"Hello, this is BT, can I have your postcode and P45 please?"
BT is to lose 1,000 call centre staff as part of its drive to consolidate around 150 facilities across the UK.
The cuts, to be made by BT Group but mainly affecting the BT Retail business unit, are being made to help shave £150m off the centres' annual £560m cost by March 2004.
While it is estimated around half a million Britons work in call centres enquiries made to staff have been falling. BT reckons its agents - within a call centre workforce of about 16,000 - handle around 15 per cent fewer calls than they did 18 months ago. Interactive voice response (IVR) and web-based systems are taking up the slack.
The latest cuts are still subject to an official announcement in March and consultation with unions.