Amherst call centre to close Nov. 5

Darrell Cole
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Thing 5 shutting centre in former Co-op building

Thing5 is closing its Amherst call centre on Nov. 5 throwing approximately 20 people out of work.

AMHERST – Nearly a year after opening in the former Co-op location downtown, Thing 5 is closing its Amherst call centre.

Approximately 20 employees will be impacted by the closure. The call centre will close Nov. 5.

"Everyone is just devastated. There was no indication this was going to happen," an employee, who asked not to be identified, said Tuesday. "The timing is terrible. We're all losing our jobs just before Christmas and it takes four to six weeks to get unemployment."

The employee said a number of people at Thing5 left or turned down other jobs because they were assured everything was OK.

She said officials from the company's Moncton office showed up just after 4 p.m. on Monday and gathered the employees together to break the news.

"They said it had nothing to do with performance, it's just the company is going in a different direction," she said. "I'm going to miss it here because it wasn't a bad place to work."

Virtual Agent Services, which merged with Thing5, announced it the opening of the call centre last December. It planned to hire 170 people over five years and was to receive a $1.2-million payroll rebate from Nova Scotia Business Inc.

The call centre handled calls for La Quinta hotels out of the United States.

Amherst Mayor Robert Small said he was notified this morning of the closure. He's very disappointed and surprised with the announcement.

"When they opened they had indicated they were very happy to be in Amherst and were looking forward to a long relationship with the community," Small said. "It's my understanding that Thing5 changed its business model after merging with VAS and a lot of the senior management were changed."

Small said he will be contacting Cumberland North MLA Brian Skabar and NSBI to see if there's anything that can be done to replace the jobs.

"Every job we lose in the downtown is bad news. We need to keep every job we have in the downtown," Small said. "We've lost the maintenance enforcement jobs and we're going to lose the jobs at the jail. We need government to help us replace some of the jobs we're losing."

The closures comes nearly two years after TeleTech Holdings closed its Amherst call centre putting more than 200 off the job.

Small said the town's other call centre, Advantage Communications, has indicated it is willing to hire those working at Thing 5.

Officials from Thing5 could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Organizations: Virtual Agent Services, Nova Scotia Business, TeleTech Holdings Advantage Communications

Geographic location: Amherst, Moncton, La Quinta United States

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Recent comments

  • jr
    October 25, 2012 - 08:17

    I have worked for much bigger Call Centers than this and they all work the same way it appears. They seem to get the grants and make promises that they are going to be around for a long time and then as soon as that money runs out, they seem to have a contract that suddenly gets terminated and they close shop never to pay the money back again and we the taxpayers are on the hook again. Yes it is unpleasant for people to be out of work, but why should the taxpayers be ffoting the bill for thier wages to begin with. I was never so happy as I was the day I walked out from the last place I worked for. They are never really as good as they make you believe. If these types of outfits are that bad off that they need someone to basically pay for them to get started then should they really start out? On another note, I agree that the company should have hired different people than the management that worked for the failed Teletech as they proved thier worth there. Again, another company that closed when the grant ran out. Hmmmm. is there a pattern here somewhere?

  • bill
    October 24, 2012 - 18:22

    amherst is the a-- hole of the martimes it is now and always was rich get rich poor get poor rich get all the good jobs poor get nothing it been that way since i went into work force 40 years ago

  • AL
    October 24, 2012 - 13:30

    there is one way out from this sad economic situation in cumberland county,,let all the elected mayors,,officials,,mls,s demand a meeting with the premire and any other federal officials and demand firm help and action,,not promises,,we are losing our young generation in cumberland county,,nothing left for them to look for,,,,,,gentleman,,if we dont ask and demand,,nothing will be accomplished,,calling centers are not the solution,,,,

  • Back Up
    October 24, 2012 - 07:48

    To set the record clear, the call center was a a great place to work, I am a former employee who was there since the doors open! I understand the government money being used and blah blah blah but this is people's lives that this is turning upside down! They all have families, single or double incomed families, regardless, this was their livelihoods! I think it's an awful sin for these people to not have a job in 2 weeks, its an outrage really

  • I told them
    October 23, 2012 - 19:19

    I worked for that call center for a while and I told the big wigs that in order to keep the call center going they need to not hire old managment from the failing teletech and instate them into a new call center that hopes to survive, Thing 5 has had a turn over of employees sents it opened and you can tell after 5 or more training classes they are closing with 20 people and that is including the managment. There was more then that in the first traning class, not a surprise

  • FormerEmployee
    October 23, 2012 - 18:27

    This is not a great place to work which is why they only have about 20 employees left. Trust me, not all the employees are "devastated". Amherst needs to get quality employers instead of all these crappy call centers that suck up government money and leave Amherst and area citizens hanging when this money is gone. I say good riddance!

  • Shannon
    October 23, 2012 - 17:10

    The Company should be required to pay out that $1.2 Million to Amherst. It is so frustrating that these companies continually get Payouts and then leave. This needs to change.

  • bob
    October 23, 2012 - 16:21

    How much longer are we going to continue giving taxpayer money to these carpet baggers? Same old story..........stay in business until the government money is gone and then..whoooosh....out the door. Good riddance to them..

  • Skippy
    October 23, 2012 - 16:13

    "The call centre handled calls for La Quinta hotels out of the United States.">>>>>>>>>>>>>So a Spanish-named hotel from the US (where the second language is Spanish) contracts a contact centre in Canada (where the second language is French) in an English speaking small town>>>>what could possibly go wrong?!

  • no surprise
    October 23, 2012 - 15:33

    Call centres have never worked well. As for New Brunswick being able to balance a budget. Better look again they are as bad of as Nova Scotia. Worse in some regards

  • sue
    October 23, 2012 - 12:44

    Want a better business model? Fund businesses owned by hometown people who already have an emotional investment in the community. Those are the people who will work hard to build a successful and long-standing business. The call centres are about as fly-by-night as it gets, and we should've learned a lesson after the first 50 or so closed shop as soon as their government funding ran out.

    • Sue
      October 24, 2012 - 04:42

      Sue, If a local business cannot operate without more breakes than they already get. They are no better than these blood suckers.

  • sueb
    October 23, 2012 - 12:43

    The only surprise about this closure is that it took them so long. Call centres are BS - they rarely have any staying power and always seem to close at Christmas time, just before the end of their fiscal year. I highly doubt this was a change in business model so much as an orchestrated plan to milk some tax dollars out of a desperate region with a vulnerable economy. These centres shouldn't get another dime of funding - that money would be so much better spent on developing locally run businesses.

  • told ya so......
    October 23, 2012 - 11:51

    another call center bites the thats a surprise?! company can start up in cumberland and better off if they just sold Nova Scotia to New Brunswick or Quebec...they have money and seem to know how to balance a budget properly....oh and they support the lil people it seems