Amazon Backtracks on Controversial Customer Service Decision

Earlier this week, employees at Amazon shared that the company was planning to eliminate its “Virtual Customer Service Reserves” customer service program, which allows people to work minimal, flexible hours from their homes, often clocking in as few as 12 hours per week. These roles were ideal for stay-at-home parents seeking lighter schedules or differently abled individuals unable to commute and work at an office-based position. 

The cutback threatened to eliminate at least 1,000 jobs, which involved handling customer service calls about basic issues such as undelivered packages, product questions, and other common problems. “As our customer service organization continues to evolve, Amazon continuously seeks to improve our dedicated support for customers and growing business needs. Amazon reviews business needs to best serve customers and to provide all employees with a consistent experience,” an Amazon representative said in a statement when the news broke. 

For the employees that were part of the Reserves program, Amazon offered a handful of options: Take on more hours by moving to a "flex" customer service role in which employees work up to 29 hours per week, apply for another role at Amazon, or terminate their employment and accept a severance package.

But as word spread throughout the company and the news began to surface, Amazon backpedaled on its decision. On Friday, the e-retailer released another statement: “We think we missed the mark in explaining our goal—to be super clear, our intention is to offer more opportunity and hours for people in our Reserves program. For anyone who is not able to shift to more hours, we are committed that no one loses their job.” 

It’s not entirely clear what will happen to the Reserves program, which was originally set to end on November 10, but for the time being, it appears that the customer service workers it currently employs are safe.

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