Wells Fargo to close Vancouver call center

72 positions will be cut; at its peak the call center employed 500

By Troy Brynelson, Columbian staff writer

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Calls from Wells Fargo customers looking to restructure their mortgages have sunk, and so too has the demand for people who handle those calls.

Wells Fargo notified 72 employees at its call center at 521 S.E. Chkalov Drive that their positions would be cut by October, spokesman Tom Unger confirmed Thursday.

The workers mostly fielded calls from people struggling with mortgage payments, which Unger said have been on the decline in recent years. Data on call volumes wasn’t provided to The Columbian, but he said calls dropped “significantly over the years.”

“People have either recovered, or they’ve gotten out of their homes,” the Portland-based spokesman said.

Only a handful of jobs were spared, and will be moved from the call center as Wells Fargo leaves the space.

Workers were told Thursday morning and given a 60-day notice. Workers are eligible for pay and benefits through Oct. 9. Workers whose jobs weren’t cut will still be relocated by the time Wells Fargo’s lease ends.

Unger said many people were told they could move into other jobs within Wells Fargo. Whether they would or not depended on their desire to commute, he said.

The San Francisco-based bank employs 275 people in Clark County, but is far more heavily concentrated south of the Columbia River. The company employs over 3,400 combined in Multnomah and Washington counties in Oregon.

Workers who can’t find another job at the company are eligible for severance, the company said in a prepared statement.

Wells Fargo opened the call center in 2003. Its workforce there has fluctuated widely over the years. In 2011, the bank laid off 68 debt collectors at the office, according to Columbian archives.

At its zenith, the call center employed 500 workers. Before today, it employed less than 80, Unger said.