Sprint to cut nearly 400 jobs in New Mexico

Sprint announced Friday that it will close its Rio Rancho call center, which opened in 1998, on Feb. 5. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Sprint announced Friday that it will close its Rio Rancho call center, which opened in 1998, on Feb. 5. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

Sprint will close its Rio Rancho customer care center next month, a move that will result in the loss of nearly 400 jobs.

Sprint announced Friday that it would close the center on Feb. 5, saying the company is “significantly taking costs out of the business” as part of a “multiyear turnaround strategy,” eliminating up to $2.5 billion in costs. It says the Rio Rancho closure “will impact approximately 394 employees.”

The statement says employees at the customer service center were notified of the closure Friday. The center’s parking lot was virtually empty Friday afternoon.

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Sprint also said Friday that it will close its call center in Blountville, Tenn., putting 444 people out of work there. The last day for the Tennessee call center, which opened in 2011, will also be Feb. 5.

The Rio Rancho customer service center opened in Enchanted Hills almost 20 years ago, in 1998.

Its arrival was part of a call center boom in the City of Vision. The late 1990s also brought Victoria’s Secret, Gateway 2000 and NationsBank to a community that also had a J.C. Penney center. Sprint’s call center had grown to about 1,400 employees by 2002.

“Job reductions are never an easy thing to do, and we don’t make these decisions lightly,” Roni Singleton of the company’s media relations office said in a statement. “Today is a difficult day for Sprint, and particularly for those employees affected by the closure. We want to ensure that every employee impacted is treated with dignity and respect during the transition.”

Singleton said the company will assist employees with separation benefits and outplacement services.

Jami Grindatto, CEO of the Sandoval Economic Alliance, said in an emailed statement that he was sorry Sprint will no longer continue in Rio Rancho.

“Sprint has been a great employer in our community for many years,” Grindatto said.

According to Bloomberg, Sprint is the fourth-largest wireless carrier, behind Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. There is a major gap between No. 1 and No. 4. Verizon reported this week that it has more than 112 million retail connections nationwide. Sprint has 58.6 million, according to its website.

Journal staff writers Jessica Dyer and Steve Sinovic contributed to this report.

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