In addition to a tough job market and depressed conditions throughout the photo industry, Polaroid Corp.'s thousands of former employees face an unusual challenge as they seek new jobs.
Prospective employers must pay a fee and negotiate a complicated voice-prompt phone menu just to verify the employment history of former Polaroid staffers.
For two years the company - which filed for bankruptcy protection in October - has outsourced the service to a Massachusetts firm, Employ- ment Verification Service.
Typically, a company's human resources department will provide the information to a prospective employer at no charge.
But callers to EVS' toll-free number are informed that, to obtain a verification of employment, they must call a 900 number and accept a charge of $5 a minute.
"A full verification will take approximately two minutes," a recorded announcement says.
Those who cannot make calls to 900 numbers or need to make multiple verifications are urged to set up a direct-billing system under which they will be charged $12 for a basic verification and $15 for a full verification.
Skip Colcord, a spokesman for Cambridge, Mass.-based Polaroid, said the employee reference function was contracted out in January 2000 as a cost-saving measure.