Santo Domingo

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…)

(8/19/14) If you are one of the many people using services like EPS to have things shipped to the Dominican Republic you have no doubt been watching with interest the news about the new tax that is suppose to be applied to all online-line purchases.  Well, the good news for now is that the Superior Administrative Tribunal (TSA) has accepted an appeal against the Customs Department (DGA) which has at least for now stopped the tax from being applied.

My biggest worry about this on-line purchase tax was that it would be another reason for customs to open packages and apply random import taxes. At times these import taxes can cost more that what the package is actually worth. While I don’t (more…)

Tropical  Stom BerthaGood news for the drought stricken Dominican Republic. We finally have a we storm coming our way. Bertha which is only the second named tropical storm this year has already provided a little water over the last couple days and the center is expected to make landfall over the eastern Dominican Republic.

For the next 36 hours it is noe expected for tropical Storm Bertha to increase or decrease in strength that include as it passes over the Dominican Republic mountains.

After passing over the Dominican Republic the storm is expected to become a hurricane for a short time, although it is possible for Tropical Storm Bertha to degenerate into a tropical wave. either way it looks to be a wet one while passing over the Dominican Republic and will hopefully ease some of the drought.

At this point Tropical Storm Bertha is not expected to cause flight delays to the major airports  in Santiago (STI), Santo Domingo (Las Americanas SDQ), La Romana (LRM), Punta Cana (PUJ) or Puerto Plato (Gregorio Luperón International Airport  POP).

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…)

The official death toll has reached 59 with cases continuing to rise. The reports of the disease save been scattered through the Dominican Republic, with the many being reported in the Dominican Capital of Santo Domingo.

Dengue is a mosquito born disease that can be avoided with mosquito repellents, screens on window (very unpopular with most Dominicans), and if needed screens over your bed to keep you from getting bit at night (having a fan blowing on you works well too).

To try and combat the spread of this disease trucks have been driving up and down our street spraying mosquito spray into the air. So… (more…)

In the past people wanting to get married in the Dominican Republic outside of the Catholic Church could only get married at the civil registry. For this reason there were often two weddings performed in the Dominican Republic for each couple. The Legal wedding at the registry and a second religious wedding ceremony by a minister at some other location.

A new law now allows other religions to perform the legal marriage ceremony. The first non-Catholic religious marriage ceremony that is also counted as a legal marriage ceremony was held in Santo Domingo for a Jehovah’s Witness couple. While the couple still chose to have the marriage held at the Civil Registry this allowed the ceremony to be to be done by an Elder instead of (more…)

Two Dominican air force pilots died during an air show in Santo Domingo that was held this last weekend (April 6th – 7th). Show Aéreo del Caribe (Air Show of the Caribbean) is an annual air show held each year in the capital of the Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo.

During this years show one of the planes stalled during a low-level maneuver and crashed into the Caribbean sea, killing both pilots. The pilots, from the Dominican Air Force were flying a Pillan T-35b when they crashed about 500 meters from shore.

Caribbean Air Show

The Caribbean Air show in Santo Domingo is a combination of military and non military pilots and planes. In addition to the Dominican Air Force, planes from the United States, Puerto Rico and other nations are invited.

During the last air show in 2011 the list included a (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…)

Well, we’re coming up on Carnival (carnaval in Spanish) season again. While there are carnivals throughout the Dominican Republic one of the oldest and biggest is in La Vega, the largest parade is usually in Santo Domingo and Monti Cristi is know for one of the most unusual festivals. For many this is one of the highlights of the year a month of parades, colorful masks, and a overall sense of abandonment of moral restrictions. This abandonment is what makes the La Vega Carnaval a major tourist attraction but also makes this a rather dangerous time of year for foreigners.

Dangers of Carnival

If you haven’t figured it out yet I’ll state it clearly, I’m not a big fan of the Carnival month of February (more…)

One of the things that surprised me when I first moved to the Dominican Republic is the openly gay community that you find here. While politically the Dominican Republic appears to be rather neutral, the predominant religion of the country Catholicism has historically been, at least publically, against same sex couples. Even with this pressure against this sexual orientation, homosexuality is more prevalent in the D.R than in any other country in the Caribbean.

While in the United States the more showy gay men (flamers) are usually only seen in the larger cities, it is not uncommon to see men in traditionally women’s clothing even in the smaller towns of the D.R. For the most part Dominicans are tolerant of this culture (either locals or foreign visitors), although there is frequent reports of “Gay Bashing”, either verbal or physical, reported in the news. It is not uncommon to meet younger men (15-20 years old) that are obviously experimenting with “alternate lifestyles”, even in the smaller towns.

Like the U.S. homosexuality is even more frequently observed in the larger cities, especially the ones that receive large amounts of tourist traffic. Prostitution, both straight and gay is open and readily accessible in most of the beach and tourist towns. (more…)

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