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Comcast to Close All California Call Centers Due to Outsourcing and the Economy

September 26, 2012
By Amanda Ciccatelli, TMCnet Web Editor

Cable giant Comcast (News - Alert) made an announcement on Tuesday that caught local business officials off guard. The company said it is closing all of its California call centers, including one in Natomas that employs about 300 workers. Comcast informed employees of its North Natomas call center about the closures, saying that employees can relocate to Oregon, Washington or Colorado or severance will be provided.

Earlier on Tuesday, a Comcast official said Natomas, Livermore and Morgan Hill call centers will be shut down on Nov. 30, relocating about 1,000 jobs will to centers in Portland, Seattle and Denver, reported

After State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and the Governor's Office interjected, Comcast said its initial reasons were "incorrect." It said the California closures were needed for cost efficiencies and to consolidate its Western call centers from 13 to 10, based on customer needs, not geography. Also, the company noted that customers rely on self-service, so not as many call centers are needed anymore.

“It is unfortunate that Comcast's announcement to eliminate jobs in California inaccurately placed blame on the state, but I am pleased to see the executives at Comcast taking responsibility and correcting the statement," said Mike Rossi, the governor's senior adviser for Jobs and Business Development, in a statement.

The governor got involved after Steinberg issued an invitation to Comcast for executives to discuss issues and what the legislature could do to resolve concerns. Steinberg said that he was disappointed that Comcast representatives had not contacted his office, which represents the Natomas area, until after the announcement.

“Whenever we hear a company talking about having a difficult time doing business in the region or the state, we'd want to put together a team and go meet with them and resolve the problem," said Robert Burris, senior vice president of SACTO, a regional business and economic development group. "Unfortunately, in this case, we didn't get that opportunity."

Niello cited high income tax rates, regulatory barriers, nuisance lawsuits and wage restrictions that discourage companies from starting there."These centers are expanding, contracting, coming and going in very short cycles of time," said SACTO's Burris.

About 10 years ago, Sacramento r was a call center hiring hub, with 15 large companies like AT&T (News - Alert), Bank of America and Wells Fargo running operations of 100 employees or more, according to Terri Carpenter, spokeswoman for the Sacramento Employment and Training Agency. But over the last few years, with the economy and outsourcing, they have consolidated, moving to out-of-state locations.

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Edited by Jamie Epstein

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