Seoul, South Korea, Sept 17, 2018 -- LINA Life Insurance Company of Korea is under fierce criticism for abusing its contracted call center operator, as the insurer "abruptly canceled" its deal and put more than 600 telemarketers' jobs at risk.
According to the call center operator, Hankook Corp., LINA Korea "unilaterally notified" it in August that it would end the call center operating deal with the company.
Instead, the Korean unit of the American life insurer said it decided to have KTcs as its new call center operator from October.
Hankook has been handling LINA Korea's call center business for 16 years, running a 600-telemarketer call center on behalf of the insurer.
In 2016, the call center operator signed a new deal including call center operations, software and office rent.
LINA Korea then demanded massive investment by Hankook into the call center in return for "at least 10 more years" of call center operation, according to the company.
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Hankook Corporation said it moved to the office building it currently occupies near LINA Korea last year to secure space to house 600 telemarketers in the belief LINA Korea would keep its word.
"LINA Korea had been a huge client for us and we also had the feeling that we had grown together," a Hankook Corp. official said. "If it weren't LINA Korea's offer for the 10-year contract, we wouldn't have moved to the current office which is much bigger and more expensive."
Hankook claimed that a senior official at LINA Korea, surnamed Cho, said its group CEO met with KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu and they agreed on KTcs taking LINA Korea's call center work without making a bid, citing a recorded phone conversation.
A month after making notification of the new contract with KTcs, LINA Korea posted an announcement that it was receiving open bids for a new call center operator, which Hankook denounced as a "trick to cover up its controversial private deal."
"What is the point of open bidding when they have already selected a winner?" the official said. "There are many other cases in which we were abused by LINA Korea but couldn't make them public for fear of LINA's cancellation."
Hankook also argued it had to hand over its own call center operations system to LINA Korea at a price much lower than the market average, which demanded this in return for keeping the contract.
The company said it filed complaints with the Fair Trade Commission and has been preparing legal action against LINA Korea.
Over this allegation, LINA Korea said Hankook is making false claims.
"First, we did not abruptly cancel the deal to change the operator to KT," a LINA Korea official said. "The deal with Hankook over the call center deal was inked in 2015 and scheduled to end in October. We decided to get a new call center operator as serious doubts had been raised about the managing rights of Hankook."
Hankook is in a conflict between stakeholders over the company's management rights.
"We did not predetermine a call center operator before the open bidding. Also, KT pledged that it would rehire the 600 telemarketers and pay the outstanding bill for the call center office."
The official added that LINA Korea is preparing possible legal action against Hankook's claims, saying the company's reputation has suffered serious damage.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
About Hankook Corporation:
Hankook Corporation is a reputed BPO service provider with expertise in customer service support, contact center solutions and total services in South Korea.
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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