Please Continue To Hold

Being put on hold when I call somewhere bothers me. Not because while I’m sitting there I’m thinking about how an office full of people sitting around drinking coffee are laughing it up at the expense of all of the people on hold, I don’t have to think that, I know that’s what they’re doing, just trust me on this one.

What gets to me are the little things that companies do to you while you’re on hold. Things like repeating the same hold message over and over again every 60 seconds. You know the one I’m talking about.

“Thank you for calling the Big Roy’s High Powered Sex Toys customer support hotline. All of our agents are currently busy assisting other callers. Your call is important to us and will be held in priority sequence to be answered in the order in which it was received.”

Sometimes there’s more to it, but you get the idea. And the longer you spend on hold, the more you can’t help but get the idea, because they keep repeating it until it’s hammered so deeply into your subconscious that without thinking about it you’re thanking ramdom people for their patience and telling your children that their good night hugs and bedtime stories may be monitored and/or recorded for quality control and training purposes.

Why do we need to keep hearing that message? Sure it’s nice to have some sort of a sign that we haven’t been forgotten, left in the wilderness that is hold with nothing to survive on but random stuff on the desk that we can play with, but there comes a point when it stops being a friendly sign from a higher power and starts being the corporate equivalent of your friends laughing at you because you fell on your ass on the dance floor the other night. They just keep rubbing it in, making you feel even worse about the situation than you already do.

I think that there should be some sort of rule that says that companies can’t play that message more than once every 10 minutes unless they have more than 1. At least then while we’re spending the next hour and a half on hold there’ll be some guess work and we can make a little game out of it. Something like Guess The Annoying message That’s Sucking Valuable Seconds Out Of My Life That I’llNever Get Back. I kind of like the sound of that, it’s catchy.

This rule would also include a provision that says that if your company uses hold music, then no matter how many messages you have, the once every 10 minutes rule cannot be waived under any circumstances because somebody might be humming along with the song and it’s really annoying when we get stopped in the middle of what little fun we have. It’s like when you’re in the grocery store and a song comes on that you kind of like or just feel like singing. You start getting into it a little only for some kid to come on the PA system sounding like she’s got the telephone jammed in her mouth telling bread products to pick up on line 3. That drives me nuts. I understand that bread products needs to take his phone call, but why can’t it wait until Billy Joel is over?

This is especially important when the line you’re holding is playing a radio station. That stupid hold message always, and I do mean always comes on in the middle of either the weather, the news or some other semi-interesting story that I might want to hear. It happens so much of the time that I’m convinced they do it on purpose.

And speaking of music, why is it that the people responsible for creating the muzac we love so much feel the need to make elevator music out of songs that are pretty much elevator material already? I’m talking about songs that are already as mellow as they could possibly get. Stuff like “Rocket Man” and “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” by Elton John. Songs that you would have to turn off to make any quieter. On hold the other day I actually heard a muzac version of “Smooth” by Santana. What the hell is that? Sure it’s not the softest song in the world, but it’s still on every soft rock station in the universe 11000 times a day and the way that it was done defeated the purpose of what muzac is supposed to be all about. It was a soundalike version of the song. Same sounding guitars, same beat, same tempo, just no singing. What’s the point? Why not just play the original one instead of paying some company to create something like that. And if you happen to be somebody who creates things like that for a living or as a hobby, why that song? Why not at least be original while you’re ripping people off and muzac some Pantera or something? At least it would be a bit of a challenge and it would make people take notice. Whether that’s good or bad I’ll let you decide but it’s certainly got to be better than cloning songs that don’t need any tweaking to fit in with hold sequences and dentist offices. Doing that doesn’t make you look like an artist, it makes you look like a cover band that was too cheap to hire a singer.

Now back to those hold messages for a second. Why is it that when you call the My Internet Is Broken division of your ISP that they tell you to visit their website? What part of my internet is broken are they not getting?

But there is a bright side to being put on hold and left there for a little while. It gives you time to think, at least it does for me. I’m sitting there, not having to focus on anything and it lets my mind go off in all different directions, sometimes even coming up with something a little bit worthwhile. But as with the rest of the holding experience, something always has to ruin it. This always happens when you’re on the verge of coming up with something really great, like finally figuring out what the meaning of life is. It’s at that moment that they decide to rudely interrupt you by taking your call. I guess we can never win.

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