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Verizon Begins Wave of Call Center Closures, Layoffs, in Transition to “Home Based Agents”

Phillip Dampier February 26, 2018 Consumer News, Verizon, Wireless Broadband 3 Comments

Verizon has announced a wave of call center closures in several states that will results in layoffs, although some employees will be invited to reapply for their position if they are willing to move to another state or continue their work as a “Home Based Agent” taking customer service calls from a home office.

Verizon is cutting back on customer service call centers, after looking for ways to cut expenses and direct customers to use “self-service” options on Verizon’s website. For those who still want to speak to ‘a real person,’ increased hold times may be the result. Verizon maintains 16 call centers around the country, with at least six scheduled to close and a seventh closure already in progress.

Affected customer service call centers:

  • Mankato, Minn. — Originally a call center for Midwest Wireless and Alltel before being acquired by Verizon Wireless, about half of the estimated 600 workers will be invited to continue as Home Based Agents, while others will be laid off or invited to apply for another position if they are within 90 miles of another Verizon call center and are willing to commute or relocate. Just a few years ago, this call center was desperate to hire new workers, handing out lucrative signing bonuses and other incentives. The center is expected to close by this September.
  • North Charleston, S.C. — Formerly a Montgomery Ward department store, Verizon Wireless repurposed the 150,000 square foot facility and hired up to 1,000 workers when it opened in 2004. About 500 workers are being invited to transition into Home Based Agents, “supporting customers the same way and with similar tools as if they were working from a traditional brick-and-mortar call center,” according to a Verizon spokesperson. Verizon will save almost $2 million a year in rent closing the call center. The layoffs and call center shutdown are expected to be complete by September.
  • Huntsville, Ala. — The call center in Research Park will be shuttered “in the coming months,” with workers invited to participate in the Home Based Agents program. Verizon claims it will cover “most” of the equipment and supplies needed to work from home, and will pay a stipend of $65 a month for internet access. But other ongoing home office-related expenses, including electricity, furniture, insurance, and other related costs will the employee’s responsibility.
  • Albuquerque, N.M. — Verizon Wireless will shut down its 197,000 square foot call center by October 2019, with workers selected for its Home Based Agents program transitioned out of the building by May of 2019. At least 1,000 workers are likely affected. The call center cost $30 million to open in 2006 and by 2009 employed 1,600 workers.
  • Hilliard, Ohio — A Verizon call center that formerly absorbed a lot of displaced Verizon call center employees across the region is itself shutting down by November of this year. Qualified workers are invited to continue as Home Based Agents. Verizon employees complain Home Based Agents lack job security and are usually among the first to be laid off in any future downsizing actions. Some recommend relocating to another call center instead of working from home.
  • Little Rock, Ark. — Verizon has informed its 600 Little Rock call center employees they are shutting down the office by this October, and workers that want to stay with Verizon will be able to transition to a work-at-home model or apply for a job elsewhere in the company.
  • Franklin, Tenn. — Already downsizing, this call center will be shuttered sometime this year, with workers invited to apply for the Home Based Agents program. But some workers with experience working from home warn there are significant downsides: “You can’t relocate to another call center or move to the Home Based Agents program if you are on ‘corrective action’ (for attendance or performance),” said one worker. Those employees will lose their jobs and receive severance packages. “Moral of the story, don’t let yourself get an attendance warning for your kids having the flu [thinking] ‘I will [accept a write-up]’ because if your center closes, you cannot relocate.”

Verizon spokesperson Jenny Weaver told the Albuquerque Journal a very different story about home agents.

“At other places, we’ve found it’s a satisfaction driver for employees,” Weaver said. “Happy employees translates to happy customers, so we’re excited about this.”

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5 years ago

Hmm…I mean hypothetically were they KEEPING the people, and if they were all treated as well as they would be at a physical place, it’s not terrible.

Of course they’re firing tons AND are probably treated like garbage regardless of where they work :-/

5 years ago

Are these all wireless offices or both landline and wireless?

5 years ago
Reply to  Donna

These are wireless offices.

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