US card issuer Capital One has terminated a telemarketing contract with Indian call centre operator Wipro Spectramind after an internal audit uncovered a campaign to deliberately mislead customers during sales calls.
The alleged malpractice, uncovered by Wipro during a routine audit, entailed telecentre operatives offering prospective leads false incentives such as free gifts and membership discounts to sign with Capital One. The practice was apparently widespread and encouraged by team leaders.
Sixty-five employees at the 250-seat call centre resigned following capital One's decision to pull the plug on the telemarketing operation. Wipro says that it continues to work with Capital One to handle inbound calls.
The decision is another blow to Wipro which late last year endured a run of bad publicity after losing a helpdesk contract with Lehman Brothers following complaints about the quality of service.
Analyst house Gartner last week forecast a near-term slowdown in offshoring due to negative publicity and the first spate of failures among trend-setting companies. Nonetheless, Gartner projects that as many as one-in-four traditional IT jobs will have shifted from developed countries to low-cost offshore centres by 2010.