Friday, May 8, 2009

EBay to close Vancouver customer-service office that employs 700

EBay to close Vancouver customer-service office that employs 700EBay expects to maintain current customer support levels and does not anticipate any disruption to service as a result of the closure of its Vancouver office in September.(CBC)

About 700 jobs will be lost when online marketplace operator eBay Inc. closes its Vancouver office in September, part of its plan to consolidate its North America customer-service facilities.

The Vancouver office, which employs about 700 customer-service agents, will shut down on Sept. 30, the company announced in a news release Tuesday.

EBay intends to hire more employees at its Salt Lake City facility, where more than 900 customer-service agents work, and at some of its other facilities abroad.

It is necessary to close the Vancouver office to improve overall customer service to buyers and sellers in a more "cost-effective way," John Pluhowski, vice-president of corporate communications, told CBC News in a telephone interview Tuesday afternoon.

"EBay is focused on really addressing the evolving needs of our buyers and sellers and providing them with the very best service possible," Pluhowski said. "We believe this consolidation of our service centres will allow us to accomplish that."

The company will try to ensure smooth transitions for its Vancouver employees by giving them a 16-week notification, comprehensive severance benefits and placement services, Pluhowski said.

Doesn't expect service disruption

EBay, the world's largest e-commerce marketplace with 88 million active users, expects to maintain current support levels and does not anticipate any disruption of service as a result of this change, said Chad O'Meara, vice-president of customer-service for eBay Marketplaces.

"We are working aggressively to deliver a better customer experience for eBay buyers and sellers," O'Meara said in the news release. "We believe that consolidating our North America customer service operations will help accelerate our efforts to continually exceed buyer and seller expectations."

Last month, eBay reported a weak economy led to lower earnings and revenue for the second consecutive quarter.

EBay earned $357.1 million, or 28 cents per share, in the first quarter, down 22 per cent from $459.7 million, or 34 cents per share, in the year-ago period.

When excluding items, eBay said it earned 39 cents per share. Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expected 33 cents per share.

Revenue fell eight per cent to $2.02 billion, just above analysts expectations of $1.94 billion.

Revenue from eBay's marketplaces segment — which includes eBay itself and e-commerce sites such as StubHub and — fell almost 18 per cent to $1.22 billion.

With files from The Canadian Press