes.

Because it also took some time to make the food, so then I would maybe only be left with
10 minutes to eat the food, so then it wouldnt be any time to relax and calm down in the
lunch-break, or if it was something else I had to do on the break it would be stressful.
And since we got more and more rules at work, then the work got more and more stressful,
and if the lunch-break also was going to be stressful, then really the whole shift was one
long periode filled with stress, without any time for calming down.

And the fact that the team-leaders hadnt sayd anything about me having lunch-breaks in
the way I explained regularly for 2 or 3 months after I moved house, and that I also had
been used to have lunch-breaks like these often earlier, without ever getting any negative
feedback, I took as it was ok to have lunch-breaks like these.

I also used to write on the lunch-break-form that I had lunch break from eg. 12.00-13.00.
On the form it said 12-12.40, but I changed it so it said 12.00-13.00.

And the first times I had breaks like these, I always asked the team-leaders, and later
I was sure that this was ok, so I only wrote it on the form so that everyone would know
this and get the overwiev.

But suddently this wasnt ok anymore, I wanted to continue having lunch-breaks like I
hade used to, so that I could maybe get to take important phone-calls in the break if I
had to, and also get a couple of minutes to calm down, so that I didnt have to stress
in the lunch-break every day to make it back in 40 minutes.

And I also remembered that this arrangement seemed to be ok with (at least the old)
team-leaders, so I meant to remember that this was more or less an agreement that
I could have breaks like these.

So I explained this, that by having more or less an agreement on this, and by writing
on the form every day, and by having had breaks like these regularly since I moved.
I meant that it exsisted a kind of agreement that I could have breaks like this, at least
when I had the breaks at a time when the other shift were still present at the campaign,
so that it wouldnt be any problems with covering the lines

But the team-leaders said that this wasnt ok, and they contacted STL Aidan, who said
that even if I had an agreement that this was ok before, then it wasnt ok any longer].

Regarding this, I think it sounds a bit strange that the new team-leaders/Arvato doesnt
have to pay regard to agreements/arangements that has been agreed/arranged with
the team-leaders that used to work on the campaign earlier.

Because I remember from working as a store-manager in Norway, and there it was clear
that you had to keep in mind, and pay regards to agreements that had been made by the
the earlier managers, because they had made these agreements on behalf of the
company, and then its like an agreement between the company and the employeers,
and then I dont think its right for new team-leaders not to pay any respect to this.

Line: I though we had already discussed this matter, if we never get finished discussing
a matter, then it will just be more and more things to discuss, and well never get to
and end of it. Ive said before that STL has said that agreements like these are to a
teamleaders discretion, and new team-leaders doesnt have to pay attention to what the
old team-leader have said.

Erik: Yeah, but I dont think that sounds right. For instance in Norway we have an
expression, sedvane, that means that if one have done one thing for a certain
amount of time, and noone has complained about this, then after a while it is to
late to complain about this, and then it should be ok to do this. We have to take
into acount principles like that.
Line: Well Ive also studied law in Norway, and these principles dont aply until it has
been many years, so its the principle that these decitions are to a team-leaders
discretion that aplies, agreements with old team-leaders dont aply.

Erik: Does this also aply to written agreements, becausenon-written agreements should
be just as binding as written agreements.

Line: Its also Arvato policy to have 40 minutes lunch-breaks and 2x10 minutes short-breaks.

Erik: But dont you think, that even if its Arvato policy, that if its an agreement that says
that we can arrange the breaks differently, then this agreement maybe should be paid
regards to even if it isnt Arvato policy?

Line: I Dont think so, its whats Arvato policy that counts, and also this is to a team-leaders

Erik: Well, Id like to try to find out more about how this is. How should we do in the mean-
time, I mean, because of the problems with it taking time to get through and from work,
then I sometimes am a bit late back from the break. I remember one time I was three
minutes late, and then you said it didnt matter, how many minutes can one be late back
before it matters?

Line: I think your acting responsible about this, when you start discussing about minutes
and continue to bring up the same discusions again and again.

Erik: Ive been trying to sort the matter with the breaks responsible the whole time I have
been working here. I always wait till the late shift arrives when Im working early before I
have the break, and I always make sure to finish the breake before the early shift leaves
when Im working late.

And it hasnt been any problems with this way of arranging the breaks at all.

And now I also have to take into consideration that I have a team-leader that seems to
be on my back, and acting threatening, and seems to want to get rid of me, so I wouldnt
want to give anyone any excuses to report me etc. if I get one or two minutes late
back from lunch because of this. [Because I was reported a couple of times in May/June
when there was problems with the bus and I was 2 minutes late one day, and then 4
minutes late another day. And even if Id then worked there for almost a year, and never
been late, sick or absent a single time before, this with me being 2 and 4 minutes
late was also reported to Randstad, who I was employed by then, and who brought this
up in a meeting, saying that they didnt expect this from me.

So because of this, I was concerned that it could also be reported if I was a couple
of minutes late back from lunch, and that this could maybe be used against me in
other ciromstances, and therefore I thought it would be better to get this clear,
considering the situation with all the strange things that were going on on the campaign,
the harrasment-situations, threats, etc, I didnt want to give anyone something that
could be used against me if I could avoid it.]

I remember you said that it was ok when I had a 43 minutes lunch-break, does this mean
that its also ok eg. to have a 45 minutes lunch-break, or what with a 50 minute lunch-
break if I havnt had the first ten minute break?

Line: Well if were going to have it that way then we say that 40 minutes is the limit.

Erik: Im not discussing this to be difficult, with the situation on the campgain with the
problems with the team-leader etc, I think that it isnt impossible that this could be an
issue, and then Id think it would be better to have it clear on how the rules are to be
interperated now, so that this isnt going to be a problem later.

Line: Ok, well say that a couple of minutes is ok then. Up to 42 minutes break is ok,
but not any longer.


On the ASDP meeting we had 06/10/06, then you said that there are two things in this
job that the agents do not have to think about/care about at all. This was the light
[on the phone, its eighter green, orange or red, depending on how many customers
that are waiting in the queue.

What she meant was that one should go through with the calls equally thorogh when
there are 20 customers in the queue as if there are no customers in the queue. The
agents shouldnt think about the problems with the customers having to wait in the
queue at all.]

And the agents should neighter care about/think about the call time.

When I said that one of the reasons that I had been stressed the following months, was
that I tryed to get the call-time down, then you said that agents shouldnt care about
the problem with getting the call-time down at all.

I didnt know what to say at the meeting then, because I hadnt prepared to talk about
this, like I have now.

So on the meeting then, it ended up with giving the impression that I had been stressed
because of working on the problem of reducing the call time, when there really wasnt
any need for me to be stressed by this.

But, when I before this meeting went more thorowly through what had been going on
on the campaign in the last months, and how this could have to contributed to me
being stressed, then I thought about for instance these things:

The buzz-meeting about the call-time, where it was threatened with the new Quality
Brief, that could led to one getting fired, and the threats about us having to do the
job the way the managers wanted (eg. reducing the call-time), if we wanted to
continue working on the campaign.

And also, the focus on the call-time, with it being written on the board every day,
ranked by who has got the lowest call-time.

And also, we get emails everyday, with feedback on our stats from the day before,
and these stats are always ranked by call-time, even if other stats should really
be considered more important. Eg. wrap-up time is included in the ASDP-program,
and has got its own ASDP-score, yet the reports are still ranked by the agents
call-time which arent in the ASDP-program [and which Line said on the meeting
06/10/06 that the agents shouldnt think about/worry about].

Line: Well, now since the new script [were the agents havent got to ask about the
product-key for all the calls any longer], call-time is also going to be included in
the ASDP-program, so now this isnt going to be problem any longer, after the
new script.
[I didnt go any further on this point, the point really being that she said on the
ASDP-meeting on 06/10/06, that thinking about the call-time wasnt a reason
for being stressed, because the call-time was something the agents didnt have
to think about/worry about at all.

While other team-leaders on the buzz-meeting in June, threatened us with that
we could get fired if we didnt solve the problem with the call-time the way the
managers wanted.

And the fact that it was a very big fucus on the call-time. All the time we got
emails about it. It was written ranked by average call-time on a big board,
with names, average call-time and different colours by if you had managed
to achive the call-time goal or not.

And also we every day got an email with info of our stats from the day before,
and these were ranked by, and largly focused on the call-time.

So I didnt get this to go with what she was saying on the meeing 06/10/06, that
the agents shouldnt worry about/be stressed about the call-time.

But we had almost argued on the point before, about the lunch-breaks, and
I was a bit tired this day from working much overtime etc, and I really thought
that my point about why I really brought this up would be quite clear, to get an
explanation about how she could say one thing in the ASDP-meeting, when its
quite clear with all the focus on the call-time and the threats in the buzz-meeting
etc. that this is not how this issue is being looked at in the campaign in general.
From what weve been presented we really should put effort towards and care
about reducing the call-time.

And the she said it in the ASDP-meeting, that there were two things the agents
shouldnt worry about in the job, the light and the call-time. She smiled in an almost
patronising way, in a way indivating that it should be obvious to everyone that these
were things that the agents didnt need to worry/care about.

So I thought that she should have understood that this was my point, and
that it was strange if she didnt understand my point. And if she did
understand my point, and still didnt coment on this point, then this was a bit
strange as well.

So this confused me a bit, so I wasnt sure on how to continue with this issue,
so I decided to just continue with the next point.]


On the meeting 06/10/06, we went through all the ASDP-scores, and I got 4/4 on
all of them except one I got 3/4 on, and another one I got 2/4 on.

The one I got 2/4 on again, was that to do with how you try to act responsible/try to lead
the other co-workers on the campaign?

Because if it was, then I think it must be a misunderstanding, because when Im working
on the campaign, I dont like to tell people all the time what to do, like some other agents
they all the time tell the other agents, now you should do this, and now you can do that.
But even if I dont act like that all the time, it doesnt mean that I dont act responsible and
care about the campaign running well.

Like if there arent any team-leaders on the campaign, then I always try to make sure that
eg. there is cover on all the lines, and if I work early, then before I go home I always make
sure that all the lines are covered by the people working the late shift. (eg. I tell Osman or
Eown to go on a TL-login if there isnt cover on the Finish lines).

And around Christmas last year, when the team-leaders where home on holiday, and the
temperarly English team-leader had quit Arvato before new year, and Judith got sick and
had to go to hospital, and all the other agents were eighter being on holiday for christmas
or new year, then I worked the shifts that noone else were working because of sicknes etc,
and worked extra on the other shifts that were very understaffed, and made sure that the
campaign still were running even if all the team-leaders were absent for different reasons.

So even if I dont tell people what to do all the time, it doesnt mean that I dont act
responsible, and I look after the campaign when there arent any team-leaders present,
even if I dont tell people what to do all the time.

Just to make sure that there arent any misunderstandings regarding this, and that a
misunderstanding like this could be the reason to why I havent been made team-leader
etc. [since I thought there had had to be something going on, since I thought the way
the team-leader recutation-process hadnt been conducted seemed a bit strange, so
I was trying to find out if there could eg. have been a misunderstanding surrounding this
that could have been causing me not getting the job.]

Line sayd that the ASDP-score hadnt got to do with this. It was an ASDP-score that
wasnt relevant for the campaign, so she used to give all the agents 2/4 on it.

She said that she had the impression that I acted responsible and did my job well,
and she had also got positive feedback regarding me from the other agents

[I also asked her on the ASDP-meeting 06/10/06 if it was anything surrounding
the ASDP-scores or how I did my job in general that she could see point at as
a reason of why I didnt get the team-leader job. And she said that she couldnt
see any reason for this.

That ASDP-meeting was on the same day, a few hours earlier, as the meeting with
STL Aidan about the problems surrounding the team-leader recruitment-process,
and I thought the process had been a bit strange. (With the campaign not being
given any feedback at all, with applicants not getting any answer on the applications,
and the process draging on for months without anything happening, and with me
being given different answers all the time when I asked the team-leaders why
nothing was happening.

I knew that my application was strong, since I had been working in management for
ten years in Norway, and because I had been working with customer-support, knew
the campaign well, know the Scandinavian languages, had studied computers,
had been having modules in management and organisation on universty-level, had been
having many management courses etc. from when I was working as a manager in one
of Norways bigest companies (Ica-gruppen formerly hakon-gruppen).

So when nothing happened with the recruitment-process, and no feedback at all was
given, I thought this was a bit peculiar, and I wondered what the reasons for this could be,
and if this could be that they for some reason didnt want to hire me in this posistion,
and I therefore tried a bit to find out what the reasons for that could be.
And the ASPD scores were good. I think they were 3.9/4 and 3.6/4 or something like
that. And those scores covered most parts on how I did my job, so it didnt seem like
it was the way I did the job that was the reason that I didnt get promoted.]

She said that the team-leaders hadnt got anything to do with the team-leader
recruitment at all, but that it was the STL and other people in the organisation that had
to do with this.

We agreed that I should contact core-care about the harassment-cases etc., and then
later, wed have a new meeting surrounding how these issues should be dealt with

We finished the meeting and went back to the campaign.

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