Santiago


While passing through Santiago and Santo Domingo I’m sure you have seen signs say something like “If you can read this you can work here”. If so, in all likelihood you just passed by a call center. Maybe you’ve wondered if that might be a good way to get some supplementary income while you stay in the Dominican Republic. While most of my experience is on the public side of the phone call and not the calling side I do have enough experience on the calling side to know that not everyone is cut out for the call center life.

You however, may be one of the exceptions to the rule so let’s talk about what you might be able to expect and what some of the better possibilities are. Most of my experience comes in two forms; Outgoing calls or sales calls, mostly with insurance sales and incoming calls as a technical service representative. Both of these jobs have their pros and cons.  There are also other categories that may be more of a blend between these two like inbound presales which is often done with chat software and a computer terminal instead of a phone. There is also Social Site interaction where your job is more in the line of going to sites mentioning your product (either social sites like Facebook and twitter or even personal blogs), and answering questions and handling complaints.

Call Center Reviews

Before deciding on working for a call center it would be a good idea to search for online reviews of the company you are thinking of working for. There is a huge difference in companies! While most reviews are going to be negative read through them anyway to see what the complaint was. Unfortunately, people usually done write a call center review unless they are upset with the company, however reading what they were upset about will help you determine if this might be a problem for you.

Types of call Centers

Call centers can be broke up into several different types.

  • Small 2-150 chair centers: Yes, even a couple people sitting at desks with phones is often considered a call center here. These are almost always very low paying and higher than average stress. You can expect between 8,000 – 10.000 pesos a month for full time work with little or no benefits. These will usually promise much higher pay because there will be some commission involved. Most of the time they are pushing low quality products that are hard to sell so very few people if anyone will make the high wages they promise.
  • Company owned Customer Service Centers: These will usually be the better jobs. The pay is higher, training is better and there are usually good benefits. Your job will usually entail interpreting a customer’s problem (or soothing a complaint), doing a quick computer search for the answer and reading it to them. Difficult problems are then passed on to the next level of tech. While there can be some stress because everyone you talk to has a problem and just endured the dreaded automated answering machine, once you get started they often calm down and you can have a friendly session.
  • Third Party Call Centers: These are large call centers that have thousands of employees and contract with other companies. Some of these are pretty good and offer good benefits. Benefits may include health insurance, paid vacations, sick pay, incentive programs discounts and bonuses, and a host of personal “quality of living” benefits and services. The pay is often less than the company owned call centers but is not bad for this area.

Call Center Contact info

I won’t bother listing any of the small call centers, there are tons of them, they often don’t last long and you probably don’t want to work there.

Here is a list of some of the larger Third party call centers. Most will be located in Santiago or Santo Domingo. (more…)

(10/23/13) This is the second day of a planned strike in the Northern Section of the Dominican Republic. The strike was originally called for Castillo, Bonao and San Francisco, but this has also sparked violence in Esperanza, Hato del Yaque, and Canca la Reina, in southern Espaillat province. Several people have been shot and four are confirmed dead with two of the deaths happening due to gunfire in Santiago and Navarrete.

With the protests happening in such a widespread area it would appear that people from other cities are deciding to join in on the welgas and protests. As is always the case, when you are out and about whether in service or your daily activities it is a good idea to watch what is going on around you.

For your safety, avoid areas where people are starting to gather rapidly. This is often a sign that something is happening and people are gathering around to watch. These crowds of people can spring up quickly and if you are nearby it is best to stay away.

Places to Avoid

While San Francisco and lately Bonao frequently have protests or as they are called here Welgas, most towns and cities have them at times making it important to pay attention wherever you are. That makes choosing particular cities to avoid difficult. If you are new to the DR (more…)

We frequently have friends and relatives flying into the Dominican Republic which brings up a topic of safety. Is it safe to fly into the Dominican Republic with a nighttime arrival? Often to save money this is something we have to deal with, in general the answer is no. It is best to get a flight that arrives during daylight hours, but there are ways around this problem.

Best price Flights

The single most expensive part of your trip to the DR is likely to be your flight. It is pretty common to be able to save hundreds of dollars on your round trip ticket by adjusting your takeoff and arrival dates. Often though you can find much cheaper flights on late night arrivals. Most people don’t want to have to deal with getting a taxi to the resort or their final destination in the middle of the night. However this posses several safety issues in the Dominican Republic.

Dangers of Nighttime travel in the Dominican Republic

Unfortunately the streets are not very safe at night in the DR. The US consulate highly recommends to avoid driving at night here for good reason. Vehicles are often not (more…)

When you’re sitting in the Caribbean sipping your Rum and Coke or Pina Colada you really don’t expect to be thinking about how a snow storm is going to affect your vacation. That is until you remember your return flight or flight taking to the Dominican Republic takes you through New York. As of noon today (Friday the 8th of Feb) over 3000 flights were canceled around the New York and Boston areas (over 1000 in New York Alone) with more than 60 airports already affected. And at this point the storm has just begun. This affects all flights going to New York from Santo Domingo, Punta Cana, La Romana, Santiago, and Puerto Plata.

The main snowfall from winter storm Nemo is expected to come in the late afternoon to early evening and things are expected to taper off by noon Saturday.
JFK Friday Morning

My wife and I were sitting in the airport in New York this morning hoping our flight was going to make it out before the winter storm Nemo hit. As we watched the snow starting to fall many of our fellow passengers were starting to get anxious. By 7am in the morning airport employees were starting to mention the possibilities of delays and cancellations of flight within the next new hours.
Something else you don’t often see at the airports in the Dominican Republic (more…)

Villa Gonzalez Assembly hall of Jehovahs Witnesses

Villa Gonzalez Assembly hall of Jehovahs Witnesses

For many the main reason for coming to the Dominican Republic is to help people improve their lives and have a better hope for the future. The bible education work is a principle part of the lives of Jehovah’s Witnesses that come to the DR to work as Missionaries or Need-Greaters. Often the highlight of their visit is going to an assembly either in one of the native languages of the Dominican Republic like Spanish and Creole or in one of the other growing foreign languages of the DR like English, Russian, Chinese and French.

There are two Assembly halls or Salón de Asambleas in the Dominican Republic for the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Testigos de Jehová in Spanish. One is in Santo Domingo and is attached to the Bethel Branch office and the other is located in Villa Gonzalez near Santiago.

Getting to the Assembly Hall

If you are taking local transportation to get to the assembly hall you will likely be arriving into Santiago using one of the GuaGua companies like Expreso Quinto Patio, or one of the larger tour busses like Expreso Vegano or Caribe Tours. The smaller guaguas will normally drop you off at various locations. Ask them to drop you off at the “Parada de Villa González” at “Treinta de Marso”. This is the GuaGua bus stop that heads out to Villa González and will pass right past the assembly hall.

Assembly hall entrance from Highway 1

Assembly hall entrance from Highway 1

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American Airlines - American EagleSince moving to the Dominican Republic my family and I have had many opportunities to test out the various airlines that service the DR. American Airlines has never been our favorite. Several of the planes American and American Eagle use are very crowded (I’m 6’1”), the lines for the ticket and check in counters are always among the longest at the airport and on the majority of my trips to the States I’ve had to wait at least once while they work on some equipment failure. Since American Airlines filed bankruptcy back in November of 2011 things have continued to get worse.

Before I continue Yes, there are a number of other companies that fly out of the DR including Delta and JetBlue (my favorite), however, flights to California for a family of 4 are pretty expensive. The difference in ticket prices from the different airlines can be as much as $200 – $300 per ticket. That adds up when you are working with four tickets at a time. So, we usually try for one of the lower priced tickets at the time we want to fly which at times is American Eagle. Given the choice we will usually pay a little more so we can fly with JetBlue but this time the difference was too high.

So, let me describe our most recent experience. Given the choice we will usually pay a little more so we can fly with JetBlue but this time the difference was too high so ”bite the bullet” and book with American.

Santiago International Airport (STI)

Santiago International Airport (STI). For this flight only my wife and one of my sons were heading out. So I unloaded their bags helped them check in and went up to the second floor observation lounge to wait to make sure they got through customs alright. Usually when heading out of Santiago customs goes easily and this time was no exception. The plane though was a different story.

While sitting up in the lounge I noticed them struggling with the door to the plane. There are two main doors on the front of the plane one swung out and the other appeared to move in and then slide over. The main door that they use is the sliding door. While I wasn’t watching for the unloading part, apparently they couldn’t get the door to open and they used a second staircase truck to unload everyone out the other door.

This was actually pretty entertaining as they hammered on the door, tried prying it, shouldered it a couple times, jabbed screwdrivers into the rolling mechanism, and then finally called some sort of tech support (I couldn’t hear anything but it was a rather animated conversation punctuated by occasional rattling of the door. (more…)

Lifestyles Resort Puerto Plata

Lifestyles Resort Puerto Plata

UK to Dominican Republic Travel Tips

The Dominican Republic is one of the most important Caribbean islands and one of the preferred holiday destinations for many UK holidaymakers. According to the Dominican authorities, more than 200,000 British tourists visit this Caribbean nation each year, and it is not difficult to understand why.

Although relatively small in size, this island offers a variety of attractions that go beyond its beaches and nightlife. The Dominican Republic is home to no less than 14 national parks and to numerous historical towns and villages that will delight the visitor with their rich heritage. The island’s capital, Santo Domingo, is a designated UNESCO site thanks to its well preserved examples of colonial architecture. There are 26 golf courses located in some of the island’s most stunning locations, and as a result, the Dominican Republic is a premier destination for golf enthusiasts from all over the world.

And of course, there is the beach life. The coastal towns of Puerto Plata, Punta Cana, and La Romana are home to miles of beaches of breathtaking beauty, which are often the backdrop for weddings, honeymoons, and other special occasions. The popular resorts of the coast also make for a great base from which it is possible to explore other destinations, like the coffee growing mountains of the interior and other less well-known fishing villages on the island’s eastern coast.

However, being 9 hours away from the United Kingdom, the Dominican Republic still remains a long haul destination, and as such, booking a holiday to this Caribbean island can be an expense that turns out heavy on the pocket. If you are planning the holiday of a lifetime in the Dominican Republic and want to know how to go about finding the best deals to the island, this article will tell you everything there is to know about it.

Tips for finding the best deals from the UK to the Dominican Republic

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Due to the hurricane predictions for Tropical Storm Isaac, JetBlue is allowing for a fee waver for passengers that want to make flight changes to and from Punta Cana, Santiago, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plato, and La Romana.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to have hurricane force winds by the time it reaches the Dominican Republic later today causing delays to flights to Dominican international Airports.

For more information on JetBlues ticket fee waver you can go to (more…)

Due to the path of Tropical Storm Isaac, American Airlines has already made updates to their Caribbean Travel Policy (see link below) allowing ticket holders to change their flights to and from La Romana, Dominican Republic (LRM), Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (PUJ), Santiago, Dominican Republic (STI) and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic (SDQ) as well as other destinations in the Caribbean.

As per the AA website if your travel date is between August 22-26, 2012 and was issued no later than Aug 22, 2012 you can change your travel date to between Aug 22-26 and the ticket reissue charge will be waved for one ticket change. You can call their 800 number to make the change at 1-800-433-7300.

Tropical Storm Isaac is expected to reach Punta Cana Thursday and may have reached hurricane force winds by this time. Punta Cana is at this time at a tropical storm watch with the rest of the northern part of the Dominican Republic while the southern part of the Dominican Republic is at a hurricane warning. The storm is still too far out to know where the center of the storm is going to pass.

There is a greater likelihood of Isaac producing hurricane force winds for La Romana, Boca Chica, Santo Domingo and other cities on the .southern coast of the DR.

We will be continuing to post updates (more…)

I am finding more and more foreigners that are buying Real Estate in the Dominican Republic. While I favor renting for many reasons, many people are taking advantage of the great Real Estate prices here, coupled with the good conversion rate between the US dollar and the Dominican peso which is currently about 38 pesos to the dollar.

Buying Real Estate in the DR poses several risks that are not usually a problem in the US. I’ll be going over many of these as this post progresses. Along with the additional risks there are other things you need to consider. It basically comes down to the necessity of taking your time and investigating the property before you make a purchase.
Prices

First thing to know is if you only speak English you are very likely to end up paying more for the property than you would if you can speak the local language, Spanish. This is the same whether you are planning on renting or buying a property. Personally I like to look around a bit, than have a Dominican friend come in at a different time and ask the price. He will usually be able to get the same property for at times as little as half the price.

Power and Water

It is important to understand that the utilities here are not near as good as in most countries. The voltage at a house I have rented in the past varied from 70 volts (sometimes less) to over 150 volts. (more…)

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