OGDEN — America Online cut 170 jobs this week at its Ogden call center in a shake-up of its member services operations.
The affected employees were told Thursday morning, and the cuts were effective immediately.
The cuts in Ogden were part of 425 undertaken by Virginia-based AOL. Also affected were facilities in Oklahoma City, Tucson and Columbus. The Ohio facility, with about 100 employees, will close June 1. Unaffected were centers in Jacksonville, Fla., and Albuquerque.
Ogden still has about 600 AOL employees. The company has about 18,000 workers worldwide.
"In Ogden, we had a number of teams handling a number of different issues," said AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham. "With this consolidation, we're essentially trimming the number of different issues that are being handled out of the call center in Ogden."
Most of the affected employees provided technical support for AOL subscribers. The call center will continue to handle registration of new members and retention of members who have had complaints about their service.
All of the affected call centers will have a narrower scope of duties, whether they involve password or registration assistance, billing or technical issues, Graham said.
"We are changing and reorganizing our member services department, and we're doing so to streamline to better serve our members and more efficiently and effectively respond to their questions and resolve their issues," he said.
The company said late last year it would work to enhance the member experience, improve its product offerings and better manage its business costs.
"Within member services, we are basically consolidating some of our services we provide to customers while eliminating some positions," Graham said. "We needed to centralize some of our core operations within member services to be better and more efficient by assigning specific functions to specific call centers."
The Ogden employees will be provided two weeks' pay and will be offered the chance to reapply for other positions at that call center. If they choose not to reapply or don't have the skills to match the job requirements, they will be offered a severance package with salary and benefits, he said. All affected workers will be provided outplacement services.
The employees were told of the terminations during a meeting near the call center. The company then asked them for their access badges, keys and other company property but allowed the workers to get their critical personal possessions from the call center. Graham described that process as common among large companies when significant layoffs are implemented.
AOL said in late January that for the first time it had lost customers — down 170,000 in the 2002 fourth quarter — and that it had a $99 billion loss for the year.