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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 September, 2003, 11:42 GMT 12:42 UK
Phone firm fails to save jobs
Conduit's 118 888 service
Conduit was one of the few to compete on prices
More than 110 jobs are to go at a call centre in Cardiff set up 12 days ago after directory inquiries services were opened up to competition.

There are 20 new services to choose from and the tough competition has taken its toll on the centre in Cardiff's St Mary's Street, it emerged on Thursday.

Operators Dublin-based Conduit also announced 110 job losses from their Welwyn Garden City centre in Hertfordshire and 30 jobs lost from their Gloucester call centre.

Conduit - which provides directory inquiry services in the UK, Ireland, Switzerland and Austria -said the sacked workers were taken on as temporary staff in the full knowledge that they might lose their jobs quickly.

"It was not possible to predict the levels of calls made to various 118 services once 192 was switched off," a spokesman said.

'Strategic decision'

"Conduit put in place the capacity to handle more calls than it expected to receive through a mixture of its own staff and short-term agency staff.

"It was a strategic decision to have over-capacity which could be quickly scaled back rather than face the criticism other 118 services have had struggling with increased demand."

The 118888 service is one of the cheaper services around although it has a few added extras such as SMS text delivery and business classifieds.

On Wednesday, it was announced that dozens of similar jobs at a call centre in Belfast were also to go.

Operators TeleTech said it could not confirm an exact figure for job losses, but said it would be less than 100.

Like the centre in Cardiff, it only began taking calls for its new directory enquiries service last month.

Telecoms watchdog Oftel, which is behind the 192 change, says it will mean improved value for the 300m callers spend on 700 million calls to the service every year.

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