Call centre could move to India

FEARS that Thames Water might move its Swindon call centre to India have this week been reignited.

The country’s largest water utility company will today be given Ofwat’s price review, which is likely to push for a cut in household water bills – meaning the company’s profits would fall.

The company announced earlier this year that it was considering the option of outsourcing its Kembrey Park call centre, which employs 500 people, to India in a bid to cut costs.

One employee, who asked not to be named, said:

“Obviously this pricing review means the company would want to save as much money as possible for investment and that could be closing the Swindon branch completely.

We have all been worried here since talks began about this and the consultation period is now underway.

We are all petrified we could lose our jobs and many of us have families to support. In this industry there are very few jobs and so I think it would be impossible to find more work.

I personally think no-one in the UK wants another call centre moved abroad – they want advice from someone who can understand and help them. We are all scared.”

Ofwat announced a draft decision over the summer to cut household water bills and, taking out the impact of inflation, the regulator wants the typical bill in England and Wales cut by £14 to £330.

Every five years, Ofwat sets limits on prices that water companies in England and Wales can charge. Its final determination is due out later today.

A Thames Water spokeswoman said the three-month market testing would end early next year.

She said:

In September we briefed our employees that we are testing the market across a number of areas in the business, in order to be as open as possible. At this stage, we are simply exploring all options. We understand that any period of uncertainty can be difficult.

Notwithstanding this, our employees have responded well to the current challenges and the Customer Centre performance continues to improve despite the uncertainty. No decisions have been taken regarding outsourcing the customer centre.

We have a duty to our customers, especially during the current economic uncertainty and the tough settlement indicated in Ofwat’s draft determination, to consider all opportunities available to us, to run the business as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Thames Water is formally investigating and market testing external providers for functions including maintenance, legal, property, research and development, customer services and water metering functions.

We don’t want to cause unnecessary alarm. However, we have a duty to be as open as possible with our employees.”

Scott McPherson

Swindon Evening Advertiser

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