Crossed off the list 

An examination of the grounds at 288 Expressway in Missoula says more about the state of national telemarketing company Cross Media Marketing than the company’s own corporate office is willing to. In front and to the side of the company’s Missoula office hang large signs reading “Now Hiring” in red letters. The doors serve as pasteboards for signs advertising recruitment bonuses, sign-on bonuses and production bonuses. Yet the parking lot is deserted in the middle of the would-be workday.

A neighbor at Mountain Tile and Stone, which operates adjacent to the Cross Media office, says she heard the company was bought out.

“Everybody’s just disappeared,” she said.

Cross Media’s Montana woes began on May 1 when the company unexpectedly shut down its offices in Lolo and Hamilton, where at least 40 people were let go. At that time, Cross Media management offered its employees the chance to move to the Missoula office. Some did. Now that office has closed down as well. Calls to Cross Media’s corporate office in New York City were not returned, though a Cross representative there, Deborah McGovern, said she didn’t know the status of the Missoula office.

Even if Cross’ corporate office doesn’t know, Mary Behr at Missoula Job Services does. Behr hosted a job resource meeting on Thursday, June 26 for approximately 50 former Cross Media Marketing employees who lost their Missoula jobs. Behr says it’s likely that even more were laid off in Missoula; Job Services was unable to contact everyone from the now-abandoned office.

“We don’t think we got everybody,” says Behr, who says the layoffs came as a shock to employees.

“I think most of them were surprised at this. They came in one day and were told that day, so it was a real sudden type of thing. I do know that [Cross has] filed for bankruptcy in New York, so I don’t know if that was the reason for them closing or not. Nobody really has an answer to that.” Without access to Cross executives, it’s not possible to state with certainty the cause of the layoffs. But news of the closure arrived almost hand-in-hand with the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) newly launched “do not call list” initiative. On July 1, the FTC launched a Web site for consumers to register their exemption from telemarketing. Cross Media Marketing solicits sales of everything from magazine subscriptions to travel packages to exercise equipment over the phone. Lacking an explanation from corporate, one can only assume that no one was buying.

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