GCI will close Wrangell store, blames reduced walk-in business

Internet, cable television and cell service provider GCI will be closing its Wrangell store on Oct. 28 after “many years,” a company spokesman said.

Citing a “significant reduction in foot traffic,” the company decided to close the store on Front Street, but will still have a technician on the island for any necessary service calls.

“We do maintain 24 other retail stores throughout the state, including four in Southeast Alaska,” said Josh Edge, media relations specialist with GCI in Anchorage. The nearest store will be in Petersburg. There are stores in Ketchikan, Sitka and Juneau as well.

Based in Alaska, GCI was founded in 1979, and opened its Wrangell location in 1996. The company sold to Englewood, Colorado-based Liberty Broadband in December of 2020. The Wrangell store employs two customer service representatives and one technician.

“We’re working closely with employees who will be impacted by this closure to find other potential opportunities for them to remain with GCI,” Edge said. “And with 70% of GCI employees working remotely, there are many opportunities for those employees to both continue working for GCI and remain in Wrangell.”

Edge said the reduction of in-person visits to the stores reflects customers becoming more tech savvy and able to install equipment or troubleshoot any issues. Technical support or customer service for Wrangell will be handled via a contracted call center in the Philippines at 1-800-800-4800.

“Especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, customers have become less likely to visit stores in person,” Edge said. “In fact, we saw a large increase in call volumes over the last few years, which created very long wait times — much longer than we thought was acceptable. Since we transitioned to our call center in the Philippines (last year), we have been able to reduce wait times from over an hour to under five minutes for 95% of calls.”

 

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