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Ticketmaster cuts 70 part-time call-centre jobs

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ABOUT 70 local Ticketmaster employees are losing their jobs because of the growing popularity of online ticket purchasing.

The employees, all part-timers who sell tickets over the phone, were informed Wednesday morning their jobs are being eliminated at the end of September.

Ticketmaster, which sells tickets to concerts and other events, is blaming the cuts on a growing number of ticket buyers purchasing their tickets online via computers or mobile devices, rather than over the phone.

"While this decrease has reduced the need for a phone-based sales force, we will maintain a customer and client-support team in Winnipeg, Montreal and throughout our network," the company said in a written statement.

It said all of its retail outlets also will remain open.

The statement did not say how many employees will be left in Winnipeg. However, one of the workers who will be losing his job said there are currently about 100 people working at the local call centre.

The company statement also did not say if phone-sales positions are being eliminated at any of Ticketmaster's other eight offices in Canada.

It said the Winnipeg workers were given 10 weeks' notice that their jobs were being eliminated. It said they can apply for other positions company-wide, and those who can't find jobs elsewhere within Ticketmaster's operations will receive outplacement support services.

The worker, who didn't want his name published, said he's been with the call centre for about four years, and he wasn't shocked by Wednesday's announcement.

"I knew it was coming eventually," he said. "Last year, the call centre's operating hours were reduced and we were no longer open on Sundays. There are times when there are zero calls and all the employees would be doing nothing. Customers are doing everything online now."

He said he plans to begin hunting for another job right away.

"I'm going to try to get out of customer service if I can," he added.

The chief executive officer of the Manitoba Customer Contact Association (MCCA) said she hadn't heard about the Ticketmaster cutbacks, but it doesn't come as a shock to her, either.

Given that people are always on the Internet today, I suppose it makes sense," Cheryl Barsalou said. "I think more and more people are choosing that (online purchasing) as an option today."

Although a growing number of companies are also giving their customers the option of accessing other products or services online these days, rather than over the phone, Barsalou said she doesn't expect it to lead to widespread layoffs within the local customer-contact-centre sector.

"I don't think it's going to have that big of an impact on other businesses (besides ticket-selling operations). You still have back-office work that has to be done to support those online-service options."

The MCCA estimates there are still over 100 customer-contact centres still operating in the city, and about 9,500 people employed in the sector. That's down from a 2009 peak of about 140 centres and 12,000 employees, Barsalou said.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2014 B3

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