Ebay Outsources to Hungary?

While staying in Budapest, I found out that decently big employer in the area was Ebay Germany. It turns out that they are running the bulk of their customer support operations in Hungary. For those in the US, the question is bound to be, “Why?” India is supposedly the cheapest place to outsource this type of thing, so why on earth would Ebay outsource part of their business to a country in Europe and one that is in the EU at that? The answer is quite obvious in the fact that Indians do not speak German, whereas a great many Hungarians do. Then of course there is the fact that Hungary is on the Forint and not the Euro, plus the fact that Hungarian wages are vastly lower than those in Germany.
It is quickly obvious for a US customer calling customer support that they are speaking to someone in India due to the heavy accent and the odd beeps and blips over the phone connection. But when a German calls or emails customer support for Ebay Germany, the fact that the person on the other end of the line is not only not German, but not even in Germany isn’t made clear. Much like a number of Indian call centers who have their workers take on a more “American” (WASPish) name to communicate with the callers, the Hungarians take on a more German name like Lara or Hans for all their communications. While this is done partially for the ease of the German speaker, it is also done so that the German caller doesn’t know that the Hungarian on the other end of the line is in Hungary. If this were to become common knowledge, the Germans would be terrible unhappy about it as it is seen as taking away jobs from Germans, which is quite justifiable concern.
Keeping these jobs in the EU where the wages are lower is a lot like what some American companies are doing where they, “insource” jobs to areas of the US where wages are lower. Is this an inherently bad practice? It is a method to keep costs down, but at the same time jobs are created, so I would have say it’s a neutral to slightly positive action despite it being purely motivated by the almighty financial bottom line. Because it’s within a singular economic environment (the EU) it’s not the artificial invisible hand that can ruin local economies like the Western-backed manufacturing facilities in Asia do. As I’ve often stated, any external force on a local economy that cannot be removed without it collapsing the lives of those who are employed by this external force and the community surrounding those lives, is an incredibly malevolent entity.
The only truly bad part of this is that Ebay Germany is not being honest with their German customers. It should be known that those working in their customer service department are at least Hungarian and not German. Then beyond that, it’s the customer’s decision in how to use this information and decide if they want to continue doing business with the company knowing the truth of their business practices.
Ebay Outsources to Hungary?

3 Replies to “Ebay Outsources to Hungary?”

  1. But Mike, what do multinational corporations care about patriotism and giving back to the communities that grew them? The way to tell who is the poorest country is to see which richest country employs them most. Gotta keep growin’ and growin’ and growin.’ That’s the only way to inflate stocks each quarter.

    Alternatively, there could simply be private corporations/partnerships that are wildly successfully with huge longevity despite their inherently exclusive nature to being part of the market. They wouldn’t have to give a damn about growing their stocks all the time and their lifespan would be very long without having to resort to outsourcing and other bad things.

    1. Walmart cares. They keep telling me they care and point out their publications where the write that they care, so that must mean they care. And they love me too. Why else would they keep lowering prices? That’s corporate love if I ever saw it.

    2. Hudin,
      I love your sense of Humour …
      Walmart loves … its financial bottom line!
      – Walmart buys US at 10 and sells at 15.
      GrossMargin: 5 (50%).
      – Walmart buys Chinese at 3 and sells at 12.
      GrossMargin: 9 (300%!!!).

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