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eBay to open service center in Utah

Slated to open in July, the new center will employ "hundreds" of new workers. It marks eBay's first move outside Silicon Valley.

    Online auctioneer eBay will open a customer service center in the Salt Lake City suburb of Draper, chief executive Meg Whitman and Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt are scheduled to announce later today.

    The new center, slated to open in July, will be eBay's first operating center outside Silicon Valley, eBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove said, confirming a story in today's Salt Lake Tribune.

    "It's a recognition that customer support is critical to what we do," Pursglove added.

    "When you're hiring here locally, you're hiring a very specific type of person," he said, noting that eBay's users are spread across the nation and the world.

    eBay said it will add "several hundred" new customer support workers in Utah, roughly doubling its customer service department. Overall the company has 350 employees, and it has said it wants to add another 450 by year's end.

    In February, eBay dropped live customer support from its Support Q&A message board. The company said it receives more than 65,000 emails to its customer support address each week.

    In addition to diversifying its employee who communicate with customers, eBay may also have been trying to move to a lower-cost area for doing business. Pursglove declined to comment on any cost savings.

    eBay's customer support division has been growing rapidly as it scales up to keep up with the person-to-person auction service's increasing user base. The company reported that as of March 31 it had 3.8 million users, up from 2.1 million on December 31, 1998.