After reviewing Telus’ handling of its government contract to establish and operate call centers in British Columbia for scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments, Press Progress obtained emails and employment documents proving that Telus had outsourced its tasks to CBV Collections, a debt collection agency in Burnaby.
Telus botched the rollout of BC’s vaccine walk-in program last month in spectacular fashion, with understaffed call centers and numerous technical difficulties. Despite its display of incompetence, the BC government chose to stay with Telus.
Telus then outsourced call center operations to CBV Collections, which did not do a better job. Two people who were hired by CBV Collections to staff their vaccine call centers told stories of disastrous facilities and poor training processes.
“It’s such a mess. I don’t even know how it’s authorized. It’s so disorganized, ”said one of the former workers. “This is all just kind of a mess.”
The former employee said Press Progress that they were hired on a $ 19 per hour, six month contract to make vaccine appointments over the phone in Fraser Health Region, and that the process of hiring and onboarding employees was contracted out to a recruitment agency called Aerotek.
The former employee in question said CBV Collections was disorganized and clearly out of its depth as they were locked away from the agency’s offices when they went to pick up equipment and were never given a phone number for contact call center supervisors in case of problems.
When they were allowed in they had a conversation with their supervisor which involved an apology from both sides and ended amicably, but after the next day of an eight hour paid training they were informed by Aerotek that their contract had been terminated due to the exchange they had with their supervisor.
“I saw in conversations people were saying like oh the system has been down for an hour, I can’t do anything,” the ex-employee said. The technical challenges were many, but the right support and training for new hires with little or no public health experience was not.
CBV President Bob Richards declined to confirm whether the agency was involved in the messy launch of Telus’ vaccine nominating program in British Columbia. “I honestly cannot comment on this,” he said.
Richards confirmed that CBV Collections had been in talks with Telus about outsourcing call center operations for vaccine reservations, and that FrontLine Group, described as a “division” of CBV Collections and which has left the same building in Burnaby, is involved in the program. .
A Telus spokesperson said Press Progress, the company relies on “the support of all of our team members, union and non-union, suppliers and other stakeholders to ensure that British Columbians can get vaccinated as soon as possible.”
The company added that contractors had been used due to “the temporary and intense surge in demand to meet our commitment to British Columbians for the immunization program while maintaining service levels for Telus customers. “.
Telus said they are now a week ahead of schedule for vaccine reservations, despite the initial setback in launching the call center in British Columbia.