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2010-01-13 at 13:39

StarTek closing

By Jamie Smith
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Thunder Bay will have almost 200 more people looking for work after StarTek announced Wednesday it will close its doors at the end of March.

By March 31, all 192 employees will be let go and the company’s Victoriaville Centre-based facility will cease operations. StarTek director Susan Padley said the news came as a surprise to her and her staff.

"We were all in shock for a bit and then we got past that and realized we have to rely on each other," Padley said. "No one’s happy about it… it was a tough, tough day but they’re tough people."

Padley said the reason for the closure is a lack of clients at the contact centre. While Padley couldn’t say much about what the centre does specifically for clients, she said they offer inbound customer service.

"It’s all client driven and we won’t have the work at the and of March therefore we can’t do business here."

The business let go 20 probationary positions Wednesday while the remaining positions, almost all full-time, will face reduced hours.

Padley hopes employees can benefit from the company’s offer to help with interviewing skills and resume building so they will have new jobs before the centre closes.

Padley said she’s proud of her employees. Some have been with the company since it opened in Thunder Bay four years ago.

"It’s our second family here. Work is your second family so our family is going through quite the ordeal today," Padley said. "It’s just an unfortunate business decision."

Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce president Harold Wilson said he’s disappointed to see such a large chamber member like Startek leave the city. News of the closure caught him by surprise as well Wilson said.

"It is unfortunate, we just got the news like everybody else did," said Wilson. "It is something that is happening quite a lot right now (around Ontario)."

Wilson hopes that the large newly-renovated space that StarTek is leaving will attract other businesses to the city.

"I’m quite positive that we can have a phoenix rise from the ashes," Wilson said. "I’m really hopeful that these employees in the short term can find something else but that it does provide an opportunity for a possibility to attract another contact centre or more."

StarTek Inc is a publicly traded company based in Denver. They have 20 centres in North America, Costa Rica and the Philippines. Click here to submit a letter to the editor.

Click here to report a typo or error

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We've improved our comment system.
westfort says:
Oh great...more jobs gone from Thunder Bay. I would be they're headed to some overseas country. Startek is going to help with job fairs? Wow...BFD. There are little to no jobs here, and taxes continue to go up...what are these people supposed to do? Leave is most likely their only solution.
1/13/2010 1:57:38 PM
royalelevator says:
This is nothing but pure corporate BS, 3rd party vendors like this are nothing but legal scabs, just above prison labour. Employees of these companies do the same job as actual employees of the source company yet are paid less and have no union protection or respresentation. Don't get me wrong, the real offenders here are the source companies (in this case the company that just bought 'the source'), but given that the person that you're trying to get your rebate, bill balance or new tv channels from has no reason to have any kind of loyalty to the company that they represent (in name only).
1/13/2010 2:07:50 PM
BlingBling says:
Im Gonna miss startekk... DOMINION MOTORS!!!!
1/13/2010 3:50:42 PM
twolvefan says:
royalelevator - you obviously do not have any any insight whatsoever into what actual Bell employees in Thunder Bay do. To say these "sudo" Bell employees do the same quality of work as a actual employee of Bell in Thunder Bay is a very comical statement. There may be some Startek employees that try their best to achieve a respectable quality of work, but in most cases they leave a series of messes for "actual" Bell employees to correct and resolve. In the future please have your facts before making such uninformed statements.
1/13/2010 4:01:35 PM
ibrando says:
And how many millions of dollars did we spend renovating victoriaville for this company? My only hope is that the present employees can find work somewhere! This is very sad but not unexpected.
1/13/2010 4:15:42 PM
royalelevator says:
Twolvefan: I didn't say 'same quality of work', I said "... do the same job...". If you're going to call me misinformed, you should at least quote me accurately. Also: the problem I was referring to was the concept of a "3rd-party employee" in general, not any one specific company (because they ALL do it). Thank you for your insight and subsequent internet soapboxing.
1/13/2010 5:02:46 PM
Rick says:
1/13/2010 5:07:50 PM
royalelevator says:
PS: It's "pseudo" not "sudo".
1/13/2010 5:10:23 PM
tiredofit says:
twolvefan you seem to think that what these people did was identical to the local Bell people (which by the the bulk of have all been laid off by Bell themselves and outsourced). They provide billing services and order updates only. I suggest YOU learn what your talking about first. These were hard working individuals who were simply screwed over by a greedy company who worries about nothing more than the bottom line. I've know a lot of these people and they are very hard working individuals who unforunately were under paid. And not all employees were paid minimum wage, that was the entry level positions, some people earned inexcess of 40-50k a year.. this is a horrible hit to the tax base of Thunder Bay. If we can't keep call centres, then what will we manage to keep? Forestry, Mining and the likes are dying industries of an era gone by.
1/13/2010 5:10:24 PM
ihatetwolvefan says:
Comment removed by moderator.
1/13/2010 5:14:11 PM
worklessinthunderbay says:
none of you know what you are talking about. these workers get the exact same training as all bell employees, and do exactly the same job, often better than "bell" employees. the site will be missed.
1/13/2010 5:22:38 PM
tbnewswatcher says:
I worked for StarTek when they first opened and was a part of the first wave of students who recieved Bell Canada Training, when we hit the floor things were a tad bit different. Bell wanted us to focus on Quality not Quantity and I directly quote one of the Opperations Managers when I was advised that "StarTek gets paid per call, do it quick and take another" and the agents were pressured into obtaining those perfect Metrics! This site is closing simply due to poor management or I should say miss management which has resulted in the Vendor (Bell) to pull the plug on their contract or maybe it was time to renew and they opted to not! I feel sorry for the front line agents who will loose their job, not sorry for the Management of this site!
1/13/2010 5:29:12 PM
twolvefan says:
sorry workless......but,nothing could be further from the truth when you say "these workers get the exact same training as all bell employees, and do exactly the same job, often better than "bell" employees".

You may believe that yourself, but you are truely misinformed.

Do the job for 20+ yrs and then, and only then, we'll talk.

p.s. - ihatewolvefan....make sure your on time for work tmw!!

1/13/2010 6:20:55 PM
laidoffmillguy says:
Well if you speak spanish and don't mind taking a 80% pay cut you can get your job back at the new StarTek center opening in Costa Rica in March. The biggest kick in the ass is the company reducing hours on their full-time employee's before laying them off making them qualify for less unemployement benifits. I am 99% sure this company from day 1 had NO intention of long term employement in our city. Good luck to all soon to be laid off employees, I do know first hand how difficult the transition can be.
1/13/2010 7:05:05 PM
tbaycat says:
Twolvefan ...... May I respectably request that you get over yourself. This story is about 192 poor souls who are losing their jobs. Who really fricken cares about you and how well you think you are at your job. After comparing their comments to yours, I tend to think that tbnewswatcher, tiredofit and royalelevator have much more insight into this situation than you do. Perhaps your just a little disgruntled at work maybe? Don’t figure their paying you enough for your many years of expertise? Worried that your job may be the next one sent to India?
1/13/2010 7:35:34 PM
moondew75 says:
As an employee for a reputable, unionized company, who does not outsource their customer service, I am truly sorry for all of the Startek employees who are losing their jobs this spring. Please try to remember that those of you who were trained from the start of Startek, were trained by representatives who were flown in from Bell in Toronto, to train you to take their jobs and leave them unemployed. I did not feel that there would be any security in working for a company who could feel ok at the end of the day, using people in this way. I didn't think that the shelf life would only be 4 years, but this was bound to happen. To those who feel that the CSR's at Startek were underpaid for the work that they were doing, which some feel is the same as a Bell employee, please try to remember that the amount of education required for these jobs alone sets the bar higher. And they only do a portion of their job.
1/13/2010 8:00:00 PM
Rick says:
Thunder Bay just got Uglier,from the get go
(back in 2006) there was much debate on the long term viability of this company.

Please read the end of this, if nothing else.

Is it really a suprise, Young America the call centre which was located at the Northwood Plaza mall has been closed for a long time now.

The city bought into this company locating here big time to the tune of 3 million, the people who were un-employed at that time had no other choice of employment other than these call centre's. Ask yourself why was that.?

Because in my opinion, as far back as 1994 (possibly earlier) the cost of electricty was a hot topic of discussion as it related to the pulp and paper industry as was the cost of transporting the raw product to the mills.

This fact is not new by any means, this is what happens when those in government vs. those in the private sector debate, debate and debate, then suddenly they realize, it's now too late.

This is terrible news to those who were employed by Star Tek and this forum is not about them, but the actions of this firm who was welcomed with open arms and access to your tax dollars.

Now is the time to apply the
word "accountability" here, would it not be interesting if the mayor and members of city council would get on-line and respond to the issues listed as news stories on this website.

mmmmmmmmm yes that would be most interesting, so to Lynn Peterson and all of city council and management, lets here directly from you now vs. waiting until a month or 2 before the election, when at that time most sadly to say will have log forgotten the problems which plague Thunder Bay today.

So to Dougall Media, please extend an invitation to our city leaders to jump on in, we would love to hear from you, seeing that we do not see you on the local community channel any more as we once did.
1/13/2010 8:26:29 PM
realist says:
Same thing happens every time the government money runs out. The call centre owners move to another town/province/country and takes in another chunk of change to assist them with setup costs. The whole industry is a joke.

I've heard rumblings the other call centre in the North ward might soon be in the same situation.
1/13/2010 8:27:13 PM
bonrack says:
I have been laid off several times before,I hope only the best for those people.

What upsets me the most is the 3 million ( or so ) dollars that Mayor Lynn Peterson spent on the mall with renovations ....

What upsets me even more is the fact that she is running for re-election ..... I would vote for Anyone else that runs ....

Let someone else enjoy Her new building ...

1/13/2010 8:53:25 PM
thepawn says:
Thanks for the research Rick.

1/13/2010 9:35:30 PM
The Beaver.... says:
may i respectfully submit that this Lady Manager has fallen out of her Tree.She is so full of crab.
1/13/2010 9:47:12 PM
JJTT11 says:
Twolvefan...Clearly you do not know the definition of the word "empathy". Regardless if StarTek was an outsourcing company that Bell dealt with or not, it was/and still is a huge company, that paid a lot of peoples bills. . I sense your a little hostile and on the defense about what that person commented on earlier. You know its the truth!! I really wish you were dealing with the ordeal that these humans were faced with today. It's people like you who should be the ones jobless!!!...I really hope that when you go to work tomorrow you get fired, regardless if you have been there for 20 years plus, its clear that the employees of StarTek were doing a better job then you!!! You too will be seeking the job bank soon!!
1/13/2010 11:38:50 PM
EeyoreAddict says:
I am one of those unfortunate people who is losing their job in March. I think a lot of the public seem to jump to the conclusion that StarTek screwed us and the city and nothing could be further from the truth. We only had one client and one line of business in the center and sadly we lost that client. With no client base, no calls coming in, what option did StarTek have? Keep scheduling us for 40 hours a week just to come and sit at our desks and chit chat to our colleagues? Maybe in a perfect world. No client, no call center, plain and simple. StarTek has tried to get other clients but sadly when these other clients can pay 5 people overseas for the price of one Canadian, we fall by the wayside. Welcome to global economics.

And as for us not having the same training as "real Bell employees", I can assure you that we did. All of our training came directly from Bell, including "real Bell trainers" and I have a hard time believing that Bell would set up training strictly for call centers that is different for "real Bell employees"
1/13/2010 11:42:44 PM
digdug76 says:
Whether the comments are right or wrong, I just shudder at what little our school system seems to have taught people.....especially in the area of spelling and grammar. :(
1/14/2010 12:26:13 AM
laidoffguy says:
twolvefan --- u do realise that the thunder bay startek site was rated # 1 in customer service from the customers during the sureys conducted after the calls learn your stuff before u randomly post unjustifyed comments
1/14/2010 8:00:33 AM
Jon Powers says:
Please find the following figues for review:

Cost to remodel VictoriaVille Mall:

$3.Million. Loan + Interest $2.Million = $5.Million. Taxes (City Budget 2006-Onward.)

{This is the money that was suposed to be used for two new homes for the aged that was approved in 2003-4 $44.Million. at $1.67 when loan paid off 2029.City Council did not build new homes with these "$" but spent them on other projects like Call Centre, WaterFront, City Hall Reno, New T.B.D.S.S.A.B. H.Q... The list goes on.}

Rent from Star Tek $260,000.00 per year.(City Budget 2006-On-ward).

Total number of years to break even point on this investment is 25 years.

Max Employement 500 Pay Roll $10.Million or $20,000.00 per employee (Gross).

The Private sector could have found a location for this company and this would have saved City Tax monies.

Keep on Posting!
1/14/2010 9:13:37 AM
Rick says:
To thepawn and to bonrack

Here is some more information with regards to the City Hall renovations, the original budget vs. the final outcome.

City Hall will be closing for renovation in a series of moves over the next few weeks beginning June 23.City Hall is expected to reopen in March 2009.
Contractor was: Tom Jones Corporation
Original Budget: 3.7 million.?
Finished Cost: said to be $4.5 million with an additional $815,000 used to build the new outdoor civic space.
Officially Reopened: 29-11-03
The original project completion date was February 14th.
Here are a few weblinks below for the readers to check out.

1/14/2010 10:05:22 AM
twolvefan says:
I think we all are empathetic to the fact that these people are soon going to have to seek new employment, I wish them all nothing but luck in doing so.

The debate of Bell employees vs vendor employees is obviously a discussion that most on here are not qualified to participate in.

TWolve fan is signing off!!

1/14/2010 10:33:33 AM
Rick says:
I like Jon Powers :)

and a quick note to thewolf, is this what you would call, as per my previous comments about public elected officials and when one is fiscally responsible, there are three components to this in my opinion, they are avoiding debt, preparing for the future and managing resources.

Please let us hear your comments on this and how it relates to the information posted by Jon Powers.
1/14/2010 11:15:31 AM
tdog8601 says:
TWOLVEFAN .........I Agree with you, you have alot of good points ! Ma Bell has been around for ages im a long time customer of Bell !!! been with BELL for many years i enjoy talking to the local staff they provide such excellent customer service THUMBS UP !!!
1/14/2010 11:16:06 AM
excityemployee says:
StarTek's closure makes it even more amazing that Teleperformance is still operating. It's future is extremely sketchy. We can only hope the StarTek employees can find work before TP finally pulls the plug. Good luck to all.
1/14/2010 11:42:49 AM
observer says:
I'll bet you that your contacts have gone across the seas, just like everything else. Outsourcing to third world countries is the name of the game.

I am sorry for the employees who have to begin again. What I suggest is that you give Lynn Peterson a call, she says that we are in great shape, maybe she will donate part of her salary to help you out!!
1/14/2010 2:29:37 PM
RHL says:
Maybe this would a good time to give us back Victoria Ave....It will happen sooner or later.
1/14/2010 3:56:12 PM
tiredofit says:
I can speak with a great deal of confidence when I say that this is not Starteks fault. They did in fact try to get several vendors to the Thunder Bay site, the problem is the vendors (the people who beg us to purchase their services) all want it done ultra cheap and unforunately when you can hire a university educated call center employee in Manila for $2.00 US an hour, it's hard for the companies not to offshore. Startek was in fact one of the very last companies to actually setup shop overseas (only 2 years ago). Nobody wanted to see Thunder Bay close it's doors, but when you've got clients such as Bell demanding more for less, how are they supposed to do it? Bell pulled all of its contracts from Startek, not only Thunder Bay, but Cornwall as well. So before we blame Startek, let's look at TWolves favorite employer..

What we really need to figure out folks is what industry would do well here, let's stop pointing fingers and blaming different groups. If you don't like what councel has done to date, vote them out... but remember, the next councel may not be any better.. If Teleperformance is in fact the next to leave, we are truly in trouble folks and it's time to shutter the city.
1/14/2010 4:31:58 PM
thepawn says:

There is a new trend in Call Centres and that is the operator works from home. Just last week, I called the help desk at XM-Radio and the operator was at home. You could hear a TV and kids in the background.

I have one question for the mayor. If I can get a job as an "at home operator" will she pay for my house renovation ?
1/14/2010 8:40:12 PM
realist says:
@ thepawn

I highly doubt the client is allowing people to work from home. It's more than likely the call centre has an on-site daycare.

The logistics alone would prevent people from doing in-bound customer service from their homes. How would you assure continuity and compatibility of equipment? Routing of phone calls? Secure private data over an unsecured internet connection? Schedule adherence? Quality control?
1/15/2010 12:30:35 AM
The Wolf says:
Jobs are jobs and any loss of them, especially a high number like this is a bad thing for the city, yes even at the lower pay these people worked for. You that's right folks we are talking about real people's lives here. Please keep that in mind when you bash any aspect of this real life situation.
1/15/2010 1:12:33 AM
tiredofit says:
riv3rc4rd, they have different clients in that centre with totally different infrastructures. It's not as simple as one thinks. What you also neglect to realize that the bulk of those are simply transfer from the lost Bell positions to a different client (several staff in Cornwall were advised on Wednesday as well they were no longer Bell agents), while is sounds good in principle, unfortunately it's all smoke and mirrors. Next time you need to call about your wonderful Bell Sat service or you Bell home phone & cell service think about what they have done here and elsewhere. They employee a number of different call centres, not just Startek.
1/15/2010 8:47:51 AM
baybrewer says:

I wouldn't say its time to shutter the city as you had mentioned, but I do agree with 95% of the rest of your comments. I have to deal with Bell all the time at work and I find their business policies to be harsh. The turn around time to pay a bill ends up being a day for me. They have no flexibility. I tell them to enjoy my money and enjoy the Olympics. I'm not a fan of how they do business and do not use them in my personal life. And now with moving jobs out of Thunder Bay and going off-shore, I've lost that much more respect for "Ma Bell".
1/15/2010 9:41:12 AM
observer says:
The best thing I did was dump Bell! If you can't give employment to those in our country then have them purchase your product.
1/15/2010 4:36:50 PM
thepawn says:
I am not making this stuff up.

Your concerns about privacy and quality are quite valid. However, the call-centres don't give a damn about those things. They don't have to set-up, rent, heat, or pay business tax on a large building, and that works for them. Far cheaper to lend the equipment to their minimum wage employees.

Take a few minutes to research it. You will be surprised at how this trend in telemarketing is growing.
1/17/2010 10:05:22 AM
commonsense says:
Mr. Powers does seem to know his stuff. I like when posters give a link to their facts. I do know that the City is using the Homes for the Aged money for the Waterfront, including lake infill which would be funny if it wasn't so sad. Any links to documents on city website are appreciated. (And I should do the same!)
It seems the City is wrong to be giving incentives UP FRONT for a company to locate here. Hopefully, a lesson has been learned. But the Waterfront is unfortunately another example, with taxpayers servicing land and giving up parkland for private development. How many long term jobs there? How many millions spent that should have gone to our $300Million worth of water/sewer pipes in need of replacement, or $20 million in bridge repairs? It would still be jobs, AND we'd have something to show for the money spent.
1/19/2010 12:38:30 AM
Rick says:
To: commonsense

Mr. Powers does indeed know of which he speaks and it is great that he provides links etc.

Yet with the extent he goes to provide the information, many simply do not accept it as the truth/facts. I wonder what a person must do to convince others these days.

His comments are not ramblings of a person who has nothing better to do with his time.

To give you a little bit of information with regards to the city using money that was already designated for future homes for the aged, I have to go back in time just prior to the election in 2006, there was an open forum of all candidates, mayor and city council that was promoted by our local teachers union. It was at this meeting that Jim Gamble brought this subject up (that being what happened to the money that was designated for the future homes for the aged), he elaborated on what the city had done with it (information he had from public records) and he then called upon then council member Lawrence Timko to expand upon the information he had already explained, Mr. Timko verified all that Mr. Gamble had stated to be correct. Mayor Peterson was clearly shaken and stated that yes, the city did use the funds in the manner that he explained and that Mr. Timko furthur confirmed. I do not re-call all of the precise details, however the point that the city was to hold these funds in reserve for use towards the building of new senior facilities and then spent and allocated to other projects was clearly made.
This was something we the taxpayers were not told and or explained until Mr. Gamble brought it out into the open. Many wondered upon hearing this, what else did we not know.

Maybe contact Lawrence Timko for additional details, he certainly knows of the inner workings of city council and our mayor.
1/19/2010 5:17:02 PM
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