Massive Layoff At Dell Call Center

Dell’s Oregon based call center experienced a massive layoff this morning, according to KPIC. All of the employees were herded into a conference room and told that their positions had been eliminated.

From KPIC:

The managers, some of whom also lost their jobs today, explained there would be a severance package for each employee, a Job Fair on Monday by FirstCall Resolution Call Center, resume’ classes and counseling and some comparable jobs within the company elsewhere.

Tears and sobs were heard amidst some angry outbursts as those on duty left.

One employee heard about his lay-off on his honeymoon today, others came in for later shifts only to find out their job was gone.

According to Dell liason Scott Stevens, 220 lost their jobs this morning and were told of a severance package and options.

Dell is quoted as having said that the layoff was part of a “global” 10% reduction of their workforce.

Massive layoff at the Dell call center
[KPIC]

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  1. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    How much do you want to bet that 10% of their officers *aren’t* getting the boot.

  2. beyond says:

    I didn’t know you needed a resume to get a call center job.

  3. mopar_man says:

    Now that 220 Americans have lost their job, I bet 220 Pakistanians/Indians will be getting a new job.

  4. Clobberella says:

    I hate companies that pull crap like this. They expect you to give them two weeks notice when you quit, but God forbid they extend you the same courtesy. This reminds me of a call center I used to work for (also in Oregon, incidentally.) The company went bankrupt, didn’t tell anyone, and one day about a month later calls just stopped coming in and everyone, management included, had to leave. They had even been hiring new people until up to a week before it happened! And there were no severence packages of any kind, just a few hundred people out of a job. These companies KNOW they’re going to be letting people go; I don’t understand why they feel they have to wait until the last possible second to tell people.

  5. ThomFabian says:

    @Clobberella:
    In this case though, Dell is giving them a severence package which I’d imagine is more than 2 weeks salary.

    Why do companies feel the need to wait until the last second to tell folks their fired? Isn’t that fairly obvious? They do so because You don’t want John Smith to be carrying out business in your name when he’s ticked your firing him. So, in general you pay John Smith not to come to work for a few weeks.

  6. chipslave says:

    At least they weren’t emailed about losing their jobs like Radio Shack did.

  7. boandmichele says:

    @mopar_man: for once, i agree with you.

    –proud ex-dell employee from nashville, also laid off.

  8. raybury says:

    One company I worked for had a severance policy of paying two weeks “notice pay” in addition to two weeks’ pay per year of service (capped). This was a decent policy, especially in a right-to-work state, if you have to have a severance policy at all.

  9. Cowboys_fan says:

    They did this in my call center once too, they laid off roughly 1/2 of management. Those who were off work were called in for an emergency meeting. Also the non-managers were informed via email they would all lose 25% of their hours. The worst part was HR made all the layoff slips, and the lady was told to leave the last one blank – turns out the blank one was for her!

  10. zeitguess says:

    Same thing happened to me at another company. Call center moved to another state. A few folks followed their jobs only to have that call center close a couple years later and all the jobs went to Bangalore. I think it’s crap what has happened to the Dell and Radio Shack call centers, but you HAVE to see it coming. If you work in any kind of telephone or online customer service, expect to be outsourced.

  11. Hawk07 says:

    @Cowboys_fan:


    You need to get her to post her story here.

  12. lowlight69 says:

    well if we are going to share layoff stories. :)

    1) my friend was the IT manager for the small company i worked for, he told me the layoffs were coming, i had some friends in the bay that started a company so i left the week before layoffs were announced. only because i knew the IT guy and they were secretly backing up all employee PC’s did i know about this.

    2) the company in the bay. we made routers, we were going to sell them to telcos, anyone remember worldcom? so i got hit in the second round of layoffs. company meeting on Monday, CEO says there would be a big RIF, meetings were ongoing to decide who would go. final announcements on Wednesday. i had two days notice, it still sucked.

    3) i started working for another startup, small security outfit. started in december, come feb we get an email about an unannounced company meeting in less than an hour. i walk over to buddy and we agree, big layoff. less than an hour later i was without a job. this one sucked less.

    i was used to it by then. i just missed a layoff by a week, to get laid off, to get laid off again. but hey, that was a few years ago. still had ups and downs, i’m sure we’ll have more in the future. warning or no warning, getting laid off sucks, there is no way around that.

  13. homerjay says:

    Am I the only one that is surprised that Dell even HAS a call center located in the states?

  14. D-Bo says:

    I’m from Oregon and this closure will hit the city of Roseburg hard. In Southern Oregon many jobs were lost with the fall of the timber industry. In the last 10 years there has been a trend of call centers coming into these towns and the state has trained many displaced workers for work in call centers. Sad to see that it is happening all over again for those people, but I can’t say I’m the least bit surprised…

  15. Chicago7 says:

    Maybe Dell could save some money by not sending their stupid catalog out to people who don’t want it. I’ve requested that they stop sending me the catalog THREE times and I got one yesterday.

    /I’ve never ordered ANYTHING through their catalog, but I still get one every three weeks or so.

  16. MercuryPDX says:

    @Clobberella: Both Oregon and Washington are “AT WILL” states. If you wanted to walk off a job w/o the customary two weeks notice, there’s nothing stopping you.

    In a ‘small town’ like Portland though I’d thoroughly advise against it. Burning bridges tends to leave one stranded. ;)

    I was laid off on 7/13 from a certain Domain Registrar located in Vancouver. They told me my position was going to be outsourced because it was cheaper. As asinine as it was for them to tell me that, I put on my best face and made light of the situation. I got three weeks severance.

    Point is… it’s been way easier finding a job through networking than it would be had I pissed off people at every agency I worked before.

    I know a few developers who wound up either moving or changing careers because of dick-ish behavior.

  17. Clobberella says:

    @ThomFabian:
    That’s true, but it works the other way as well. In my experience, at least, when you give your two weeks it gives the boss a great excuse to cut your hours and otherwise treat you like garbage.

  18. Anonymous says:

    @mopar_man:

    220? Nah, try a 1000.

    …and it’ll save money, too.

  19. Clobberella says:

    @MercuryPDX:

    I know you don’t have to give notice, but they expect it. I’ve interviewed with plenty of places who specifically ask if you’ve ever quit a job without giving notice. (At which point I smile and say “of course not!” and hope that nobody checks.) If a company is going to use that information as a condition of hire, then I expect the same from the company if they are going to lay me off. Severence is fine, and I suppose these Dell people did get it. I think I’m just bitter cause I didn’t. :)

  20. beedle23 says:

    I’ve worked call center management for > 10 years and before that I was an agent.

    One thing I’ve noticed is that call volume drops off 3-5 months before the economy takes a hit.

    Guess what has dropped a few months ago?

    It really is all about the numbers – I feel bad for the people laid off but I’m sure some saw the signs….

  21. superbmtsub says:

    Three simple truths:
    1. Severance packages are better than nothing.

    2. Technical Call Center job positions require resumes unless you don’t want to get hired.

    3. This is a good time to get laid off. You get to enjoy the rest of the summer doing something other than work. I got laid off from my prev job at the beginning of summer. What did I do? Go to Maui to take a break from work related stress.

  22. TNT says:

    Meanwhile, Comcast hired 6,000 people in the 2nd quarter, many of them in the call centers.

  23. TNT says:

    Oops… the article on 2nd quarter earnings I read actually said “6,000 employees this year.” I think that means during the first half, but it may mean for all of 2007.

  24. humphrmi says:

    @Clobberella: And in fact, most companies who your potential employer would call will not tell them whether you left with notice or not. In fact, most companies today won’t say anything other than confirming that (A) you worked for them, and (B) you don’t now. Anything more, and you can pretty much guarantee someone will sue them.

    Companies don’t give notice because they don’t want some borderline Michael-Douglas-in-Falling-Down going postal on them. So instead, the classier joints give severance, and the schlubs screw you. C’est La Vie, you can do the same to them.

  25. swalve says:

    This was probably a higher tier call center. Business customers and partners usually go to a native english speaker right off the bat. That’s why Optiplex/Latitude costs more.

    I love calling HP (as an HP Partner), because I almost always get a delightful midwestern or Canadian lilt.

  26. swalve says:

    What happens in non at will states?

    This might be something to negotiate during the hiring process. What’s expected and what’s required, if they require a two week notice, you should negotiate for the same (or equivalent pay).

    I think many companies are moving toward not really caring. If you give notice, they want your ass out now so you’re not wrecking morale and wreaking havoc. My company does that (along with black-ops style layoffs: there one minute, gone the next), and while it’s a bit unsettling, morale remains fairly high even when 1/3 of the company got wasted in 2002.

  27. raceroh says:

    Dell lays off 220 and then tries to curry public favor offering 200 systems split between the county and school district…and when tech help is needed for future problems please don’t call a neighbor ,there is a warm body in new dehli waiting to solve the problem.This is progress this is nafta ,this is gatt,but look on the bright side ,no more reading from a script,carpal tunnel,listening to the drone of customer complaints and stale pop tarts in the vending machine.I guess you better refire the lumber industry and the hell with the spotted owl.

  28. Msgundam84 says:

    This is complete bullshit. Dell is fully aware that their customer
    service sucks. Rather than try to fix it they close down a calling
    center in the states for one which will likely be relocated in
    India/Pakistan.

    Now I’m Indian myself, but I’d rather have my people working and
    engineering the computers and software as opposed to ‘talking tech
    support’ to me. I’m Indian, and even I have a hard time understanding
    them!

  29. bnissan97 says:

    Dell sucked at Customer Service before. Just imagine what it is going to be like now with less staff.

  30. bnissan97 says:

    There Customer Service was horrible before they laid people off. Now is is going to be that much worse!

  31. swalve says:

    raceroh- pure genius.

  32. Notice the colorfully inane new brand advertising coming from Dell corporate? It’s intersting that there’s money to waste presenting meaningless media to anybody who has the misfortune of flipping past the ads in a glossy magazine, but not enough money to ensure a qualified, internally-managed customer service center staff? Methinks they’ve got the brand picture a bit backwards. Actions like this are related to the latest product recalls, in that they’re both examples that make us ever-more aware that companies would rather distract and lie to us with brand image instead of ensuring that brand experience — i.e. reality — is worth our time and money. I wonder what the long-term implications will be for companies that exhibit this disconnect between what they DO and what they SAY? I’ve written about it a bit on Dim Bulb if you want to check it out, at [dimbulb.typepad.com.]

  33. rewinditback says:

    best news i’ve heard all day. they have the worst customer service i’ve ever experienced…

  34. dbeahn says:

    @mopar_man: “Now that 220 Americans have lost their job, I bet 220 Pakistanians/Indians will be getting a new job.”

    Um, no. To replace 220 American workers, you need at least 660 Indian workers. No, I’m not kidding. I spent several months in New Delhi training Indian call center workers.

    It’s still cheaper to hire 660 (or 880) Indians than to hire 220 Americans.

    The difference is that the American workers will get the job done. Overseas centers don’t.

  35. savvy9999 says:

    As a former Dell employee, I can tell everyone that this is nothing new. Whenever the stock needs a 10% boost, people get RIFed. Impresses the analysts.

    During a particularly big RIF in the early 200s, Dell set up a butcher shop right in my building on Braker Lane in Austin, TX. Had bulletproof glass, guards, all that.

    Unknowing sheeple would get called to a meeting there, sat down and forced to sign some severance/NDA papers (or not get a dime), have a quick token meeting with a ‘career counselor’, and told to hit the road.

    I’d stand outside during a smoke break, see smiles of the workers on the way in, tears and disbelief on the way out.

  36. Jerim says:

    @Msgundam84:

    Interesting take. We keep hearing how elite India’s tech people are, but it seems that all that tech knowledge is only being used to fill entry level positions. I am sure there are lots of upper level jobs, but with so many potential candidates, a lot of the graduates end up manning the phones. It may be viewed as the first step in working your way up, but I am sure that many people will find themselves stuck there for their entire career. Which is fine, since even tech support is a step up for a lot of people. It is just that tech support is not what most US graduates would aspire to.

  37. mrjimbo19 says:

    It’s kind of sad how people loose there job in these situations but as others have pointed out at least they are being offered some type of severance vs just being let go. They would be perfectly within the right of the employee/employer relationship to just term them and not worry about it.
    Now for a little rant, I work on the tech side and spending has slowly been reduced over the last few years but demand is still high, we are selling more products but margins and operating capital has been dropping. People are not willing to spend more then the minimum to get things running and as such tech support has had to adjust by reducing costs while keeping the amount of calls able to be handled high. I would classify this as a chicken/egg scenario did people want rock bottom prices or did the industry want to raise margins first?

  38. WNW says:

    I have a lot of friends who worked at this call center, I used to live in Roseburg. Here are a couple things the article didn’t mention:

    1. This was a sales center, not tech support. If you called Dell to buy a computer you got these guys.

    2. This call center opened 5 years ago. They were given 5 years of tax breaks as an incentive to open in Roseburg…

    Roseburg was a logging town and there are no jobs there anymore. The only other large employer is a book warehouse who, when I subjected myself to working there, were very aware of their status and lorded it over their employees.

    I’m very happy I moved away.

  39. andrewsmash says:

    @WNW: This is what gets me. The fact that companies go shopping for tax breaks, and then screw the communities without so much as a warning. There are so many greedy communities out there (I’m looking at you, Beaverton) willing to offer their land and their populations as meat for the grinder in order to appease a corporation that only results in a couple of hundred jobs for five or six years, and then takes off, leaving the community to deal with unemployment and a giant, ugly-ass building. This is not how you build a stable community.

  40. humphrmi says:

    @andrewsmash: I wouldn’t say that the companies screw communities without so much as a warning. If a community writes a contract for a five year tax break, they’d better assume that at the end of five years, things will change, unless they write another contract. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dell were using these layoffs as leverage to renew a tax brak deal with Roseburg.

  41. WNW says:

    @andrewsmash:

    Well, at least in Roseburg they don’t have to deal with an ugly-ass building. They were working out of a former super market.

  42. bradgwart says:

    It will be good for Dell to be rid of sites like this. Yes it is awful to get layed off, but as a former Dell employee I know that these were the problems with Dell’s support and services.

    Take my department as an example. We were Gold Technical Support. This was only for businesses. When the department started we could do nearly anything for a custmer. They have a problem with a third party vendor who wants to charge for support? No problem, whip out your corporate credit card and pay for it. Anything was done to make the customers happy. On top of this the contract for GTS states that the support will always be in America. No outsourcing. Do you remember when Dell advertised as having “the number support and services in the world”? This department was the reason. There were intelligent techs working there. People with MCSAs and CCNAs On top of it all they were well payed.

    Gradually the department grew. More and more people wanted the fantastic level of support. As the department grew so too did the techs being to loose the ability to go the extra ten miles for the customer. It was gradually reduced to a script like call center, but still they only hired certified technicians and still people received quality support. Once the department got too big for those of us in Round Rock to handle they started looking at ways to expand the tech base, but for not nearly as much money. In the fall of ’05 they opened the Twin Falls, ID site. Here they paid poorly. The small business (low profit) customers were sent here to the low quality techs. The high quality techs were still assisting everybody else. Eventually this too was not enough. In spring of ’06 they opened a GTS department in Nashville, TN. They sent the medium and small businesses (low profit) here, as well as Twin Falls.

    The largest reason for this is because the small and medium businesses account for the largest amount of calls in the department, but they also account for the least amount contracts purchased. So they came up with an alternative to India and outsourced to cheaper areas of America, got their tax breaks, and made more money.

    Now that Mr. Dell is back in control I believe you’ll see a return to good customer service, a return to good support. Though I highly doubt they bring jobs back from India. Unfortunately the Oregon site was one of these that had to go. I’m sorry these people lost their jobs, but it I feel it’s neccesary to get back to what Dell used to be known for.

  43. mattarse says:

    You know the wonderfull thing about Dell in Czech republic….. Like all other companies they have to give 2 months notice or pay for any layoffs.
    Employees should have some protections, and employers should have some responsibility.