Trying to reach Bargain Network call center in Goleta? Please hold while they relocate to Houston.

Bargain Network, a provider of pricing services including lists of home foreclosures and repossessed goods, is preparing to close by the end of this year. In the past few years, Bargain Network has also served as a resource for many part-time, job-seeking students in the area.

Bargain Network President Samara Jaffe said the company is closing its Goleta extension in an effort to merge its outlets.

“Last week we made an announcement to the company about plans to make changes to the business which involve integrating our call center with other parts of our parent company based in Norwalk, Conn.,” Jaffe said. “We will ultimately be closing the call center in [Goleta] at the end of this year.”

The call-center branch of the company, which employs around 320 people, will relocate to Houston in an attempt to expand the Texas location. During the past decade, the Goleta center has received numerous complaints from the Federal Trade Commission and the Santa Barbara Better Business Bureau. The bureau, which ranks local companies based on complaints it receives, gave Bargain Network an “F.”

Many of the current part-time workers at the call center are UCSB and Santa Barbara City College students who enjoy flexible work schedules. UCSB alumna and former employee Lizzie Lacey said it was unfortunate the company was moving.

“[While employed,] I could go to school full time and still earn $900 a week,” Lacey said. “It is a terrible loss. It was a perfect student job – lots of money and completely flexible hours.”

Jaffe said this move was not intended to displace current employees and that they will have options and ample time to adjust to the changes.

“We wanted to make sure our employees had as much time as possible, which is why we shared this news early, and everyone will receive generous severance packages and available assistance in finding new jobs,” Jaffe said.

Bargain Network is also urging all current workers, as well as potential future employees, to apply for other positions at their Hollister Avenue location.

“We’re not closing the business,” Jaffe said. “We’ll continue to have branches open in Santa Barbara and open positions in the company. There are still opportunities for jobs within Bargain Network in Santa Barbara, just not in the call center branch of the business.”

Goleta’s Bargain Network opened its doors in 1995 as a private program offered to consumers looking for deals on things like automobiles and consumer goods. Customers can call the center 24 hours a day and operators will compare local prices and find special deals for the customer.

However, the Better Business Bureau alleges that Bargain Network’s deals have a catch that includes signing up for a monthly fee. Additionally, the bureau alleges that few customers are properly told how to stop the monthly fee.

News of the closing was first reported in an article published last week in the Santa Barbara News-Press. The story, leaked by an anonymous employee at the company, warned of the closing, but said that it would happen suddenly without warning and that all Bargain Network call center employees would be let go. Jaffe, who said he was not interviewed before the story ran, has refuted those claims.

“The call center is not closing until the end of the year and as of now we don’t even have an ultimate date,” Jaffe said. “As people leave on their own, that number will get smaller, but those jobs are not affected right now. We wanted to make sure we gave our employees as much time as possible.”