RealTime IT News

AOL Cuts Call Center Jobs

AOL employees are the latest to feel the impact of declining dial-up users. After the Internet company announced losing 835,000 subscribers so far this year, 1,300 call center jobs were cut in three states.

Citing a drop-off in calls, AOL sidelined 7 percent of its workforce. The majority of the 780 layoffs come from the closing of a Jacksonville, Fla., call center.

Three hundred Tucson, Ariz., workers will be cut, as well as 125 Ogden, Utah, call-center employees.

"Call volume is down significantly –- up to 50 percent," Nicholas Graham, AOL spokesman, told internetnews.com. Graham said the AOL of 2006 is far different from that of 1996.

Once known as offering an Internet with training wheels, Graham says the online service and its users have grown. Subscribers have moved beyond taking baby steps to being long-distance runners.

Help that once required several calls to resolve is now being handled with one call, according to Graham. Also, many tools for diagnosing security problems, including viruses and spam, are now available on subscribers' desktops.

While AOL has seen a 50 percent drop in help calls, it also saw U.S. subscribers slip 22 percent since 2004.

In March, AOL reported 18.6 million subscribers, down from a 26.7 million high in 2002.

Ironically, Comcast, a cable company pushing the broadband favored by more and more AOL subscribers, opened a job fair for the laid-off Florida call center workers.

To slow the slide of subscribers, AOL has undertaken several measures, including partnering with Bell South, Verizon and Time Warner to move dial-up users to broadband.

Earlier this month, AOL also said it would join Clearwire in offering AOL High Speed.