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Uber closes downtown L.A. office, laying off about 80 people


Uber has closed a customer support office in downtown Los Angeles, laying off about 80 employees, the Times learned.

Without notice, staff members were told on Thursday that their work would be moved to a large customer support office the company maintains in Manila, according to sources who have asked to remain anonymous for fear of losing their severance pay.

In a recording obtained by The Times, Uber manager Ruffin Chevaleau admitted the meeting was called on short notice before delivering the news.

“We have decided to close the downtown Los Angeles office and will move the outreach and innovation work to our COE in Manila, where we can continue to support the business as it grows,” she said, using an abbreviation that stands for Center of Excellence, the internal term for customer support centers. “I know it’s a shock. The purpose of this meeting is to inform you that today is the last day in this office.

The employees were primarily customer support staff who were paid by the hour and focused on driver awareness, with tasks such as processing documents, resolving account issues and explaining issues. incentives and promotions. (Uber considers both drivers and passengers to be its “customers” and supports them in the same department.) Chevaleau told workers they would receive severance pay and could apply for jobs at Uber and meet a recruiter. She said the company would also cover relocation for those who have found jobs in other Uber offices.

“It’s not easy news to deliver,” said Chevaleau, manager of the company’s customer support office in Phoenix. “It was important for me to be here in person.”

In the months following its IPO, the transport company series of cuts to its workforce of more than 1,000, including in its marketing, autonomous driving and engineering departments. Uber and its competitor Lyft have set optimistic targets for achieving profitability in order to appease investors, and reducing operational costs is key to achieving those targets. This month, Uber went up his timeline to make a profit in the fourth quarter of 2020 from 2021.

The company’s customer support operation was several restructuring cycles since Uber’s beginnings. Initially, support operations were conducted from local municipal offices, but the company shifted to a workforce of largely remote hourly subcontractors in the United States and eventually to subcontractors in places like the Philippines and India. Simultaneously, Uber began hiring hundreds of full-time workers to staff a customer support center in Phoenix. This center continues to operate.

In July 2017, in response to a social media campaign known as #deleteUber that fueled months of public scandal and ultimately resulted in a management shake-up and a new CEO, the the company made an effort improve his relationship with the drivers. Rachel Holt, then head of operations in the United States and Canada, identified better driver support as a key to improving relationships.

The Santa Monica office where Uber houses operations workers has not been affected by the layoffs.

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