BANGOR, Maine — Verizon Wireless announced plans on Wednesday to close its call center on Telcom Drive in five months, relocating its 218 workers to 16 other centers around the country in what a company spokesman described as a real estate consolidation.
Company managers broke the news to the center’s workers during the day on Wednesday. Verizon spokesman Michael Murphy said the decision had nothing to do with the Bangor center’s performance.
“When we looked across the different real estate options we have, we found we had some extra seating at some of our larger call centers. We are making this move to consolidate as many customer service providers under as few roofs as possible,” Murphy said Wednesday. “Our main message to our employees is, you have jobs available for you if you are willing to relocate to other centers around the country.”
The company will offer options to the 218 workers to relocate to 16 other Verizon call centers around the country if they elect to move, Murphy said. The other center locations include those in Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.
City Manager Cathy Conlow briefed city councilors on the news in an email sent on Wednesday afternoon. Conlow described the move as part of “a national decision,” adding that “3,200 employees of Verizon are affected nationwide.”
“I could not get a specific reason as to why Bangor only” was being closed, Conlow wrote. “The decision is made.”
The center’s last day is March 24. It is among five centers closing nationwide, according to national media reports.
Wednesday’s announcement comes after Verizon, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, said last month that it may shift marketing away from Samsung Electronics Co.’s troubled Galaxy Note 7 mobile phone heading into the critical holiday selling season. Samsung announced a global recall of at least 2.5 million of its flagship Note 7 smartphones in 10 markets in early September due to faulty batteries that caused some phones to catch fire.
The company announced in July that it has posted wireless subscriber gains that missed analysts’ estimates, adding pressure on CEO Lowell McAdam to outline how the $4.8 billion takeover of Yahoo will help the company augment its maturing phone service business.
The company signed up 615,000 total monthly mobile subscribers in the second quarter, mostly tablet users, and trailed the 785,000 estimate average of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. New, more lucrative phone customers came to 86,000, short of the 272,000 projected by analysts.
Verizon had total debt of $99.7 billion as of July.
Growth at the Bangor facility had occurred since Unicel, Verizon’s predecessor, built a two-story, 35,644-square-foot masonry building on Telcom Drive, off Union Street, on about 4 acres in 1997. It originally housed 43 workers.
Verizon Wireless acquired the Bangor call center when it bought the smaller telecom company in 2008. Initially, about 100 customer service representatives were hired and trained, and Verizon had been adding positions steadily since. In April 2010, Verizon Wireless had 198 employees.
Workers will get a $500 stipend and days off to investigate the other Verizon call centers if they choose to. Those who move will receive a $10,000 stipend to relocate, Murphy said.
“The way we’re looking at it is, this gives our employees five months to review their choices, but we also look at it as an opportunity to recruit them in Bangor,” Murphy said. “Traditionally, Verizon Wireless call center employers have fantastic reputations within their communities. They are highly trained and we try and get them to come with us to the other call center businesses.”
Information from Reuters was included in this report.