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Appen and Telus: Once Good Work. What Happened?

Once considered legitimate ways to earn extra money. Internet safety, social media, and search engine evaluator roles at Appen, and Telus International have been popular home jobs for years. These roles typically catered to independent contractors who wanted to enjoy the freedom of setting their own schedule and the opportunity to take on a job title without needing strong communication skills or formal education.

Appeal Factors: Flexibility & Simplicity

The main reasons for their appeal included the flexibility, the simplicity of the tasks, which mostly involved evaluating search engine results or monitoring social media platforms, and the ok pay rates per hour of work. For many, these roles provided a fair earning potential, supplementing full-time jobs.

Straightforward Application Process and Transparent Payments

The application process was relatively straightforward. The first step usually involved providing personal information and demonstrating a common sense understanding of search engines and social media platforms. For some roles, having an Android smartphone was necessary for data collection. Payment proofs were typically provided through a chosen payment method after the completion of tasks, lending transparency to the whole process. For most of the jobs, I got paid on time and didn’t have a problem as long as I put in the work. 

However, in the past year, things took a drastic turn downhill, significantly affecting the roles and the overall job environment. One of the changes started when Telus Corporation took over Lionbridge see the article here. Based on reviews I’ve read on Reddit, it appears that the Telus quality team has become significantly less approachable following the merger.

I can’t provide evidence for everyone’s experience with a company, but I do take note of recurring complaints that are worth considering.

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My Experence with Telus

My personal experience with applying to Telus was rather peculiar. Upon completing the application, I received study materials with what appeared to be a flexible deadline initially. However, to my surprise, in a subsequent email, they abruptly advanced the deadline to the same evening, catching me off guard. I promptly contacted Telus to explain the situation, but they insisted that everything was automated and were unable to provide any assistance. 

Given the unexpected circumstances, I decided against participating in the test. To my astonishment, I later received an email stating that I had “failed” the test, even though I never took it. This entire experience severely undermined my trust in the company, as their lack of organization during the initial process raised doubts about what it would be like to work there.

Investor Concerns Rise as Appen's Share Price and Trading Halt Cause Alarm

Appen’s current share price has been negatively affected, with a significant trading halt causing concern among investors (see article here).  Could it be this issue that led to a series of events that left many evaluators disgruntled? There was a noticeable decline in available hours for contractors, leading to less money and a decrease in overall job satisfaction. Contractors who have worked on the same project for years (including me) have been removed. 

Signs of Trouble

It was easy to see the handwriting on the wall.

  • emails stating hours were slashed from 20 to 10 hours a week.
  • a few weeks later an email stating work was 2 hours a day for 5 days
  • several days and months of no work available.
  • sudden dismissal with no reason.

Social Media Outcry: Growing Complaints and Dissatisfaction

Letting Seasoned Raters Go

The company began engaging in mass firings, specifically targeting older raters, and they significantly reduced wages to a level that fell below industry standards. Additionally, it appears that Appen started acquiring small tech companies, diverting their attention from their core business of human intelligence data collection and evaluation.

Strange Applying Process

The whole recruitment process, too, underwent drastic changes. Where it was once a simple process, it has become more complex and demanding, with many prospective evaluators finding it difficult to secure a consulting agreement. I find that jobs are still offered, but they suddenly disappear or are put on hold.

Downhill Trend?

Telus International, part of the larger Telus Corporation, was once a respected name in the business of crowdsourcing platform services. However, after the alleged downhill trend, many began questioning the company’s strategies and practices.

Discontent at Appen: A Contractor's Tale of Frustration

I have read several statements like this one on indeed, “Kept getting offered project after project after project. Would apply to these offered projects and take the quizzes to be accepted, only to be told more or less: “Um, yeah, we MIGHT let you work this one. We’ll let you know.”
Out of 18 offered projects, I was only able to work ONE. It was only for social media evaluation, but it wasn’t hourly. It was just a questionnaire task. It took about 15 minutes, and you could only do it once every two weeks at 5 bucks a pop.
Today, almost exactly two months after signing on with them, I get an email telling me my contract has been terminated. No reason given and no explanation. But I kept getting offers for new projects AFTER receiving the termination email. So, I messaged them about it; and all they did was repeat the termination email: “Your contract has been terminated. Good luck.”
Worst company I ever had the misfortune of working for”
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Other Complaints from Contractors that I have also experienced:

  • Some new hires will be offered less money
  •  new projects are also impossible to get selected
  • Seasoned raters removed from long-term projects
  • Both Appen & Telus have shorter hours because work runs out
  • It’s rumored that Appen is going in another direction
  • Appen has been reported to cancel a lot of projects.
  • Do not answer tickets or it can take weeks or months. 
  • Jobs applied has an unknown start date

My First-Hand Experience in recent since 2023

  • Received job offers for non-existent projects upon visiting the project page.
  • Applied for multiple jobs, qualified, but found out that the projects were either put on hold or removed.
  • Short assignments lacked clear explanations and instructions from Appen.
  • The support system only consisted of a chat room, where the host was also unclear in providing guidance.
  • Experienced non-payment for a completed project due to unclear instructions, raising concerns about potential exploitation for free work.

Impact on Job Opportunities and Public Perception

These changes have affected not just the search results for job opportunities at these companies but also the way potential employees view them. The news feed on various platforms reflects the disappointment and dissatisfaction of the masses, marking a stark contrast to the positivity these companies enjoyed last year.

3 Things You Can Do

  1. When pursuing another job opportunity, it is wise to ensure you have additional sources of income in place. By diversifying your revenue streams, such as through part-time work, freelance gigs, or other entrepreneurial ventures, you create a safety net in case one job unexpectedly ends. This approach not only provides financial security but also grants you peace of mind, knowing that you have alternative sources of income to rely on in the event of unexpected job instability.
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2. It is crucial to prioritize reading reviews when making decisions. While it is true that some individuals may have personal grievances, if you consistently come across the same complaints, it is likely that there is some truth to them.

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Before making a commitment to a company, it’s crucial to engage in comprehensive research. Dedicate time to actively seek out information about the company and its present situation. In the case of Appen, for instance, I had no prior knowledge of their client losses. Although we cannot predict a company’s future, equipping yourself with knowledge in advance can offer valuable insights and enable you to make an informed decision before finalizing any agreements.

In summary

While I initially enjoyed working for Appen, I soon realized that their priorities did not align with the well-being of their contractors. Although I received steady work and occasional extra assignments as a result of my high performance, companies like Appen often resort to downsizing or outsourcing to cut costs. 

 

As a result, it shouldn’t come as a surprise if you excel in your role and suddenly find yourself removed from the team. If you’re seeking stable employment to sustain your livelihood, relying on Appen or similar rating companies may not be the best option. However, if Appen is merely one of your supplemental income sources, it may be less of a concern. Personally, I plan to seek a reliable job with fewer issues and uncertainties.

Appen and Telus as Work-from-Home Options

The decline in  Appen, and Telus as viable work-from-home options has been a complex issue resulting from a series of unfortunate events, including mass layoffs, low wages, and the shift in business strategy. The once favorable environment of flexible schedules, fair pay, and simple tasks is now replaced with uncertainty and discontent, reflecting a harsh reality on a non-exclusive basis for these once-thriving companies. Hopefully, they will have a comeback and treat their contractors fairly. 

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