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Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Affinitas layoffs, closure in works

April 4, 2012

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One of Lawrence’s larger call center operations is going through a major downsizing and layoffs.

Omaha-based Affinitas Corp. is taking steps to close its Lawrence call center in the former Riverfront Mall in downtown Lawrence.

Doug Brown, a broker with McGrew Commercial, confirmed negotiations are under way for Affinitas to leave the center before its lease expires in July. Brown said talks are ongoing to bring in a new tenant to occupy the space that once served as the customer care center for the entire Sprint PCS brand.

“The bad news is it looks like we’re losing Affinitas, but the good news is the new tenant will have more jobs and likely higher-paying jobs,” Brown said.

Several people claiming to be Affinitas employees posted messages on social networking sites earlier this week that the company had laid off most of its Lawrence employees. A spokesman at Affinitas did not return a call for comment. An employee at the Lawrence center said she could not comment, but the front desk at the Lawrence office had a flier attached to it providing information to employees who had recently been laid off.

Affinitas provided customer service and call center services to other companies, including several of the larger cable companies in the country. During its heyday, Brown said the company employed 300 people. As recently as the summer of 2011, the company still had 200 employees at the center.

The Journal-World reported in January that the Lawrence center, which is on the lower level of the former Riverfront Mall, reduced its workforce and cut the hours of remaining employees.

Brown declined to provide additional information on the possible new tenant for the space, other than to say it would include a call center function.

“We’re waiting day to day to hear information about it,” Brown said.

The space that Affinitas is vacating is owned by members of the Simons family, who also are owners of the Journal-World.

Comments

tatertots 2 years, 6 months ago

Here's what happened: Affinitas started laying off agents in December. There were probably 50 people who lost their jobs at that point. On December 23rd, Affinitas closed its office in Oklahoma with no notice to the employees. After January 1st, the head of the center and company vice-president was let go, all agents' hours were cut, other major contracts were lost, and all former support staff (HR, training, supervisors) were put on the phone at least part time. Everyone started to assume Affinitas was closing at the end of January. The managers didn't know or couldn't tell what was happening. The upper management in other locations wouldn't say what was going on. They may not have known for sure, since negotiations for contracts can be pretty last minute. The IT department was supposedly working on a work-from-home package because the company was going to close the building before the lease was up in the summer. Finally the manager told all the employees on March 27th that we were all being laid off on April 1st. By this point, the facility was down to a very low number of workers. Many of the agents who had not been fired yet had been with the company for many years. They told employees that the only people who would still have jobs would be the former supervisors who would only be in the office for about another week before working from home. The layoffs ended up being about 40 people. The manager made a big deal about how lucky agents were to find out at all. Upper management wanted to not tell the agents about the layoffs. Unbeknownst to the people laid off, the company actually did keep about 20 agents. They clearly told the agents they kept not to tell anyone. So they still lied to all the people they laid off and made they people they kept lie to all the people they had been working with for years so they could keep their job.

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ArmChairWarrior 2 years, 6 months ago

That's pretty much the entire story. I'm not the least bit surprised that Affinitas is closing and I say good riddance. Now we can get an actual business in that space and it'll do the Lawrence job community some good.

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grthfn 2 years, 6 months ago

ok here is the story...back on december 30th while in outbound we seen all of the sups and hr and well all the higher ups go into the "fish bowl" to chat and what not..something that i have never seen ...and when they came out i went up to our h r lady and another sup and asked if we still had our jobs and to tell me straight up...but they said yes we do and that they were not lying..which most of us new better and by 3pm that afternoon all of outbound reps were called into the fish bowl and were told we were laid off...we were all very pissed...specially that it was the day before new yrs and also i asked if we were gonna get our quarterly bonus...and they said NO...we all had to be employeed at the time when pick up our checks...so not only we were screwed out of a job they screwed us out of our money....once i found out they closed the other affinitas location i knew they were gonna screw us over...they had let all of comcast go the month before and then us...then i found out that all the other reps who were left got thier quarterly bonus that just made my blood boil...i've tried talkin to big wigs bout getting that an no response...i'm not just doin this for me...i'm doing this for all the employees they screwed over ...i loved my job but didnt love the supervisors...all the good sups left for a better job and i didnt blame them they all got fed up with the bull crap there...i had gone to the ceo nemurious times of the bullcrap there and did they do anything about it at the time..nope...so well they screwed me over so i'm gonna stick it to them...

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 6 months ago

I hope your next job does not involve writing a coherent letter.

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Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

There's no need to be mean to someone that lost their job.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 6 months ago

Look for more reductins of service from the JW. Simonds' will have us driving up to give them our own newsprint that they can scribe their lame reporting upon.

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Liberty275 2 years, 6 months ago

I think he said you will soon have to take your own paper to the LJW printing plant to get your daily hard copy.

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MarcoPogo 2 years, 6 months ago

The first three words of this post completely made sense.

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Brian Hall 2 years, 6 months ago

As someone who worked at Affinitas for over a year, I am shocked it remained open this long. Affinitas and their prior companies of ITI and QSM have been screwing over their employees for years so why would anyone think this would be any different? Maybe now that Affinitas is gone, some money can be poured into that side of the Riverfront Plaza for renovations and lure businesses in there. The entire second floor is just a hollow shell of empty store fronts.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

I worked there for 6 years.. and i loved my job. i loved the program that i was on. i really enjoyed working with the clients that i worked with. the company doesn't care about anything but money. Not only have they lied to the agents, but they have lied to the clients.Some of the staff has been there for 4-12 years,where the loyality? A note to you out there making stupid little remarks and all...this was a job, times are tough and most of us has families to support .We want to work and not sit at home and be on welfare or unemloyment.We liked to get up and go to work everyday. The company is also trying to do anything in there power to fight our unemployment. Since Jan. they fired more than half the people that we had, for very minor reasons. They would tell us to watch everything we did, we were afraid to call in sick. So for all of you that want to say something stupid to us, we really dont care. Where are we going? To file unemployment and to get welfare...so those who want to make fun... I will enjoy getting some of your money. I hope you enjoy taking care of me for awhile?

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 6 months ago

julieloveselvis - Your writing style is eerily similar to that of grthfn above. Therefore, I'll repeat my comment, I hope your next job does not involve writing coherent letters.
And as to your final thought, the one asking us to enjoy taking care of you, I suspect we were headed in that direction all along.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 6 months ago

Yes, j, but be ever so grateful that you were given the opportunity to show just how superior and judgmental you can be.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 6 months ago

It was julie who said she was going on welfare and unemployment. It was she who mocked us all saying she would be taking our money. If I am going to take care of her, as she said, surely I judge her.

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newmoonluna 2 years, 6 months ago

Your writing style is just fine Julie. You should be proud of the work you put into with Affinitas. Although I left that company years ago, I made many many close friendships that I wouldn't have. Affinitas is a business, and we've seen this scenario numerous times in the past. My time with your program was somewhat stressing the last months there, but I will NEVER forget my Leapfrog girls...never. I wish you luck and know you will succeed with the skills you attained at Affinitas. -Randy

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ArmChairWarrior 2 years, 6 months ago

I can't take anyone with the words "New" "Moon" and "Luna" in their name seriously. Go back to the depths of the internet you troll.

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George Lippencott 2 years, 6 months ago

OK, unless I missed it there is no explanation as to why? Affinitas works on contracts from other companies and the government. I suspect they lost the contracts (or are moving the services off shore). If the former this was unfortunate. If the latter it is just part of a very undesirable trend (internationalization) supported by both political parties. In both cases sympathies for those that lost their jobs and their families. (As well as for the taxpayers who now must provide services to those unemployed).

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outtatowntownie 2 years, 6 months ago

Oh yes, they have employees in Argentina now, making about $2 an hour... And from what I hear, Affinitas is getting what they pay for.

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Eddie_Haskell 2 years, 6 months ago

This sounds like a very poorly run company. I feel sorry for the people that worked there.

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FarneyMac 2 years, 6 months ago

I was in management there years ago, not long after they moved downtown from 23rd Street. I only took the job because I'd been laid off at a much larger company and needed something to pay the bills while I looked for a better job.

It was just a bizarre place; that's the only way I can describe it. The frantic preparation for getting new contracts, shuffling people around from contract to contract, trying to keep up the appearances of a much larger and more professional company...it was just strange and unprecedented for me.

I felt sorry for the hourly employees on the phones - so many good people were just trying to do their best, and they were treated like crap. The management was just utterly condescending and dismissive of most of the employees; they were treated like children. It was just horrifying.

I hadn't thought of that place in years until reading this now. I would say good riddance, but my heart goes out to those employees who were truly just doing their best, trying to keep up with a company that wanted nothing more than their warm body on the phone (qualified or not) in order to keep the lights on and the contracts renewed.

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pizzapete 2 years, 6 months ago

"It was just a bizarre place; that's the only way I can describe it. The frantic preparation for getting new contracts, shuffling people around from contract to contract, trying to keep up the appearances of a much larger and more professional company...it was just strange and unprecedented for me.

I felt sorry for the hourly employees on the phones - so many good people were just trying to do their best, and they were treated like crap. The management was just utterly condescending and dismissive of most of the employees; they were treated like children. It was just horrifying."

That sounds a lot like another large Lawrence company, Vangent.

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Armstrong 2 years, 6 months ago

Compliments of the Hope and Change crowd

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tomatogrower 2 years, 6 months ago

So this is Obama's fault how? I thought the conservatives believed people should make money anyway they can. Upper management has made a lot of money, then gotten rid of their poorly paid workers while they take the money and run. I figured you would admire their management and business style. Don't you admire money people? Aren't we suppose to admire rich people who rip off their workers?

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outtatowntownie 2 years, 6 months ago

As a former employee, I guarantee that this company was on its way out before Obama got elected.

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irvan moore 2 years, 6 months ago

it's not to late, buy the riverfront mall iand turn it into the new library, it has parking now, it's a no brainer, location, location, location. AND we don't have to build a parking garage, just tear down the old library and pave it! big win for taxpayers, big win for community

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Steve Jacob 2 years, 6 months ago

Those call center contracts seem to just come an go. I bet they are very profitable, so the bidding process for them must be cut throat.

That is just more empty space downtown.

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Corey Keizer 2 years, 6 months ago

I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but this is capitalism. That's how business is done.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

LOVE YA TOO SWAGGS..WE SURE MISS YA TOO

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Ace Cleaning 2 years, 6 months ago

Most of the employees will sit around for 99 weeks on unemployment, and then find a dead end job. It’s pathetic that some of the largest employers in Lawrence are call centers that could close any day. I hope they bring in companies to the old farmland site that pay a good wage. If they keep overbuilding the rental housing and do not provide good blue collar jobs; there will be a huge under employed / unemployed underclass in Lawrence.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

THERE IS A LOT OF STUFF THAT PEOPLE DO NOT KNOW ABOUT THIS PLACE. IF YOU HAVE NOT WORKED THERE, THEN YOU HAVE NO IDEA. SINCE JAN. WE HAVE HAD NO IDEA FROM WEEK TO WEEK IF WE WERE GOING TO HAVE A JOB. THE STRESS FROM THE DAY TO DAY WORRY,HAS BEEN H**L. SINCE JAN. THE COMPANY HAS STOPPED PROVIDING US WITH PARKING PASSES ALSO. WE HAVE HAD TO PAY $1 A DAY...JUST TO COME TO WORK.. IF WE DONT PAY TO PARK, WE GET PARKING TICKETS THAT ARE $3, EVERY 2 HOURS.THINK ABOUT IT, WE HAVE TO PAY TO GO TO WORK..SO, YOU TELL ME WHAT KIND OF COMPANY DOES THAT ? TO DO?

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pizzapete 2 years, 6 months ago

No, you had to pay to park, not work. Many people have to pay for parking when they go to work while other companies provide the parking as a perk.

Anyway, I hope you and the rest of the laid off employees can find another job soon.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

You may have to pay to park at KU..But guess what? You are making more money in a week then most of us make in a month..I know cooks and,cleaning crew ..that make more on KU campus than we did. I am not even going to start talking about teachers or SPORT RELATED STAFF.

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just_my_opinion 2 years, 6 months ago

We all knew it was coming. That place was nasty and disfunctional! When I worked there, I could not take the sanitation! They did not have a cleaning crew, the HR lady was responsible for cleaning the bathrooms! Literally, the trash cans would pile 2 feet above the top, overflowing with a couple days worth of old food in them. So I am sure it does not come as a surprise that you could open your desk and have a roach crawl out! YUCK! I was afraid of bring home critters!

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Christine Anderson 2 years, 6 months ago

I feel sorry for all those who have lost their jobs. There really is no reason to make nasty comments to them.

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jhawkinsf 2 years, 6 months ago

O.K. I want to apologize for my above comments that were taken as nasty. People who lose their jobs deserve our sympathy. That said, these are some direct quotes that I responded to.

"so well they screwed me over so I'm gonna stick it to them ..." "So where are we going? To file for unemployment and to get welfare... so those who want to make fun...I will enjoy getting some of your money. I hope you enjoy taking care of me for awhile?"

I wish you well in your job search, after you've stuck it to us all collecting whatever benefits you're entitled to. However, one word of advise, from an employer. If you go into your next job with the attitude you've projected here, your next job experience will mirror your last.

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Judgement_Angel 2 years, 6 months ago

@superswagg56, How are you doing Mr Swagg? It has been a little while since we have talked.

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orlysud 2 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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grthfn 2 years, 6 months ago

i have to problem to say i filed unemployment and i'm getting it since we got laid off..and so are lot of other people and to the idiot who has to comment about how we talk on here needs to find something else with his/her time...all we said on here was that we ALL got screwed over by affinitas...there is noone on here crying about this or that..we were all fed up with how we got screwed over..

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grthfn 2 years, 6 months ago

oh and there is nothing wrong with someone who filed unemployment or anything else...this is the 1st time in 33 yrs i've ever filed for unemployment..and yes i said that i'm gonna stick it to them becuz of the fact is not only did they screw us out of a job they screwed us all out of money as well...and the money i'm talkin bout is the quarterly bonus we get every 3 months..if u dont like what we have to say then i suggest u stay off this page and find something better to do with ur time!!

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artfull1 2 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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orlysud77 2 years, 6 months ago

Love your comment about Big Richard and Psycho Nick...

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kungpaocat 2 years, 6 months ago

I'm sure anyone you are wishing ill will toward is having a fantastic day. Taking joy in other people's misfortune does not make you a very nice person. I hope Karma treats you gently.

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orlysud77 2 years, 6 months ago

They treated some people like dirt.

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orlysud77 2 years, 6 months ago

They treated some people like dirt.

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orlysud77 2 years, 6 months ago

They treated some people like dirt.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

A few months ago we were told that we were all going to have to start woking from our homes. Guess what? Not everyone could. So for tha last few monhs everyone has een living on edge. Week to week, we were told different things. Finaly we were told that the time hascome and all programs were going to be from home. SO everyones last day was going to be 4/1...So they layed off 40 people, but kept a few, becausethey knew that they did not hat the stuff set up to work fro home yet. So come MOnday, about 10-15 are still working..in the office and when the client ask where all the agents were, they told the clients tat 40 agents up and walked out.. HOW WRONG IS THAT. My program, was small, 4 of us..we had to stay for this last week, yep we got to train the people who are going to take our jobs, because they can work from home but we cant... oh and guess what...they will be in the offive next week too. NOONE is working from yet. Alsot hey got 2 other outbound program that they then people to work on. BUT them termed all of us and we cant work. THEY SUCK

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litlmn 2 years, 6 months ago

Julie, as a former supervisor, this is absolutely no surprise. Remember, there was a program that was pulled from another one of their locations because they could not keep the quality that was requested by the client. That program was doubled in size with work by the client because they were so impressed with the quality of the team in Lawrence. They were far from perfect but impressive as a team none the less. Once that program was up and running like it never had before, they send it back out of town to the same location that couldn't keep the quality in prior attempts. None of what I have read here comes as a surprise to me. Not because they let me know what was going on, but because of the things I witnessed while employed there. There were some incredibly hard working people that I truly miss working along side (not to mention, very entertaining a lot of the time). All I can say is the one thing I am thankful for is the thought that these incredible people are now out from under the thumb of that lackluster dungeon.

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newmoonluna 2 years, 6 months ago

Well said litlmn. As a former supervisor myself, you explained it perfectly. I always felt their tactics were incomprehensible and morally mind draining. The one thing I WILL choose to remember about Affinitas is the many, many lasting friendships I made. Extremely thankful I jumped ship many years ago.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

I would like to say that i am sorry for my bad spelling above..my lap top was about to die, i could not spell cech.. sorry...Im not really this dumb. I am just very upset about that is going on..

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orlysud77 2 years, 6 months ago

It's so sad that Affinitas had to close their doors & that the old timers have to collect unemployment. The conditions in the facilty were against OSHA, with mice running around and the filth that everyone had to work in. The vents had never ever been cleaned out. Don't get me started about managment. I was kicked off here yesterday by LJW because I voiced my opinion. So, I guess there's no freedom of speech according to the terms & conditions of LJW.

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Alex Parker 2 years, 6 months ago

Your comment was removed to due language. And you are correct, you agreed to the terms of service, which lays out what kind of comments will be removed.

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julieloveselvis 2 years, 6 months ago

I would like to say hi n bye to all i worked with over the years. I really enjoyed worked with almost all of you. I am happy for all of you who got out early.. no hard feelings. Those that are still there, no real hard fellings, you got to have a job. Just dont forget that what has happened to all of us, will happen to you too.

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orlysud77 2 years, 6 months ago

Well I guess that I cannot put stars in the place of letters when using certain language. Sorry about that. Anyway, I think that the ex-employees are worth more and need to get a better job working in a more suitable environment, where they'll be treated like adults. Affinitas was in a basement with no windows (a dungeon), filthy, terrible plumbing in the bathrooms and employees being treated badly. Anyway, everything happens for a reason in life. I enjoyed the people I worked with which is the only thing that I'll miss.

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