Hamish Fletcher

Business reporter for the NZ Herald

Vodafone shuts Egypt call centre

Vodafone New Zealand has taken on more than 100 extra workers after unrest in Egypt temporarily closed down its Cairo call centre.

About 180 staff are employed in the centre, which provides customer service for Vodafone's prepaid and on-account consumer customers.

Vodafone New Zealand has three call centres in Auckland and one based in Cairo.

Two Vodafone New Zealand staff and their families, who were based in Cairo, were evacuated over the weekend.

Local Egyptian workers are being advised to stay at home.

Vodafone's director of service Kelly Moore said although customer service wait times were around seven or eight minutes over the weekend, they dropped to under a minute yesterday.

Customers may still experience delays while calling Vodafone during the night, Moore said.

The wait time was a minute and a half when the Herald called Vodafone from an on-account phone Tuesday morning.

Moore said the extra staff answering calls in New Zealand included volunteers from Vodafone staff and "considerable number of former employees who have called us and wanted to help out".



"We will continue to answer calls in New Zealand until the crisis has stabilised," she said.

The next stage for Vodafone was sourcing more workers to ensure customer service is maintained.

Vodafone New Zealand has 31 roaming customers in Egypt, who the telco has been trying to get in touch with.

"We sent a text to all of them, we can't be sure that all the texts got through," Vodafone's Tom Chignell said.

Vodafone roaming was dropped in Egypt for a day over the weekend at the request of the Egyptian authorities, but international calling and texting services have now been restored, Chignell said.

Vodafone is committed to keep the Cairo centre open, but this depends of the evolving political situation in Egypt.

"We are just going to wait and see. We might have a better picture in a week or two," she said.

Moore said the disruption should not be seen as a reason to keep call centres in New Zealand.

"I don't think this event necessarily gets us to change our view on off shoring but I guess for us the thing is, that we can [experience] disruption to our business at any time by any event and where the location is, is not part of the factor."

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