Sprint job cuts reach 2,500, mostly in customer care centers

Efforts to transform Sprint Corp. have claimed at least 2,500 jobs and struck six customer care centers, company officials confirmed Monday.

About 2,000 of the layoffs are coming in customer care, but five vice presidents also were let go. In total, the Overland Park headquarters campus is shedding 255 customer care jobs and 574 other posts — in network, technology, marketing, information technology and other areas that tend to be higher paying jobs.

This marks Sprint’s third wave of cutbacks in the last two years. The company shed 1,700 jobs in the fall of 2014 and announced plans to cut 2,000 more. The 2,500 come on top of those totals, bringing the disclosed job cuts in that time to more than 6,000.

More news arrives Tuesday. Sprint is set to release its quarterly financial report for the last three months of 2015. It also will show how well the company’s half-off promotion has attracted new customers.

Management then plans sessions with analysts and the media. Analystes will be looking for updates on how Sprint is meeting its cash needs, expanding its wireless network, changing the way its does business and slashing $2.5 billion in spending — all at the same time.

“We expect solid customer results,” analyst Jennifer Fritzsche told clients of Wells Fargo Securities in a note Monday.

She said Sprint’s most valuable customer group, called post-paid subscribers, likely grew by 625,000, with a consensus of estimates being closer to 500,000. Analyst Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson Research puts Sprint’s post-paid subscriber gains at 618,000.

Sprint finished September with 58.578 million wireless subscribers, fourth among the national carriers.

Tuesday’s release comes a week earlier than Sprint originally planned. Chief executive Marcelo Claure moved up the date after an unconfirmed report about a “radical network strategy” triggered speculation and a sharp decline in Sprint’s share price.

“I’m a big believer that we need to address something like this head-on,” Claure wrote last week in a newsletter to employees. He said he moved up the earnings release date to allow management “to set the record straight!”

Sprint confirmed the approximately 2,000 customer care cuts in an email to employees last week from Marci Carris, senior vice president of customer care.

Carris said all of the layoff notices had gone out and that all of those employees would qualify for the current severance benefits, which can amount to two weeks of pay for each year employed plus $1,000. Sprint is reducing severance benefits for employees notified after Jan. 30. The new benefits will provide one week of pay for each year worked.

Michelle Boyd, a Sprint spokeswoman, said the layoff notices would be “largely completed” by Jan. 30.

Sprint separately notified Kansas officials last Friday that it was eliminating jobs of 829 Sprint employees at the headquarters in Overland Park. Boyd said these included 255 at the Overland Park headquarters campus call center. She said 360 employees at the center would remain on the job after the cutbacks.

Carris’ email told employees that Sprint is closing or cutting back call centers in New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Colorado.

The Denver Post reported the center in Arapahoe County, Colo., would idle 178 Sprint employees, though the center will continue to operate with remaining employees. The Bristol Herald Courier in Tennessee said 444 Sprint employees would be idled with the closing of the center there. Albuquerque Business First reported 394 Sprint employees would lose jobs with the closing of the New Mexico center.

With fewer call centers operating, Sprint is urging customers to handle routine inquiries — such as checking bill balances and making payments, checking on device upgrade status, and checking on phone lease status — online or through the Sprint Zone app.

Sprint also will rely on customer care sites run by vendors in addition to its own centers.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, on Twitter @mdkcstar

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