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Geico to Hire 230 at Call Center

Feb 15, 2007

By SHELLEY SHELTON, ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Insurance giant Geico said Thursday it is planning to hire about 230 policy-service and claim-service representatives at its Tucson office by the end of the year. The jobs start at $14 an hour, potentially more for candidates who can work evenings.

Geico opened its customer- service operations center at 930 N. Finance Center Drive in 2003, and it has grown to more than 600 employees.

In September, the company announced plans to add 600 Tucson jobs in a 15-month period. Since then, it has added more than 125 positions.

The 230 jobs announced this week are part of the previously announced expansion plan, said Charlotte Fick, human-resources manager at the Tucson Geico office.

"It's not as many as the 600 we originally thought about," she said. But the wages are higher than they've been, she said.

The company is starting customer-service workers at $14 an hour with a 10 percent shift differential for people whose shifts begin after 1 p.m., Fick said.

Though some firms have scaled back or eliminated their call- center presence in Tucson, the industry here is not shrinking, said Laura Shaw, vice president of marketing and communications for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities.

"Most of the customer-service centers here seem to be expanding," Shaw said.

The closures are indicative of the stiff competition for employees, she said.

Such competition is good because it raises wages and benefits for these kinds of jobs, she said.

"Sometimes the lower-paying ones will shake themselves out, so to speak."

Call centers come to this region for a variety of reasons, she said, including the availability of a bilingual work force and the Mountain Time Zone that allows for more work hours as people work with customers on both coasts.

"For many Tucsonans, they're probably very good, solid opportunities," Shaw said.

Geico, originally an acronym for Government Employees Insurance Co., is the fourth-largest private passenger-auto insurer in the nation.

Did you know...

* About 40 call centers are located in the Tucson area, employing about 16,000 workers or about 4 percent to 5 percent of Tucson's work force, said Laura Shaw, spokeswoman for Tucson Regional Economic Opportunities.

* Geico, Intuit, Citigroup, Sears, Convergys, Cox Communications and American Airlines have customer- service centers in Tucson.

* Call-centers in the Tucson area pay $10 to $13 on hour, often with substantial benefits, bonuses and career paths, Shaw said.

How to apply

* To submit an application online, go to www.geico.com and click on the Careers tab. Then open the link to GEICO locations and select Tucson for job listings and to fill out an online employment application.

* Call 1-888-852-6362 or, in Tucson, dial 296-JOBS (5627).

* Contact reporter Shelley Shelton at 434-4086 or sshelton@azstarnet.com.

(c) 2007 Arizona Daily Star. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.



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