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Thursday, January 17, 2008

JC Penney Call Center Closing/275 Lose Jobs

Thursday, January 17, UPDATED: 5:59 p.m.
By Josh Brogadir

The JC Penney Call Center on Montage Mountain in Lackawanna County is closing at the end of March. It means a loss of 275 jobs.

Click for larger image

Workers are taking the announcement very hard. Some have been working at the center for close to 20 years, since the call center first opened.

"A lot of people were upset, crying, and you know people crying," said worker Ann Roche of Old Forge.

A spokesman for the retailer said, "(It's the) result of a steady decline in call volume in the catalog business as more people migrate to the internet."

That explanation doesn't surprise Dave Shreve of Wilkes-Barre who has driven there to work since 1999.

"Well business is down. We didn't have a good peak season. Christmas, usually the cars were parked all the way out, pretty much by Prudential, and this year I noticed that there wasn't a lot of cars, so I saw it coming," Shreve said.

JC Penney officials couldn't have seen it coming back in 1989, long before the internet was in most homes. That's when the call center moved from Taylor to Moosic, between Scranton & Wilkes Barre.

Company officials were thrilled with the location.

"We could have gone anywhere. We had tremendous cooperation from your
local people working here with us, and of course the people, you can put a
building up any place in the country. We're looking or people with a good
work ethic," Tom McGurren of JC Penney said when the call center opened.

Ann Roche has been answering phones at the call center from the start.
She was too upset to even finish her day there. Now she will have to figure out what's next.

"It's kind of a shock. It's devastating, with the economy and everything the way it is now, to think, and at my age now too to have to go and look for a new job, you know. Who's going to hire somebody my age," Roche wondered.

JC Penney has six other call centers around the country. Officials said the reason this one is closing, in part, is timing. The lease on the building was up.

Another call center closed in Nashville last year. From WNEP

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