Sprint cuts at least 1,400 jobs at call centers, other areas

Sprint (NYSE:S) is cutting at least 1,400 jobs across the country, and perhaps more, as it closes call centers, trims jobs related to refurbishing phones and shuts down underperforming retail stores.

Sprint is shutting down three customer care call centers and cutting back operations at three others. The carrier closed call centers in Elmsford, N.Y.; near its headquarters in Overland Park, Kan.; and Sacramento, Calif., and cut back operations at call centers in Orlando, Fla.; Temple, Texas; and another Sacramento facility.

According to Re/code those moves will result more than 1,400 job cuts. "Those reductions come as the result of greater efficiencies that we've achieved through simpler pricing plans and improved customer service--which have resulted in fewer calls to customer service--as well as adjusting to changing marketplace dynamics," a Sprint representative said in a statement to Re/code. The cuts were announced internally at Sprint earlier this week.

However, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that Sprint is cutting 1,550 customer service jobs. CNET further reported that Sprint cut 330 technical consultants, shuttered 150 service and repair centers across the country and shut down 55 of its worst-performing retail stores. In terms of the store closures, the company told Re/code that they are "designed to reinforce Sprint's competitive position in the consumer market" and that 85 percent of workers at stores that will be closed will keep their jobs.

The job cuts are not exactly a surprise, and reflect parent SoftBank's desire to make Sprint more efficient. In January Sprint said it would book a $165 million charge related to job cuts, but did not reveal how many employees it planned to cut as part of a restructuring.

Sprint spokeswoman Melinda Tiemeyer told FierceWireless that the company is "not giving a total number" of jobs that will be cut right now. "We stated in January that we would be going through this process during the first half of 2014," she said. "A final total figure has not been determined, but the majority of reductions are complete."

She said Sprint cut 150 "low-volume Service and Repair (S&R) centers from our full-service stores. These stores will continue to operate as sales-only channels for Sprint.  As we close S&R centers, customers needing service or repair help will be directed to the nearest retail store with S&R capabilities." Tiemeyer said "the changes at retail are designed to reinforce Sprint's competitive position in the consumer market. They also move us toward our goal of sharpening our focus on sales execution and increasing sales productivity."

Tiemeyer had told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the customer service job cuts reflect customers' increasing familiarity with smartphones and simpler rate plans that result in fewer calls to customer service.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Sprint said that on Jan. 16 it started to implement a "workforce reduction plan to reduce costs and better meet the changing dynamics of the marketplace." The company said the cuts are expected to be largely completed by June 30, and will include management and non-management positions. Sprint said at the time that the charge will be for severance and related costs, but that "additional material charges are expected in future periods associated with" the cuts.

After posting its first quarterly net profit since 2007 in the third quarter of 2013, the company swung back into the red in the fourth quarter with a loss of $1.04 billion.

For more:
- see this Fort Worth Star-Telegram article
- see this Re/code article
- see this CNET article
- see this Kansas City Business Journal article

Related Articles:
SoftBank's Son: We can start a 'massive price war' following a Sprint/T-Mobile deal
Sprint to take $165M charge for job cuts
Sprint: We're not bringing back the Nextel brand
Sprint shakes up sales and marketing organizations under SoftBank