Stuck On Hold

It’s almost impossible to call a business or organization and have your call answered by a human being anymore.

And to talk to an actual human being, you first have to go through automated menu hell.

It doesn’t matter how recently the menu options were changed. Even if they haven’t been changed in the last 10 years, the recording still says: “Please listen carefully as our menu options have recently changed.”

Then it goes to the menu of options. If you want to talk to an actual human, you can be sure it will be the last option offered to you. And you can count yourself lucky if you don’t have to go through multiple layers of menus to get to that option.

After you have successfully navigated your way to the point they are going to put you in touch with a person, you’re frequently asked to provide information about yourself first. For example, the recording may ask you for your account number or other such information to identify you. I’m not sure what the point of this is considering whoever you end up talking to will ask for this same information again anyway.

Then you have to listen to another recording that lets you know how everyone is busy at the moment due to the high volume of calls (despite how important your call is to them), and that your call will be answered in the order it was received. It sometimes gives estimated wait times, and It will usually let you know how you might be able to accomplish whatever your calling about online by visiting their website instead of continuing to hold. The recording might also try to plug something else they offer, and they will let you know that your call might be monitored or recorded for training purposes.

Then you go to holding mode….

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, this usually meant that some reel-to-reel taped muzak would play. Because it played so often, the tape would become stretched over time and sound distorted. Despite the fact we’re now in the digital age, the muzak they play still sounds just like those old distorted reel-to-reel tapes. It’s also usually unpleasantly loud.

While you’re waiting on hold, listening to this horrible muzak, the recording about how everyone is busy due to the high volume of calls will repeat (as if anyone holding must have Alzheimer’s and will need to be reminded every 20 seconds or else they’ll forget).

It’s like they are doing everything in their power to avoid having you talk to an actual person.

Then when you do finally get someone on the phone, all too frequently they have to transfer you to someone else where you have to go through the holding process all over again, or, when they try to make the transfer, you get disconnected and have to start all over at square one.

And if you ever end up having to talk to a specific person at the place you’re calling, 99% of the time you’ll find they are away from their phone or away from their desk. You’ll have to leave a message and wait for them to call you back at their convenience, not yours. I’m not sure why so many people are so rarely at their work station anymore unless it’s because everyone seems to be spending more time in meetings where they can spend time talking about work rather than spending time actually doing it.