News : Springfield Call Center Closes Abruptly, Citing Pizza Ordering Habits
Springfield, MO, USA, Aug 12, 2015 -- A Springfield call center that processed orders for Pizza Hut locations around the country closed without advance notice Wednesday, leaving more than 100 employees without jobs.
NPC International, the Pizza Hut franchisee that operates the East Sunshine Street call center, attributed the move to a change in pizza ordering habits.
"This closure is due to a decline in call center orders caused by an increase in internet orders and the fact that more customers are calling stores directly and they are answering more and more of their own calls," a note posted on the door read.
Pittsburg, Kansas-based NPC International says on its website it is the largest Pizza Hut franchisee in the world, with over 1,250 locations in 28 states, or 20 percent of the domestic Pizza Hut system.
Pizza Hut locations take orders by phones, but the calls would go to the Springfield call center or others if a restaurant’s line was busy.
20-year-old employee Passion Casey said she stopped by the call center Tuesday for her schedule, and was told it would be ready Wednesday. When she returned Wednesday morning, she saw the note on the door.
"I feel like they should have gave us a heads-up," Casey said. "I have kids to provide for. I have bills to pay."
Casey said she hadn’t received a phone call about the closure, but call center manager Mark Hubbell said all employees had been called, although not all of them had picked up. Hubbell said he only learned the closure of the center was a done deal Tuesday night.
"It’s just one of those situations where it happened suddenly, but we’re trying out best to find employees other jobs," he said.
Hubbell handed a reporter a notice that an information session is planned for Monday at the Missouri Career Center, which is located in the same strip mall as the call center.
The note on the door also states that area Pizza Huts are "always in need of good employees."
The call center opened in Springfield in 1986, and Hubbell said he began working there the next year. Bridget Ellis, an employee who was at the center Wednesday evening, praised Hubbell, while acknowledging she didn’t know what was next for her.
"When it would snow, he would pick you up if you didn’t have a ride," Ellis said of Hubbell. "He was a great boss."
"We have a lot of disabled people that work here," a six-year employee who would only give her name as Bethany said. "We have a lot of people without more than a high school education. It’s a real mix."
The jobs generally paid minimum wage, Ellis said, except for management.
"It came as a surprise to all of us," she said.
A NPC International human resources official did not immediately return a call Wednesday evening seeking comment on the closure and the lack of notice for employees.
Hubbell said NPC is still operating call centers in Pittsburg and Barlett, Tennessee. Calls that would have been taken in Springfield will now be answered in Pittsburg.
Casey said the father of her 2-year-old son recently started a new job, and that’s now her only source of income. She also has a three-month-old daughter.
"We were already struggling and now this."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About NPC International:
NPC International is an institutional consolidator and developer of restaurant brands.
About Pizza Hut:
Pizza Hut Pakistan The first Pizza Hut restaurant in Pakistan was opened in December 1993 and took the culinary scene by surprise. From that time onwards, the brand has contributed heavily towards the development of the society as a whole. It is responsible for creating job opportunities for the youth of the country both directly as well as indirectly. Furthermore, Pizza Hut, during the course of its existence has gradually aided in the development of various local suppliers who as a requirement have to supply foodstuff equivalent in quality to the international food standards. In this regard our restaurant chain has proved to be a major contributor towards the progress of the Pakistani food industry as a whole by bringing it to a point where they can now look forward to supplying their items to other chains as well as the international market.
Published: Thursday, August 13, 2015