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New Verizon Call Center Stirs Neighborhood, Upsets Residents

January 15, 2010
By Kelly McGuire - Telemarketing Software Editor

Just 16 months after moving in to his brand new house, in his nice residential neighborhood of Elgin, South Carolina, Joe Jacobs is thinking of packing up, selling and moving out.
Because in the fall of this year, Verizon (News - Alert) Wireless is set to open its new call center – right in Jacobs back yard.

And while the construction for any homeowner in the neighborhood is a nuisance, the residents of Woodcreek Farms Subdivision in Northeast Richland County are more concerned about what will happen after the construction is done, the ribbons are cut and the call center is up and running.
According to Jacobs, had he known the future of his backyard, he would not have foot the bill for the seclusion the Elgin neighborhood once provided and selected another area to reside.
While Jacobs knew the land behind his property would be sold eventual to some company, he never expected a 24-hour call center with over 1,500 employees would be his fate.
A restaurant maybe, but a massive building lit up all hours of the night, seven days a week? Not a resident’s dream, that’s for sure.
Richland County Councilmember Valerie Hutchinson met with county administrators Wednesday morning to discuss the issue and see if there was any way to eradicate the problem.
“The concerns are valid and we're going to address them one at a time,” Hutchinson said, adding that the county will propose three requests to the wireless provider in hopes of them comply to keep the residents as content as possible.
Included in the requests is for Verizon to plant tall trees to block the call center lights from spilling into the neighborhood.
And since the call center will undoubtedly add more traffic, the county is asking Verizon to stagger employees schedules so that nobody gets off work at the same time as the dismissal from the Pontiac Elementary School located across from the Verizon building.
Lastly, Hutchinson said the group will request that Verizon blocks employee access to Woodcreek Ridge Road, a main street through the neighborhood.
“I've had some initial conversations and I think Verizon is interested in being a good corporate neighbor,” Hutchinson said.

For some residents – like Jacobs – the efforts may still not suffice.
“It makes me feel like contacting the CEO of Verizon and see if this is something he'd be comfortable with in his backyard,” Jacobs said.
Whether Verizon will agree to the terms is unknown, but one thing’s for certain: if they don’t, they’re going to have quite a few disgruntled neighbors on their hands.

Kelly McGuire is a TMCnet Web editor, covering CRM and workforce technologies, and anchor of its daily TMC Newsroom video broadcast. Kelly also writes about eco-friendly "green" technologies and smart grids, compiling TMCnet's weekly e-Newsletters on those topics, as well as the cable industry. To read more of Kelly's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Kelly McGuire