The Red Guide to Temp Agencies

Review of Update Staffing

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1140 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10036
(212) 921-2200

Total time with agency:

Wait for first assignment:

Average wait between assignments:

Last five jobs:
Job Title Length Client Hourly Wage Typical of agency?

Tests given:
Typing, Word, WordPerfect. Qwiz tests. Must pass typing test first.

Payroll policies:
On-site time sheet pickup:
Direct deposit of payroll checks:
Free check cashing at agency's bank:

Medical insurance:
Dental insurance:
Paid vacation:
Transportation allowance:
Entertainment allowance:
Matching contributions:

Types of jobs reported on -- is it your impression that they were typical of the kinds of jobs this agency had?: Word Processing, cater-waitering

Salary or salary range or salary promised/given: $10/hour

Comments: When I first arrived in New York last fall, I found Update in the phone book and made an appointment. I showed up at the Fifth Avenue address given in the phone book to discover that they had moved three blocks away. I was then kept waiting for a long time before I was tested, and again before I spoke to a counselor.

Update has Qwiz tests for a number of software platforms I knew, but I was not tested for them. They have a rule that you have to type at least 50 wpm to take any other tests. In addition, the Qwiz typing test does not let you backspace past a word boundary. I mention this because Update subtracts errors from your wpm score. I'm sure that if they had a better typing test or less rigid standards I would have had a chance to prove myself on these tests. Their loss.

The counselor was very bubbly and assured me that she could place me very easily. When I told her that I was fluent in French, she was very excited and said that she occasionally got requests for French, and promised to try and find one. Like a wide-eyed country boy, I went home satisfied and waited for the phone to ring. It didn't.

I called back a couple of times in the following weeks and got the runaround each time. Finally I registered with another agency, on a recommendation from a friend. They gave me tests, and gave me work. Two months later, I got a call from Update. They had a job for me, speaking French! I asked for details. My counselor had to call me back with the salary: $9.50, which is underpayment for a bilingual secretary in Malawi, for God's sake. I hesitated, to see how far she would try to string me along. She then called back to say that they had found another temp who could speak French and asked me to fax my resume. I never heard from her again; I guess the other temp had more qualifications than translator certification and college-level teaching experience.

Angus B. Grieve-Smith



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The Red Guide to Temp Agencies is copyright 1994-2004 by Angus B. Grieve-Smith.
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