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Alltel Unethical

Discussion in 'Alltel Forum' started by JGCampbell, May 20, 2006.

  1. JGCampbell

    JGCampbell New Member

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    Alltel has recently introduced plans that are competitive with other major carriers. These enhancements are largely due to the enlargement of their rural coverage area and a deal with Verizon networks. While many companies have good services or products they also mix these qualities with unethical practices and procedures. The following briefly state what this writer perceives as unethical and inappropriate business practices thus hindering a company like Alltel from truly being an organization of quality (which it self-proclaims).

    An Alltel employee on the middle executive level made a comment to several employees that the deal with Western Wireless (CellularOne) was not a merger it was a “buyout” and that customers who’s grandfathered plans fail to be compatible with Alltel’s network structure can either get new plans or deal with the issues they encounter. (this pertaining to conversion customers on local coverage maps from CellularOne getting roaming charges due to Alltel’s conversion of the tower systems in the customers area).

    Employees have been told by many trainers, managers and mid-level executives on several occasions that they can leave if they don’t like the way things are done. The fact that leadership must make ultimate decisions for the company is not an issue what is the issue is that the leadership and administration of Alltel view the company structure as entirely top down and there is almost no room for any comment, opinion or suggestion even if it involves improvement to the worker conditions and/or office efficiency.

    At our particular retail location requests for additional help have been made by two different managers (as one left over obvious frustrations) and the comment from above was that they would look into it. That has been over three months ago or more as of now (5/2006). Requests for blinds to cover the bank of windows in the office have been made several times and that too fell on deaf ears over three months ago even though the level of light in the background of the computer monitors easily causes headaches for the users by mid day. Essentially, any request made up is entirely ignored while top down decisions are enforced even when the enforcement is detrimental to the current flow and process. If an executive gets an idea that may make them look like a trooper for the corporation then they force it down the line without exceptions.

    The more notable issue comes recently as our store of four workers (currently overloaded to provide “quality” customer service) has been told we will now work three Saturdays in a row and there will be no lunch breaks on those Saturdays. That is from store management with backing from a district and regional level. Unfortunately in Texas there is no law which requires Alltel or any other employer to provide lunch breaks to employees (even for an 8 hour schedule which is what is arranged for Saturdays).

    Alltel has never enforced any set schedule for breaks either. Often the store runs with less than a minimal number of workers to perform all necessary tasks and lunches come at 3-5PM and breaks often not at all. Again, Texas has no law enforcing this so Alltel can mandate any type of schedule it wants and for workers who don’t like it, remember, we can leave anytime we don’t like the rules.

    We are told to follow a process which Alltel calls its Basic Level Of Customer Service which requires us to push data features on each and every customer in the door regardless of the length of the line of people who just need quick service for a bill payment or question. Recently additions are to ask every person if they have a notebook and present the details of our high speed internet. This may be a good feature but with lines out the door speed and efficiency in handling the essential matters and getting to the next person who has been waiting for an hour seems of greater importance. Also we are mandated to offer text messaging packages over the basic pay per use text feature and all this even if someone only wants to pay a quick bill and others are lined to the door with an hour wait. If we don’t follow these procedures we are threatened with termination even though we may provide great service and meet all needs of those who come to our desk. Its not a mater of helping the customer it is a matter of helping the company with the customers need placed a distant second.

    We have been told in mid month by executive levels that if we meet quota but fail to offer data and high speed internet to customers we can still be fired. If we offer the two features and miss our quota then we can still be written up for failure to meet quota and potentially still fired.

    Alltel is run by highly incompetent people who may have high degrees and know numbers but they have a complete disregard for human individuals and true service. Use the service if you wish and enjoy it if it serves your needs but be aware that when it touts it is a Fortune 500 company on its TV ads that means $ first and people second. People includes customers and employees.

    JG Campbell
     
  2. strunke

    strunke .:|Always Covered|:.
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    The first part are you talking about GSM and CDMA? The conversion process?

    Many companies are like this. It is too bad Alltel is. Especially one trying to grow like Alltel, the management has a very clear view of how things want to be done and they don't like to deviate from that. This can be good and a bad thing.

    That's corporate America....

    That's too bad that Texas doesn't have that law. I know that my work often requires me to work weekends after weekends including sundays. There isn't anything I can do about that unfortunately. I would try to get everyone together and speak with your boss about it if it truely is a problem for everyone. Possibly try to contact higher up, remember many things are just signed or approved without them really thinking about it. If you do this be very tactful.

    To be honest this has happened to me at every cell company I have been with. But maybe someone else who works for them maybe be able to confirm or dismiss me.

    What's the quota? Similar rules are in my job, but the requirements are not that extensive and you do get warning and time to bring it back to where it needs to be.

    Well, I can't speak to that. As far as giving the customers what they want they do a very good job. Employees I don't know.

    The company itself so far has been run very well money wise. With this new marketing campaign and offerings they have definately improved from the past. The future will tell how they do. I hope that things turn around for you and they start listening to their employees more. Remember that if you all voice a concern at once it will be listened to, and if it isn't you have a really crappy boss.
     
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  3. warewulf

    warewulf New Member

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    I'm not sure what your issue is with differentiating "merger" from "buyout" it sounds to me as though the company is setting expectations for you to be aware that Alltel did, in fact, 'purchase' Western Wireless, and Western Wireless branding and upper management (for the most part) are going to be going away.

    Some people do not adapt well to change, and it sounds like there is going to be a lot of changes made, I've worked for Alltel for 4 1/2 years, and a LOT has changed in that time within the company. I've been told to expect change, and if I don't like it (or can't deal with it) then the best choice for Alltel and myself would be to leave. -Fortunately I adapt well, and I welcome change- I don't like all of Alltel's policies, but I understand them, and I work to change them when I don't like them. I think you'd be suprised at what upper management is willing to listen to.

    It's true, a lot of decisions are going to be based on the numbers, but it's a balance of the numbers... employees, customers and dollars.. Alltel is a business, and if you don't understand that businesses are in business to make money, you shouldn't be on the sales floor.

    I understand your frustrations with lack of help, our store has recently gone through similar trials, but we were able to get more bodies, and I'm sure with time you will, too..

    As for your blinds situation.. Alltel wants customers to be able to see into the store. We have the same problem in our store now, and in the other stores that I've worked in it's a complicated issue. Your leasing agreement may not allow for blinds or tinted windows (I've had that issue before). I'm sure this also goes deeper than "we don't care about our workers" My experience is that Alltel DOES care.. but it takes time to approve the way that we show it...

    I've never been told that I can't take a lunch break. It's unfortunate that TX does not support you in this matter. Alltel call centers have strict lunch and break schedules (hated it...) but the retail stores don't even require you to clock in and out... (love it!) The only company I've ever worked for where my lunch was scheduled at the SAME TIME every day was the Army... I'd try a compromise by rotating a half hour lunch through the middle of the day (what's the difference when the store is packed?)

    Alltel wants you to go through the BLOCS process to let each of the customers know what our products are, and if they're interested, how to use them. Again, if you're not interested in selling, please keep in mind that your job in the store is in "retail sales." The entire BLOCS process can be completed for a customer making a payment while you are processing the payment with no time lost.. I do this on a daily basis with people that come in the store month after month after month and always decline my sales pitch. Think of it as making 'job-related conversation' while taking a payment.

    I used to resist change a bit, too... I like to be comfortably efficient in what I'm already doing as much as the next guy.. but change is inevitable in any company. I've seen only a handful of people leave over the BLOCS process, and most of them were voluntary seperations (one had the nads to tell his MAP that he would never shake a customer's hand... ) and most of the seperations over BLOCS were voluntary seps..

    I noticed that you put "quality" in quotes as if you feel that Alltel's customer service is not a quality service, if I am not mistaken, you, as a rep in the store, are primarily responsible for that. Keep in mind that customers who stand in line for an hour CHOSE to stand in line, and you shouldn't jilt anyone out of their time with a rep because you think all they really need is to pay the bill. I can't tell you how many cusotmers have thanked me for taking the time to look at their plan with them (despite the long line in the store).
     
  4. JGCampbell

    JGCampbell New Member

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    You make some good points and some which have already been proposed by management. Not sure which one to discuss first but quota might be a good one. The point of us being retail and in the business of selling is true yet to consider our store for a moment might shed light on what makes me frustrated with the quota and the long lines of people wanting service. Or to look at it another way, the people who create the long lines because they choose to remain and wait.

    Draw about a forty to sixty mile circle around our store and that is about the area we cover before another corporate retail location comes up. The rest in between are all dealers with Wal-Mart and Radio Shack included. Dealers have a 30 day policy that means after thirty days from sale they don’t have to touch the customers issue any longer and can send all matters directly to us (out on the loop). All dealer shops have to do is sell. People in line often tell others "hey if you just want to activate go to so-and-so and you don’t have to be in this line". One more out the door and yet we still have quota and all other customer service issues. They recently told us in a formal meeting to offer and sell or our job. Throws some confusion into the whole quota issue when you’re the only store handling issues for so many miles and they refuse to get more than 4 people.

    Figure four people in a store. Nine hours scheduled in the day. Out of nine hours in a shift four are used for lunches so now you have five hours with an actual four representatives. Of the four lunch hours you work with three people.

    Those who work Saturday take a day off during the week so three days you have three people. That leaves six hours with three workers and three hours with only two on the floor. We have not even considered breaks here because we usually don’t get breaks at all. Lunches are often not available for some representatives until about three and four in the afternoon.

    That was the argument we made for having a third person on Saturday is that now that third person will be off work on one weekday to compensate which leaves us short handed most of the time through the week. Another matter not mentioned is when sick days and vacation are taken. That makes a bad situation even worse.
    I have never worked in the store with more than four people and usually only three people max. Then customers wonder why there is such a long time to stand in line and get service.

    On the note of sales and BLOCS on a person who only wants to make a payment or other questions. I and others always considered the payment amount when a person comes in and I myself never did it just to get more money but simply to make sure the customer had the right plan to cover their usage and not receive excessive overage charges. Most of BLOCS is not unreasonable yet as we have stated to the upper line of management, we have sense and know many of the people and know when and went not to do certain things. Most have been in the store for at least two years and lived in the community longer. I understand the BLOCS process (Basic Level of Customer Service) but I don’t understand the Alltel micromanagement behind it. I think there is a business already called Microtel other wise it would fit perfectly. Its some sort of hotel I believe but they may not actually micromanage their operations as Alltel does 9just to be fair to that company).

    Alltel requires a tic sheet and reports three times a day to show what each rep does to people up the line. I often have to stop my work to tell how many tics I have marked on my sheet. We also have requirements to text message the same information at least once a day and sometimes twice. This is all info that will be in the system electronically and much of the info we text and send up is more of a rough estimate than exact as we are busy dealing with the long lines of people who have chosen to wait. Again customers do in fact choose to wait in the line for service in our office but that isn’t an excuse for making them wait longer.

    Neither do I feel I am doing them or others in line a disservice when I pick five minutes to just run out some quick bill payments and let them go out the door without detailing the full BLOCS process as mandated by Alltel.

    Cont...
     
  5. JGCampbell

    JGCampbell New Member

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    ...continued

    Blinds in the stores? I promise you that no person on a corporate level would have to wait even a week to get blinds in their office if they had the glare we get in our face while trying to read our computer screen and do our BLOCS. They would not go one day with headaches but would get blinds in right away. That is why I get upset. I know the person who owns our building and they don’t care if we have blinds or not. As for the customer looking in, looking in is about all they can do if the store is closed due to all the reps being out with migraines. I understand all the details you mentioned but let’s get real in that Alltel has the money to cover windows appropriately. It’s not a wine and gripe issue it is just one of the many issues where simple things are overlooked out of a lack a concern from those above.

    Buy out and mergers? It is perfectly acceptable to state that there was not a merger but a buyout however it is in my view not appropriate to make this type of comment in light of customers who have plans that no longer work due to the buyout. There are several who have local Cellular One Unlimited usage plans who get roaming charges in almost a quarter of the area that they should be covered in and all they can be told is they need to change to an Alltel plan. Unfortunately for them the Alltel plans don’t offer unlimited usage. They may cover more area but for those who don’t need or want coverage but rather their cheaper plan with greater minutes that is not acceptable, especially if they are still under their original contract for that plan from Cellular One.

    I again don’t want to sound rude in any statement I make as this is only a reply with my views.

    Reporting to higher up HR on many of the issues such as the lunch restriction on Saturday may be an option and it is actually one that I believe one rep took which will prove successful in the end. My complaint with that is that it should never even be an issue. If managers and district and regional executives cant see and determine this and other matters from the start then why are they in their position to begin with? A company like Alltel should have better minds in those positions as many issues are very clear cut and obvious to anyone regardless of education levels or titles and positions. It is not that we can’t report it to HR but that it should ever have to be done. That is the quality issue I think I am trying to point out on many areas.

    As for the handshake. I too have openly said I will not shake every person’s hand. I stated that for one there are some who actually have open sores or clearly open cuts on their hand. Not every other person but you run into several here and there. I will not shake those hands if it is apparent and my refusal is not to be rude but practically safe. It just isn’t appropriate to do and such a statement should not offend anyone. If it does I am sorry but some things are just to be safe. All reps know some people do hard work and bang their hands here and there.
    Forget the hand sanitizer they provided. Let those corporate people sanitize their own hands with it. If I had an open cut on my hand do you think customers would feel comfortable shaking it? Certainly not. Yet Alltel says this is no excuse. Sorry Alltel but it is and will be and legal grounds can be made for that particular case especially since we have been told the wonderful hand sanitizer cant be out on the sales floor. Again it is an example of the extreme level Alltel takes to force a single view.

    As to the last sentence I already have been told the rules are so strict due to the necessity of keeping uniformity and order. I know many people are ignorant and cant make logical decisions but if Alltel hires that many people into its stores then that is something for them to work out in their methods for hiring and to work out by saying “lets make overly stringent rules to compensate for our corporate incompetence in who and how we hire”. It is true that too much hands off approach is dangerous to stability but a little hands off goes a long way to success and efficiency.

    Lastly, a note concerning the attitude of the President of the South or Gulf Coast region. The president of the region came into our store before we ever were converted. He walked in and I had a customer, one girl was on break (yes we do get those sometimes) and another had to run to the restroom. We only had three representatives at that time which has been about typical for most of my time either as Cellular One or Alltel. That would mean that his handshake would just have to wait till one of the three was available which happened to be me (after I was done with the customer in front of me). He did receive his desired handshake and it was promptly done after my customer was served and finished.
    The president sent an email slamming our store and that he didn’t get a handshake in a prompt manner upon entering the store. Well the Alltel president should speak to HR about breaks and the opportunity for reps to use the toilet when they have an emergency or then again they could stand and shake his hand as they piss on themselves. Or a rep could walk off from a customer to shake his hand. I would have expected more form a person in such a position and at that point formed a view of where things were headed with Alltel with regards to micromanagement and obsession with control.
    Our store still had the red Cell One sign and was a month or two before any significant conversion. We were short handed and his only comment was he didn’t get a timely handshake. He may have said more in his email that was send out in a broad manner by the regional and district manager but that is the feedback that made it to us and that was all it took to turn me off to him and the company.

    To be clear, he got his handshake and it was probably five minutes after he come into the door and not more than five seconds after completion of my transaction. I am not aware that he ever asked one question about the situation in the store or what the other reps were doing (one on the toilet and one on break). He just made his snap judgment and that was it.

    Snap, I also made my judgment of him and his company. To that president I would say, next time, learn to take time.

    Again, sorry if I ramble or rant but that’s the view.
     
  6. warewulf

    warewulf New Member

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    I'm going to go bottom up this time....

    Where was your manager when the MAP came in the store? Your store manager should be able to get a heads up when someone at that level is in your area... If everyone's with a customer people who walk in the door should be welcomed. I don't shake anyone's hand until I'm bringing them back to my station. I just haven't had the same experience as you with the handshake thing.. it's rare that someone comes in with an unshakable hand... if you make the effort that counts... some customers don't want to shake hands. I keep hand sanitizer in my desk, as long as it's out of customer view...

    I was under the impression that much of your management at the store levels were the same managers you had before?
    When we are understaffed, people in our stores will typically NOT take lunches during peak times. At one time a half hour lunch was mandated to reduce the amount of time the store was 'short' a person during the day, I think that's ok.. most people can eat and come back in under 30 minutes.

    Forced rate plan migration due to changing technology and/or change in ownership are common. We have a few areas that provide an unlimited plan, but I know very few people that are on it, simply because the coverage isn't very good. Forced migrations can suck, but every wireless company I've ever worked for or done business with has done them. The customer's option is to be let out of their contract with no penalty.

    Your blinds issues should be resolved by your manager... In each of the stores I've been in it's been the manager's responsibility to coordinate the tinting of the windows. (We fuss about this in our store, too because the sun pretty much bakes the front of the store, but our lease agreement won't allow it).

    Again... I've seen only a handful of people leave over the BLOCS process, and most of them were voluntary seperations...
    As for the tic marks... it takes seconds, and your manager should be collecting any needed info off your tracking sheet and reporting it. You only have to tic mark 2 offers, and they should be included in BLOCS.. it's a no-brainer... Some of BLOCS is dumb, but it's not going away.

    Again...The entire BLOCS process can be completed for a customer making a payment while you are processing the payment with no time lost.. I do this on a daily basis with people that come in the store month after month after month and always decline my sales pitch... If you don't want to hear my sales pitch.. we've got a drop box... if you only have cash, Walmart sells money orders and we've got a drop box... if you want to talk to someone in the store (a sales rep).. you're going to get a sales pitch.

    The only issues that your area dealers should be sending into the store are equipment issues... if you get tons of billing issues.. you can drop your lines out the door in a few seconds by referring customers to customer service.
    i.e. refer them to a team of people trained to deal with billing issues!
    everyone in a corporate store deals with equipment issues.

    I wish you the best of luck, your attitude will have a lot to do with your sales, I recommend becoming an optimist. It's always been much easier for me to hit quotas when the store is shorthanded.. always look at the bright side of life... :biggrin:
     
  7. JGCampbell

    JGCampbell New Member

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    I enjoy your points and appreciate your replies to the post Wolf.
    BLOCS process is something that almost all of us did even before being Alltel it just wasnt a written mandate type of thing. It was just what any person does except that we had the flexability to feel out and determine what fit best to each customer. Again it was a common sense thing and not a micro managed item that was forced down our throats and hovered over our shoulder. Thats what I dislike in Alltels strategy.

    Yes, we ususally know when a Big person is in the area from corporate but this was, as I said before, were ever actually converted in the buyout process. We were at the time owned by Alltel but nothing had really been done in the store other than introduction of some preconversion rate plan offerings. The President guy just had/has issues he needs to work out in some counseling in my opinion. Maybe something like an inferiority complex that makes him think he has to be an ___ and flount his authority in negative and degrading ways to feel good. But it is gone and past, just leaves a very bad tast.
    Optimistic is what I was for a long long time and I did lots of extra duties and even put in extra time to do it and make sure things were workin well for myself, other reps and te sotre in general. Because those were not SALES details they took my time away form floor sales and thus reduced my numbers. They were however things that have to get done and are very crucial to customer service and store efficiency. Bottom line is I got written up for not hitting a sales quota and rather performing duties that are directed at serving the customer. Those items such as loaner phones and repair dont even get done now and are piled up in the back with customers demanding to know where their phone is in the process. Even though Alltel markes this an has a process, there is no time to do it unless time is taken off of the floor as we have always been short handed. The Big people see this when they visit but all they say is we need to work on our greeting and sales, nothing about other issues.

    Last, to be clear to any reader other than us two. i know you likely come from a different area and have a different VP over your area who is probably much more realistic. I have heard that from people in various parts of the country. problem is that Alltel hired the VP and President for this area. From all I can tell things are very different here than they are other places in the country. Believe me I am an optimistic person but have been pissed off to the point that I despise the job and yea, I am feeling that I too am close to that voluntary decision you mentioned. It is eventually, the best solution for all in such situations. i think my greatest anger is that I actually had some good intention to try and move into higher ranks after my graduate school was over this year but gat such a bad tast in my mouth that I want nothing to do under, next to or over such individuals as i've seen in this company. It is an example of a failure in continuous quality management and narrow minded sales mentality dominating decision making. Money is necessary to generate revenue and boost stock for the investors inthe compnay. BUT pursuite of money alone will eventually lead to failure. But thats a fight for others to take on as I hope to find other avenues for myself that dont encourage me to sit around writing out my frustratioon in such postings as this.
     
  8. MOTOhooligan

    MOTOhooligan Former Mobile Data Addict
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    As an employee, WWC was the greatest company in the world to work for. Because it was smaller, you felt like part of the team, you felt taken care of and you felt as though your voice mattered.

    Alltel is a much, much larger company. They have big, lumbering processes in place that may not be as efficient or make as much sense as WWC's... they also take longer to change.

    If they were cars, Alltel would be a Ford Exlplorer and WWC would be a Honda Accord. Accords are small and nimble, even without power steering, you could easily turn the wheel and go where you want to go. It takes more force and time to steer the Explorer, but you can still turn the wheel. You've got to put your complaints in an easy to understand form and keep forwarding them up the chain of command. Not all of your concerns will be addressed, Alltel is too big to address all of them, but some of them will be, and that's how you make changes in a big company.

    I know you're upset with Alltel right now, JG, this transition has been difficult for everyone involved. However, aren't you glad that WWC decided to sell when they did and you still have a job? And aren't you glad that job is with a Ford Explorer, rather than with an eighteen-wheel tractor trailer like Verizon or Cingular? Imagine how hard it must be to even get a question answered if you worked there!
     
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  9. alltelwirelesstech

    alltelwirelesstech Senior Member
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    It sure must be different out there than here in the corp level. Moto, how are things on your side of things. Now i will say i know that quota is something here even in the store next door to here at the home office. you miss quota twice in 12 months... goodbye you are the weakest link.
     
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  10. MOTOhooligan

    MOTOhooligan Former Mobile Data Addict
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    It's okay... there are definitly things that could have been done better during the transition. For example, existing reps got one week of training, while new hires receive five weeks of training. People who just walked in the door know more than I do because they received better training. They could have given us more, I think.

    I thought WWC sales offices had quotas similar to the Alltel quotas but I could be mistaken. I just thought that was how the sales side of things worked, no matter which provider you work for.
     
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  11. warewulf

    warewulf New Member

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    FIVE WEEKS!?!? :eek:
    When I started in Customer Service I got 2 weeks of training.. when I learned a new billing system for a conversion I got 4 days of training... when I learned ANOTHER new billing system I got 1 week of training... I've been with the company almost 5 years now, and haven't managed to get them to pay me for 5 weeks of training... 5 weeks is a LONG time to train new hires..
    in fact... our new hires here get only 2 weeks of training...

    I know that since we've gone to the WC rep structure the quotas are almost the same.
    Of course the quotas are based on store traffic and historical sales, but comparable payout plans with WWC require less data (and I think accessories) than 'heritage' Alltel markets...
     

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