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Laureen Miles Brunelli

Arise Virtual Solutions Pays $1.24 Million to Settle Lawsuit

By January 22, 2013

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A federal judge in California this month gave preliminary approval to a $1.24 million settlement between home call center company Arise Virtual Solutions and a group of its customer services reps who were assigned to its clients AT&T and Apple. The workers had claimed in the suit that they were intentionally misclassified as independent contractors in order to avoid paying overtime, training, taxes and other expenses. The case was dismissed with prejudice, meaning the result is final, and without Arise admitting guilt in any of the allegations.

Of all the nearly 60 work-at-home call centers I have on this list of virtual call centers, Arise is the call center company that inspires the strongest opinions--both for and against its business model. And its not actually on that list because I don't consider it the same type of operation. Arise works differently than most work-at-home call centers, which may be one of the only things its detractors and defenders agree on.

Although I wouldn't call it a work at home scam, I just don't think it is a very good opportunity. But, not everyone would agree with me. I have had hundreds of comments on these pages of short reviews of Arise. The difference between independent contractors and employees comes up frequently in the comments, and that distinction was integral in the recent decision.

But a difference from other companies I like to point out is the similarly of its contractors and customers. Arise agents are, in a sense, Arise customers too. Agents must pay for training for each client, and even more important, they pay a monthly fee of nearly $40 for use of Arise's infrastructure, which should surely include technical support. And if, indeed, Arise's technical support has as many problems as the reviewers report, then its agents--i.e., its customers--are not getting what they paid for.

But the larger question, to me, is does it make sense to pay in the first place. Being an independent contractor does not mean that you must absorb all business costs.

I am independent contractor--not an employee of About.com. However, About does not charge me a fee to use its infrastructure, and it provides technical support and many other tools to help me be more productive. It makes good business sense for About to help me publish more articles, so About and I can both share in the revenue.

About's model of no fees to its contractors is far more typical than Arise's. Other than paying for a background check (and most companies do not charge for this), I do not recommend any call center company that charges its agents fees.

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Comments
January 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm
(1) Zippy says:

I know a little bit about the call center industry and I think this comes down to semantics. Are Arise agents, like you suggest, independent contractors or are they, like Arise calls them, independent business owners? Because as I understand it , Arise encourages agents to create their own business and hire their own call center agents.

I see it as a bit more akin to a franchisee. If I want to open a Subway I have to pay a fee and dues for that opportunity. So if that’s the case am I really a business owner?

Let’s say I want to buy a condo. Am I really a ‘home owner’ if I have to pay fees to the HOA and abide by their rules?

And while you fairly stated that there were hundreds of positive reviews of Arise we both know that more people write to complain about something than to praise something. Bad experiences tend to be driven by emotion while good experiences tend to be motivated by fact. That’s true in most anything.

I don’t have a horse in this race but I do know a bit about the call center industry and independent contractors in general. And I do have to say that your equating being a writer for an online media platform to the work of an independent call center agent is a bit of a disingenuous stretch.

January 26, 2013 at 11:03 am
(2) workathomemoms says:

Thanks for you thoughtful comment. And agree that it does come down to semantics. But I think comparing it to a Subway franchise is disingenuous. At a Subway, your customer base is the public. At Arise your customer base is restricted to Arise’s clients. Agents have no ability to increase profits by selling more sandwiches. Their only avenue for profit is through Arise.

March 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm
(3) Anonymous says:

Arise is a joke, they waste your time, I would never recommend anyone to join them. Their courses are a month and half long and you have to pay for them???? All the training with no income. Furthermore, if you need to contact support, they’re unskilled, your on hold forever and they can’t resolve your issue. They simply don’t care about your time, as if your a second class citizen. I would highly recommend seeking opportunity other than Arise, to save you the stress, money and hassle with this company.

March 25, 2013 at 8:02 am
(4) Michelle-Arise IBO says:

Arise is not a scam. It is simply a business opportunity and everyone is made aware of that before applying for the opportunity. Working from home takes discipline and dedication. There are many people who do not take working from home serious so they will apply and get a job only to find out later that they are not cut out to work from home. So the company is out of costs for background checks and training.

I have worked for several legitimate at home companies. I have paid for background checks as well. One of the companies I worked for was Af** and my first pay check was not received. The whole class that was in training with me had to wait until the next payday to receive our checks. Is that good business? Are they a scam? There are many IBO’s with Arise who have never had a pay discrepancy. Also, work at home companies similar to the one listed above require you to work a set schedule just like a brick and mortar company so where is the flexibility? The Arise opportunity offers you the convenience and flexibility of choosing the client you want to service, the days you want to work, and the hours you want to work. (continued)

March 25, 2013 at 8:04 am
(5) Michelle-Arise IBO says:

With the Arise model, the costs are the responsibility of the Independent Contractor. This way a person is investing in self and are more likely to show up for work and have a greater interest in becoming successful. Most of the independent businesses offer reimbursement of fees after the contractor starts servicing a client.

If you were a small business allowing others to work under you, you would not want to inquire the costs of individuals who are not serious about working. This is the world we live in. I am an IBO with Arise so I can speak from experience. In the hiring process, I outline the process and ask applicants not to apply until they are ready to start and complete the admissions process and that it should be completed within 3 days. Yet still I receive at least 20 applications a week of individuals who never even start the admissions process. People do not read or listen and that is the risk that is associated with the decision to hire independent contractors who will have the responsibility of costs. There are several small IBO’s who have tried to assist contractors with the cost of training only to have the contractor not show up to work and lose the contract. Unfortunately we small business owners do not have the finances to support individuals who are not going to take the opportunity serious.

In the end, Arise is not right for everyone as in any job or opportunity. But for those who are right for Arise, it is legit and a way to earn income from home. Arise is constantly adding new clients and as someone who has worked for several at home companies, I can tell you that agents who work for Arise service some of the same clients. So that should say a lot about Arise and it legitimacy as a company.

April 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm
(6) CaliGirl says:

If Arise hires independent contractors only, why does it no longer hire them from California and a couple of other states? http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_independentcontractor.htm
Because California defines Arise’s independent contractors as nothing more than an employee with an LLC. If I’m not mistaken, some former Arise independent contractors have sued Arise and won unemployment compensation after being dismissed as if they were employees.
I believe the reason Arise makes people incorporate is to protect Arise from legal liability and nothing more. The State Attorney General’s Offices in every state needs to go after Arise and make them pay people back for the money they’ve shelled out to work as an IC for them. I am glad they have to pay over $1 million dollars and hope other employees in other companies that Arise contracts with follow suit now that the ground has been broken for such a lawsuit against them.

October 15, 2013 at 12:09 pm
(7) qballpi says:

i have worked for Arise’s subcontractor company for many months now and have never agreed with their payment method. They cannot tell me how I get paid except to say that the minutes I post for, plus the minutes I work that I don’t post for, minus ????, here is the rub! they never can tell me what they deduct for except for no shows and NCNS, my check is always less than it should be as per my calculations; Everyone has the same answer, send note to accounting; But they only send back a note saying they checked with company and everything is accurate; Well, to work 35-50 per 15 day work period to get paid $200+/_ is ridiculous. I wll probably lose my job over this but we shall see;

November 1, 2013 at 7:17 pm
(8) sheerathewonderwoman says:

I was contracted with Arise for over 7 years. They are a rip off.

November 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm
(9) Jane Doe says:

How and where do we go to start up a lawsuit as their treatment to Contractor vs employee is way overboard , their pay schemes are absurd and you never have access to your own stuff. They have no customer support, their so called QA’s, PF’s , PCL, are absolutely insulting, rude and the treatment is disrespectful in my opinion for this . To me it reminds me of a hostile workplace with abuse actions at times

December 26, 2013 at 2:41 pm
(10) David says:

This is great you have peolpe stating they worked at a place for 7 years they do not like and they call them a rip off. Why would you work anywhere and feel that way for 7 years, that is crazy in of itself. You have people stating that they may have worked 35 hrs or 50 hrs and they were only paid $200.00 when the hourly wage for the jobs are 9.00 to 15.00 and hour, which if you can do math comes up to more then $200.00 either way you do it. That is even when you substract the $40.00 that people have talked about. I would say that the IBO’s you were working for were the ones’s riping you off. The good ones yes charge a fee but it is like only $20.00 per pay check any you get help with problems that may come-up, they direct depost you checks and they show you there print out. I also know that if you pass the Certification you show up for your asigned times to work after two months they will give you the cost back for the certifcation. So a company that you are a Independent Contractor for helps you in the way that they should the cost is reasonable. I also know that there are some that if you stay with them for 6 mos you earn a 10% discount on the fee they charge. Sometimes people are so desperate that they do not look at the whole picture when they do something I know I have been there but after you get burned you open your eyes a little. The other thing someone talkes about how do we get in on this law suite. Get a job and stop trying to get something for nothing I am ok with law suite if you have had bodily harm done to you or something big but you could have stoped this anytime yourself. People need to own some of this them self.

Just my 2 cents

March 20, 2014 at 9:43 pm
(11) Angie J says:

The issue really isn’t about Arise its with people, in a normal w2 type job, people expect the employer to do everything for you but with Arise you are your own business w9 and it is up to you where you want to take it, you have a choice if you want to be an employee minded person (be taken care of) or if you are business minded and take care of yourself, and cultivate your business They have a very good technical support I don’t even know why this is mentioned in the article at all? You have the flexibility to work from home and pick your own hours, you also can pick through a good amount of companies you want to work for.

Arise has many contracts for very reputable businesses but people have to prove themselves, my rep paid for my training but it was an investment, to get certified and learn, the pay range is 10-18 an hour depending on your work and how serious you want to take your job after a few months they are very much willing to pay you what you are worth, or you can choose to go the franchise route and get people under you to work.

It is honestly what you make of it, the problem is in your thinking, as far as the issues with California it was the state that gave them issues, but that has since changed and California is an open market, also the recent law suite was dismissed due to no probable cause, everyone in this country is looking for a hand out, if its your business work it with good character and see it flourish, if you plan to just be an employee then go work at the physical call center and get paid, its your business not a job people are expected to take charge of their business, how many business owners do you know work as just employees? They do it all

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