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October 2, 20207:17 PM ET


You've probably turned to customer service by phone or email for help. But having full-time customer support agents is expensive. Many of America's best-known companies slash these costs by relying on a growing, secretive industry built on an army of independent contractors who work from home.

For this show, we partnered with the investigative journalists at ProPublica who spent over a year digging into the world of contract customer service work (here's their story). It's life on the other side of your customer service calls, and a glimpse into the troubling future of work in America.

If you've done customer service contract work — get in touch with ProPublica reporters here.

Want more about contract work in the so-called gig economy? Go back and listen to our episodes on class action lawsuits and trucking.

Reporting from ProPublica by Ariana Tobin, Ken Armstrong and Justin Elliott.

Music: "Smoke and Mirrors," "Strip Parade," and "Doctor Dizzy."

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