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Call Centers in Crisis After CEO's Crimes

January 03, 2014

By Nicole Spector,
Contributing Writer

Call centers don't exactly scream drama — unless the CEO running them is sent to prison for stealing company funds, in which case you can bet there's going to be some serious emotion. eShowings, a real estate showing appointment services company, finds itself in exactly that scenario. Charles Smith, founder and CEO of the business, plead guilty to 10 counts of “failure to truthfully account for and pay over payroll taxes” between 2007 and 2009, Andrea V, Brambila, of Inman News reports.

Smith was sentenced to 30 months in prison, a term he began serving on December 4. Several days later, the company's two call centers, in Newark, Del. and Wilmington, N.C, respectively, disconnected their phone lines and closed their doors. With the firm's 85 employees out of a job, the company's estimated 14,000 clients out in the cold, a smeared reputation, and no money in the bank — things weren't looking good for the business. Nevertheless, the company appears to be bouncing back.

On December 20, Catherine Lanouette, eShowings new CEO, declared in a press release that the company was "back in business despite an unprecedented number of obstacles thrown in our path." The reopening was backed by the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors, eShowings biggest client. While the future is looking bright, or at least, less bleak for the Wilmington location, details were fuzzy as to whether the Delaware location would also be up and running; Now, however, we can say with certainty that both call centers are in operation.

That both call centers can rebound so quickly after the devastation caused by robbery, payroll theft, wanton employee misinformation, and more, is certainly remarkable, but it take some time before eShowings is on solid ground again. A number of employees are demanding back-wages, which collectively add up to more than $13,000. Some call center workers are also taking steps toward a class-action lawsuit against eShowings. What's more, the Delaware state police are spearheading a full investigation into the various crimes, which could put the company’s recovery on hold for a while. 

Edited by Blaise McNamee