eBay has announced it will close its call center in Vancouver, Canada, by the end of September. The move will help the company consolidate its customer service operations in North America, but will leave 700 employees without jobs.
The timing is interesting. Just last month, eBay vowed to improve its customer service by restructuring the dispute resolution process so that cases would be handled internally, rather than through its PayPal payments subsidiary. Meanwhile, eBay says it plans hire more employees at its Salt Lake City office and other facilities around the world to uphold its current customer service levels.
"While it is a difficult decision to close our Vancouver facility, we believe that consolidating our North America customer service operations will help accelerate our efforts to continually exceed buyer and seller expectation," says Chad O'Meara, one of eBay's vice presidents.
Vancouver employees will receive a "comprehensive severance package" and services to help them find new jobs, eBay reports.
Shutting down the office was the most "cost-efficient way" to improve service, according to John Pluhowski, eBay's vice president of corporate communication.
"eBay is focused on really addressing the evolving needs of our buyers and sellers and providing them the very best service possible," he notes. "We believe this consolidation of our service centers will allow us to accomplish that."
eBay reported declines in its 2008 fourth quarter numbers and during this year's first quarter. However, the decision to close the Vancouver office is about providing good, efficient service, not cutting costs, the company stresses.
Last year eBay consolidated its operations around the world by 10 percent with two rounds of layoffs, according to reports. About 1,000 employees were laid off, along with hundreds of temporary workers, and open positions were reduced.
The reduction was meant to "simplify and streamline" the company's organization, improve its cost structure and strengthen the company overall, according to reports.
"We are working aggressively to deliver a better customer experience for eBay buyers and sellers," O'Meara notes.
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Auctiva staff writers constantly monitor trends and best practices of those selling on eBay and elsewhere online. They attend relevant training seminars and trade shows and regularly discuss the market with PowerSellers and other market experts.