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Verizon Wireless to Shut Call Centers, Relocate Employees

Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile-phone carrier, said it is closing three U.S. call centers and relocating employees because it wants to improve customer service and make better use of existing facilities.

Call centers in Southfield, Michigan; Bellevue, Washington; and Houston will be shut down by the end of the year, Basking Ridge, New Jersey-based Verizon Wireless said today in an e- mailed statement. The closures will affect 3,175 employees.

Verizon Wireless is taking steps to rein in costs after capital spending rose 6.3 percent in 2011. The carrier is trying to keep pace with rival AT&T Inc. (T) as it spends billions of dollars to improve and expand its network to cope with soaring data traffic driven by the Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone.

Verizon Wireless will offer to relocate employees “in good standing” to similar positions at the 28 U.S.-based centers that are continuing operations. The carrier will give individualized severance packages for employees who opt to leave and will provide an after-tax $10,000 relocation benefit for those who move.

Additionally, Verizon Wireless is merging two northern California call centers into one and consolidating two “Internet Response” centers in Ohio and Illinois.

“We are realigning our call center portfolio in order to maximize existing company resources and real estate assets and enhance customer service,” Verizon said in the statement.

The wireless carrier is owned by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) and Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) and employs about 82,000 people in the U.S.

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net

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