5 On Your Side

Legitimate work-from-home opportunities exist

Posted November 25, 2008
Updated June 1, 2009

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— A growing customer service industry is allowing some people with computers, telephones and communication skills to make a reasonable living from home.

These jobs are different from work-at-home scams that leave people paying money, not making it.

Jessica Davis, of Raleigh, works from home as a customer service coach for Alpine Access.

“This morning I started work in my PJs,” Davis said.

Davis handles escalated customer billing calls for a cell phone provider.

Before getting a job with Alpine Access, Davis searched the Internet for opportunities, but found a lot of duds.

“Anywhere from 'make money at home stuffing envelopes' or e-mailing or stuff like that. Then you spend your money and it turns out to be a complete flop,” Davis said.

She started with Alpine Access in May as a full-time customer service representative, complete with insurance and vacation benefits. A few months later, she was promoted.

Alpine Access has 7,500 employees who work from home. The company plans to hire another 1,200 people during the first quarter of 2009. Its customer service reps earn $8 to $14 an hour.

There is a growing number of companies who see working at home as a win-win.

SpeakWrite hires full- and part-time contract typists for transcription work. It pays between $10 and $12 an hour.

These types of companies say they operate more economically because they don't have a physical call center and can hire employees from all over the country.

For the most part, the companies say the jobs are perfect for stay-at-home moms, retirees and workers who have disabilities. Many workers have at least some college education.

All the employers say the best candidates have a lot of self-discipline and motivation. They believe those who succeed are happier, more loyal employees because they are able to work from home.

Davis feels like she does a better job than she would if she had to commute to an office.

“You’re already stressed out by the time you get there,” Davis said.

Davis cautions that even though you are working from home, it is still work.

“A lot of people do think: work from home (means) 'alright, bunny slippers. I can do anything I want all day long.’ And for the most part, it is that comfortable, but you know it is still a real job. You still have to give your 110 percent every day,” she said.

Tips to remember when looking to work from home:

  • Never pay to work. If the company wants an upfront fee for supplies or something else, forget it.
  • Before applying, check out the company. Check the Better Business Bureau. "Google" the company and its owner.

A list of some companies offering “work at home” customer-service opportunities:

Alpine Access

SpeakWrite

LiveOps

West at Home

WRAL does not endorse these companies.

2 Comments

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  • tiggerjd3 Nov 26, 6:30 p.m.

    I work with west at home part time. I am contracted with virgin mobile, and I love it. I make really good money,and their requirments are not that bad. I get a check in the mail every other Monday and its great. I do not experiece many irate customers, which is great. I have several friends that have started working with West, and they love it. Give it a try. They train you really well and its not that bad. The only upfront cost, was I had another phone line added, which is not required and the head set that fits into the phone, which I love it and use it even when I am not working. Its a really good company to work for.

  • USN Vet Nov 25, 7:32 p.m.

    You should also keep in mind that many of these jobs, if not all of them, are going to be dealing with the public and the public isn't nice. Having done customer service functions, I know first hand how nasty, rude, and mentally challenged the public can be. If you have a thick skin, then go for it, but if you can't handle the verbal abuse, then try something else.