The time wasted hanging on the lineAverage wait is nearly 5 minutes, says report

01 November 2007

 

A man on the phone

One third of British adults have received a scam phone call

People waste 60 million hours each year on hold on customer service lines, new research suggests.

Callers were also exposed to 1.2 billion tunes while kept waiting on the phone by service providers including utility suppliers and phone and internet providers, with songs by Enya and Celine Dion topping a poll of the most irritating numbers played down the line.

The ICM survey of 1,001 people, itself carried out over the phone for 24-hour bank First Direct, found there was an average wait of almost five minutes to speak to someone, leading 69% of respondents to hang up.

Phone companies

The worst offenders were phone companies, with customers typically waiting more than eight minutes before getting through.

Waits on hold to internet providers were almost as bad at just under eight minutes, while water companies only kept callers waiting for an average of three and a half minutes.

Being kept waiting for hours at home for deliveries or suppliers also incurred consumer wrath.

Lengthy wait

Goods bought on the internet and delivered were most likely to cause a lengthy wait at home and nearly half of respondents (47%) said they would pay more to have items delivered within a one-hour slot.

Builders were the most likely tradesmen to turn up late, the survey found.

The report also said people found the widespread use of push-button menus an annoyance: 87% said they always preferred to speak to a real person.

More than two thirds said it was frustrating being transferred from person to person before reaching the right one.

The most irritating songs played to callers on hold were:

1. My heart will go on, by Celine Dion

2. Orinoco Flow (Sail Away), by Enya

3. Greensleeves

4. Sailing, by Rod Stewart

5. the William Tell Overture

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