CustomerSpeak, formerly Datascension, closes shop; fires 500

CustomerSpeak's operations were located on the 4th and 5th floors of Mall San Pedro.

CustomerSpeak’s operations were located on the 4th and 5th floors of Mall San Pedro.

April 14th, 2014 (InsideCostaRica.com) US-based CustomerSpeak, which provides multilingual data collection and contact center services, has closed down its facility in Mall San Pedro in San José, leaving 500 workers unemployed.

 

CustomerSpeak’s Costa Rica operations were acquired from US-based Datascension in 2011, after Datascension reported a huge drop in revenues that year.  CustomerSpeak stepped in that year and acquired Datascension’s assets and assumed its liabilities.

 

At the end of last year, CustomerSpeak negotiated a settlement with the Costa Rican Social Security System (CCSS) to pay more than $3 million to settle Datascension’s outstanding worker-employer tax obligations.

 

A former employee in the call center told a reporter for local television station, Teletica, that staff had received a letter informing them their services were no longer required.

 

Information as to what led to the decision was not immediately available.

 

The closure adds another 500 unemployed to the Costa Rican economy, which has been stunned in recent days after Intel announced the closure of its manufacturing operations in the country, resulting in the loss of 1,500 jobs, as well as Bank of America, which announced the closure of large back office facility in the country and the firing of all 1,500 of its staff.

 

 

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    • mhogan

      Fatal Hemorrhagic Dengue in the cards for Costa Rica? The President-elect may need more than a socialist band-aid to stop the hemorrhaging. Waiting to hear the spin. But hey, another U.S. company — Costa Rica doesn’t need them; better off without them. Pura Vida.

      • McDemon

        Doesn’t need the tourists or foreign investors either. They’ll be just fine!

        • Ben

          Good point. But who is next HP ot Proctor and Gamble or Who? Just walked over to San Pedro Mall .Staff don´t know what to do. They have not even been paid there last checks or recieved Caja forms. One ex staff said they have not paid any vacation out for 12 months to any staff. McDemon i guess it time to say this you right. Everyone is running out of Costa Rica. I also heard that this company needs to pay Caja 2 million dollars in out standing debt. HR staff told me at mall.

          • McDemon

            These layoffs are huge! To put it in perspective this is like 270,000 jobs evaporating in the US overnight. These layoffs represent 5% of the CR GDP. Intel alone represented 13.5% of the entire CR Export market.( if you agree with the governments bundling of “service” exports into the number to artificially inflate the export figures)

            • Ben

              PLN have screwed this country up. They have become so stupied when it come to smart business thing like opening a bank account or starting small business it makes me sick. New goverment can not fix this mess in four year. It will get worse before it get better. Most Costa Rican have lots of debt,Credit and so on.Can you say Iceland or Spain. Expect radical reforms on taxes and pension. Expect higher taxes on homes and Cars. Goverment needs to be honest something they don´t do at all in Costa Rica.

            • Tico Frank

              Mentiras. You blame the PLN but has anyone noticed that these companies
              are leaving within hours or days of the election of Solis. Within a
              few hours of becoming the president elect he stated that CAFTA was bad
              and he would seek to work with Russia. Show me one success story of a
              Russian partner. Please, even one.

            • Ben

              Cafta is not perfect for Costa Rica it is not perfect for US. I think trade has to be changed more like Costa Rica and Canada deal. Cafta was brought in very fast by PLN and many people do not know the taxes to get products into Costa Rica. For example US has a 100% tax on Black bean that are brought into US. Its hard for farmers to get products into US markets with these high taxes. Costa Rica need to lower taxes on Automobiles big time to help small business. I think Cafta has to change or CR will be a gone very soon. Also not much is made in the US anymore so US need to be more open to less taxes-

            • Ben

              Just saw New Prez Staff meaning VP´s. Not good for business at all. Expect more companies to leave. One cabinet guy already said he will tax all business more. Very old group no young people under 45 years of age. Seemed to stick with buddies of party. 4000+ jobs loss and growing. I wish for the best but it going to be hard to see a future untill unemployment get really low.

          • mhogan

            The root of Capitalism is “Capital” – that which people who possess wealth and use it to control a society’s economic activity, collectively. The ugly word “money” drives an economy. Chinchilla wants “carbon neutral” to control the economy and social justice will somehow be met by distribution of Capital. “Carbon neutrality”, while noble, is too big an economic burden on rich countries let alone small struggling countries like CR. Capital leaves when the Social burden is too great and regulations stifle productivity. Frankly, I believe that 52% on top of a salary is too high a social burden. (25% CAJA employer portion, 2 weeks/yr vacation, severance of 1 month for every year, min. 2+ weeks pre-aviso, feriados, paid sick/maternity days for an increasingly sick population). Employees should have some benefits but the first item is confiscatory and still the CAJA can’t make ends meet. Throw in a bunch of burdensome regulations and a Labor Ministry that rules only for the employee and it’s a no-win to stay in CR. And, CR has a very high Corporation Tax, much greater than Canada, for example (30+% vs 15% and dropping). It is sad for the people losing their jobs but they have come to expect too much dependency from a nanny state. When the nanny state won’t be able to deliver, we’ll have a rebellion. Rights, once given, can never be taken away; even when those rights cannot be paid for.

            • Ben

              When i hear Carbon neutral that mean dead in the water. Costa Rican are very passive by nature they will not stand up for themselfs. Unions in this country want raises they will be luck if they have a job next monday. I heard ICE has 150 guys retiring at end of month. I know this as a fact my family is leaving ICE offered a package to leave. UCR students will have to start paying soon. No more free ride. Costa Rica might want to think about joining another county like anyone asap.

      • Ben

        When your right your right. No bandaid is going to fix this Mess now Caja will lose 25 million dollars right now and pension are down the tubes. I was wrong you where right. Socialism will not fix this mess not even close. Its not just US multi national leaving it could be everyone soon.

      • Ben

        Why are you in Latin America? Why?

    • disgusted

      To the thousands who have lost their jobs and fairly decent pay as well supporting their families my deepest sympathy too all.

      It took my friend 6 months to find another job went from $1200 a month to $650. Lost his car , house and his family moved in with his mother to make ends meet.

      Global park call center too are cutting back. He speaks perfect English has education and skills yet nothing out there. I fear only going to get worse.

      About the only security for now is a government job, you cannot it seems get fired for incompetency , however only those connected politically and old family nepotism get those.. So the rest of you your out of luck. This is going to be a bumpy ride for the Costarricense here in the future. What a shame! Next HP, IBM??

      • Ben

        Sad to hear this. What is next? Goverment is going to have to layoff next to stay alive.

        • disgusted

          However, Ben your having logical attack, I agree with you . I haven’t seen this from the greedy politicians, government officials here. BN can just print more money and sell their collective soul to China and whoever. Wait till Solis gets in we need pay raises for all of the top officials. Borrowing more than 50% plus of the budget. paying high pensions and benefits to diputados for rest of their life is a real ball buster!

          • Ben

            Your on fire today. This high priced help in goverment is going to be the end of Costa Rica. Did you know that Mayor Johnny Arraya salary is more than the mayor of New York and London. What did Costa Rica get for this high pay not one thing. I bet they will not print money Most Tico are payed in Colons the colon would be worth nothing if the printed money. Most Rents are payed in dollars see there is big problem going to happen. Costa Rica has no reserves for dollars. BCR are already putting bare amounts of dollars in Bank Machines. Soon there will be no dollars around.

            • disgusted

              In the La Nacion had article where the CEO of the government run CAJA is pulling in over 8 million colons a month and asking for a raise. then ICE their top executives are getting about the same. These top excutives are hauling in huge salaries. They like to compare themselves to the USA I say compare yourself to Panama and Nicaragua. However, The Costarricenses here do not really seem to care and like sheep.

              My son in law works for MOPT draftsman. He said no one who works for the government will bad mouth their bosses or else. He does not even have a Facebook page I said why said that too can get you fired as his boss wanted his he said I do not have one. This is the way they keep the lower pay in check.. Just the way it works. China you need more shark fins??

    • Ben

      Its clear now that we are going to see every company run fast out of country. Most Companies will not be able to pay higher taxes after 4000 staff are out of work.

    • Ben

      What is the Unemployment Rate going to be now. I guess worse than Spain thanks again PLN no small business sense at all.

      • Tico Frank

        Again. You blame the PLN but has anyone noticed that these companies
        are leaving within hours or days of the election of Solis. Within a
        few hours of becoming the president elect he stated that CAFTA was bad
        and he would seek to work with Russia. Show me one success story of a
        Russian partner. Please, even one.

        • Ken Morris

          I doubt that companies of this size make major business decisions like closing operations based upon only a couple weeks or months of evidence, much less make them based upon the election of a fairly centrist president. The only way I could see your scenario obtaining, and then only with respect to this current company, is if it had political connections with the PLN that allowed it to remain arrears in its taxes and fear that a Solís administration will make it pay up. But this is a stretch.

          • Tico Frank

            I don’t doubt these companies had an exit planned but the election of Solis likely expedited the departure or made it an easier decision. Also your perception of centrist is not likely similar to the average Americans. Most Americans would NEVER consider a president who wants to dismantle CAFTA or increase trade with Russia centrist. Lets say for a moment that a company was considering moving to CR, how do you think they would you evaluate the comments by Solis in their decision making? Especially in light of the position the USA is in with regards to Russia and the Ukraine?

            • Ben

              Russia has nothing to do with this company leaving. This company has many problems and lost two big contracts. I know i spoke with one of the manager. They bid on a contract and lost to a firm in India. As for Ukraine and Russia lets just stay out of that mess. Even Germany is saying now Russia is in the right to protect Russian in Crimea.

            • Frank Castle

              We need to stay out of the mess in Ukraine but, Ben, if you don”t believe the Russians aren’t putting agents into Eastern Ukraine to provoke the violence there, you would be pretty naive. Putin is using the Hitler playbook to a tee and will invade Eastern Ukraine once a few more Ethnic Russians are shot and/or killed. He has nothing but time.
              As for who should get involved, let England, France, Italy, Germany, etc handle this. They have militaries, it’s in their backyard and they had better get used to doing this. The Yanks can’t be doing this stuff forever!

              As for these layoffs in Costa Rica, they are really tragic but hopefully the country can learn some lesson from this and diversify the business sector even more.

            • Ben

              I don´t want to talk about Russia and Ukraine and US and EU mess. I agree US should stay far from this mess in Ukraine. CIA is in Ukraine aswell. Nuland and Brennan are involved big time. Let try peace i was 20 years in Military peace is better trust me on that.

            • Frank Castle

              Agreed, peace is best. Believe me, I served 30 years in the USN/USCG and don’t want to be involved in any more wars. Let’s hope the Russians stay out of Nicaragua for Costa Rica’s sake. That wouldn’t be good for you guys.

            • Ben

              Costa Rica needs to open its markets up. Clearly this is not going to happen. Solis is not going to fix 4000+ job loss and growing in four years. More job losses are coming thats a fact,DHL,HP,PandG,IBM and maybe FedEX. Costa Rica needs better tax codes and better banking system. Costa Rica needs to be competative with Road building and Shipping in and out of Country. Goverment needs to cut salary of high price help including themselfs.

            • Ken Morris

              Actually, I think the stronger case for the elections influencing business decisions to leave can be made upon the basis of the huge win by the Frente Amplio and what appeared in December/January to be its possibly winning the presidency. However, I think even this is farfteched. Insofar as politics is affecting business decisions (and surely it does to some extent), my bet is that business leaders simply see the country’s fiscal situation as unsustainable and know this has to lead to some kind of change. This introduces uncertainty in the economy, and business hates uncertainty.

              With respect to Americans’ attitudes toward CAFTA, I didn’t search much (and doubt that opinions about CAFTA specifically have been surveyed in the US) but I did quickly find this survey of attitudes toward free trade generally:

              http://www.pewresearch.org/2010/11/09/americans-are-of-two-minds-on-trade/

              As you can see, majorities of Americans actually don’t support these treaties with countries outside of Europe and Japan. So I would continue to characterize Solís’ position as centrist. He’s after all not anti-trade, just has reservations about the specific treaty.

              As for trading with Russia, I have no idea how Americans feel about this (although Russian vodka seems popular in the US), but I think too much is being made out of this. Heck, all he said in an interview with Russian media is that he’d like to increase trade with Russia. A US president-elect would probably say the same thing.

              As far as companies not opening up shop in CR because of Solís, well, that might happen, but this is a future prediction, not an explanation for why some companies have closed shop. Let’s wait and see.

              My sense is that business executives make location decisions based upon a wide range of factors (and the World Bank CAFTA report includes a survey of executives mentioning several of these factors), with the winners of elections rarely very salient. Heck, the executives usually plan for longer than four years anyway. Actually, even CAFTA isn’t very important. Intel located here without CAFTA and is leaving with it in place.

              I wouldn’t know, but again, insofar as politics is salient, I suspect the problem now with CR is the uncertainty that arises from the fiscal mess. Additionally, I suspect that the myriad often conflicting regulations, CR’s reneging on agreements like with the Canadian mining company, and probably high payroll taxes are issues. At the end of the day, companies mainly come to CR in order to pay lower wages than they could elsewhere with roughly the same overall business climate. Rising wages and high payroll taxes probably do make CR less attractive for some companies than it once was.

              But I doubt that one interview by the president-elect got more than a blip on the business radar.

        • Ben

          PLN new what was going on with Intel 1 years ago. Maybe not BofA or the call center in San Pedro mall but they New. PAC has a mess to deal with. As for Russia we will see. Russia might sell Gas i could see that or Steel,Wheat,flour,Corn,Vodka,Beer,Tourism would help.

    • Chris Thomas

      Fantastic I hope more companies leave, is time Costa Rica pays for stealing from investors and tourists no one should invest a dime in this country of thieves they did not value the foreign investment they killed the goose that laid the golden egg is time they learn a lesson

      • Ben

        You guys don´t get it at all. Costa Rica has right to govern it self. Cafta is a joke it does not help anybody in Costa Rica. Good luck

    • Frank Castle

      Here is an idea and just part of the puzzle that might help Costa Rica.

      Clean up Limon by beefing up the police presence and developing more local crafts business for the cruise ships that dock there. Safeguard tours up the waterways to Tortuguero and the Rio Colorado for the nature lovers and fisherman. Tell the dock workers in Moin to cut out the strikes because the more business coming through the port means more stable jobs for them. Oh, and while they are at it, see if Costa Rica can get ahead of the curve on this new Panama strain of banana disease. Maybe find another type of banana that is resistant (not Cavendish or Gros Michel) to this stuff.

    • Karen Mata

      CR has repeatedly deceived corporate interests (selling and rescinding mining and offshore drilling rights), states (Taiwan for starters), and pensioners (rescinding the Pensionado program, and then double taxing them).
      It’s time to play your Russian card, as I don’t believe those other interests will be fooled again. The word is out.

    • Karen Mata

      In a few years Solis will be welcoming the Panapats back with open arms, and a multiple of the present exchange rate.

    • Jerry

      Could not happen to a more deserving country.

      • Ben

        Your right. Its getting sad everyday.

    • mhogan

      Ben, I’ve been reading your posts and you seem to have made a 180–giving thumbs up to comments only last week you would have chastised. You’re agreeing with concepts such as lower taxation (“US need[s] to be open to less taxes”), et al whereas a week ago you ran up one side of me and down the other that all Americans think about are taxes as though taxation is just, never confiscatory (many of CR taxes are confiscatory). I, for one, am beginning to question your sincerity, Are you really a wolf in lamb’s clothing or have you changed from left ideology/nationalism overnight? BTW I find it kinda spooky that I received an ICR notice that you wanted to follow my posts. I wonder how many others you’re following. (Trust me, this is not out of jealousy, my friend) I didn’t check off that I approved of your “following” and I don’t approve of this feature with ICR. You’re one creepy dude. Stop speaking out of both sides of your mouth.

      • Karen Mata

        You read my mind, MH.

        Our friend has gone from Ben to Ben Dover.

      • http://insidecostarica.com/ Timothy Williams

        mhogan,

        The “following” feature is not really an ICR feature, but a feature of the “Disqus” comment system we use.

        There is a way to completely disable this feature for your account, which also prevents other users from being able to see your comment history.

        Please read this help article on the Disqus web site for more information:

        http://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/1197204-making-your-activity-private

        Thank you for reading ICR.

        • Ben

          Don´t defend Inside Costa Rica your doing a good job. Keep up the good work. I might put an Ad in soon.

      • Ben

        I am not even going to Comment on your open point of views in your Life. Dam i Commented. I didn´t send you anything must have been a mistake.