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Move to Devon or lose your jobs, Cumbria call centre staff told

Nine call centre staff in Whitehaven are set to lose their jobs, unless they move to Devon.

The part-time employees work on Traveline, anational telephone service providing information on public transport timetables. They are employed by Stagecoach, which has the Traveline contract for Cumbria.

However, a new firm – Telephone Information Masters – is due to take over on March 25 and bosses plan to close the operation in Lowther Street.

Enquiries for Cumbria will then be handled by its call centre in Exeter.

One of the workers, who asked not to be named, said: “We have been told that we will transfer to Telephone Information Masters under European Tupe regulations.

“Then the new company will make us redundant unless we move to Devon.

“I can’t go down to Exeter. I don’t think any of us can.”

The worker added: “It’s going to affect the service. People in Devon won’t have local knowledge.

“When somebody asks, ‘which side of the road does the bus leave from?’, they’re not going to know.”

One of the workers has been employed by Stagecoach for 22 years.

Telephone Information Masters had been due to speak to staff in Whitehaven yesterday but the meeting was cancelled.

The contract is awarded by the Cumbria Traveline board, made up of bus and heritage-rail operators and a county council representative.

Chairman Ian Wright, of Alston bus company Wright Bros, said: “We have formally tendered the call centre service, as the contract with Stagecoach has come to an end.

“The exercise found that the most cost-effective way of delivering the service would be to award it to a company outside the county undertaking similar work for other Traveline companies.”

The 0871 200 22 33 Traveline number appears on bus stops all over the country.

Telephone Information Masters provides the service for the south of England, East Anglia and the east Midlands, handling up to 30,000 calls a week.

Managing director Tim Newman said the contract for Cumbria had still to be signed.

But he argued that it made commercial sense for a large national call centre to provide the service.

He said: “Fewer and fewer people call Traveline each year.

“The number of enquiries overall is going up but people tend to go online using their mobile phone to get timetable information rather than phoning Traveline.”

Have your say

well Ian with the opinion that you have of Cumbria and its people you are certainly not going to be missed..the people of west cumbria give excellent service to those who are polite and courteous ..maybe it was your hostility and ego that they found objectionable..

Posted by Glennys on 5 March 2013 at 09:39

Ian, maybe the Companies who set up Call Centres should be the ones responsible for training their staff up correctly in Good Customer Service,don't you think?!

Posted by Pete on 3 March 2013 at 10:08

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