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date: 05 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter uses Marx’s theory of labor and machines to outline a critical history of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology-enabled automated call centers. Certain call center failings originated with misplaced desires for more “human” customer service, while capitalist assumptions have made viable alternatives unthinkable for critics and advocates alike. An update of Virgin Mobile USA’s customer support line during the beginning of a global recession provides a revealing case study. The chapter discusses the support line’s structure and style, arguing that it was designed to promote a brand image and harness customers’ unpaid labor with little regard for the quality of that labor.

Keywords: IVR technology, automated call center, Virgin Mobile USA, Simone, Alex, sound and brand image, labor, the machine

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