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Tech Industry

Outsourcing firm shutdown flusters TiVo

Warehouse closures in Tennessee and Nevada send some tech companies scrambling for alternate direct-shipping partners.

TiVo, XM Satellite and other companies are scrambling to find new direct-shipping partners after the sudden closure of a Tennessee-based outsourcing firm over the weekend.

Metron North America, which supplies satellite radio and TV equipment, shuttered its warehouses in Andersonville, Tenn., and Sparks, Nev., on Friday, according to TiVo spokesman Elliot Sloan. TiVo relied on Metron to handle some of its customer call center duties and hardware distribution. TiVo's service lets users pause live TV and save massive amounts of programming.

The impact of the unexpected shutdown was negligible, TiVo's Sloan said, commenting that there was "no disruption in shipping with any recently ordered products." The company, however, expects to announce a new distribution partner later this week, he said.

In addition, TiVo and Metron's other customers were required to remove their products from the Metron warehouses or risk having the merchandise sit idle while Metron executives chose their next plan of action, Sloan said, joking that some very lucky shipping companies made a lot in overtime this weekend.

Because of Metron's closure, TiVo's phone sales directed customers to the TiVo Web site. Ordering a TiVo electronics product online directs consumers to a BestBuy-sponsored site. Products like T-shirts, mugs and extra remotes were not available on the TiVo site on Monday.

An XM Satellite spokeswoman said the company experienced no immediate disruption in shipping any of its products. She also confirmed that the company was looking for a replacement for Metron.

Representatives with Samsung, Toshiba and Philips, which also utilized Metron's services, were not immediately available to comment.

Circuit City spokeswoman Amanda Tate said earlier reports of any contract work between the electronics retailer and Metron were unfounded.

As for the remaining Metron employees, a small percentage of the 340 who were let go and did not pick up their paychecks on Friday were expected to say goodbye today, according to local television reports.

A representative for Metron was not immediately available to comment on the closure. The company's outsourcing services included customer call center sales and service, commercial and residential installation and field repair, and logistics and distribution.

Metron gave no indication that it was financially in trouble, according to employees interviewed in Tennessee. Metron was one of DirecTV's two largest distributors but lost the contract earlier this year, television reports said.