How long is too long to be on “hold” with a company?
The unofficial record, at least in the travel industry, is said to belong to Andrew Kahn who spent 15 hours on “hold” with Qantas. I guess Qantas specializes in more than just long flights.
Patricia Streeter can do better. She claims she spent over 35 hours on “hold” with Expedia and American in an effort to secure an airfare refund. It doesn’t appear to have happened in a single call, so don’t call Guinness yet. But this is pretty bad.
And for me, that raises the question of how much “hold” time is too long.
Remember that GetVoIP survey? It suggested that the longest average hold time was less than 15 minutes. The honor goes to the team at Allegiant Air.
While I’m at it, I might as well refer to an article written by yours truly that puts wait times into some historical perspective.
Here are the results from the 2011 survey:
|Internal Revenue Service||9|
Rest in peace, Continental.
Here are a few details about Streeter’s lengthy “hold” time. She’d booked tickets to Rome to celebrate her daughter’s 50th birthday.
“I fell one week before departure and broke my shoulder,” she says, “so we had to cancel.”
Her hotel in Rome refunded her money immediately, but the airline tickets were a “nightmare,” she says. They tried to reschedule their American Airlines flights but encountered a barrage of “no’s” and fees. The scorecard: American, 6 hours; Expedia, 14 hours.
“It doesn’t seem right,” she says.
Our advocacy team asked for Streeter’s email correspondence between her, American and Expedia. Phone conversations are not always the most efficient way of getting a resolution, something we know from years and years of mediating disputes.
Then Streeter sent us an update. She’d spent an additional 15 hours on the phone with Expedia, bringing her resolution time to a grand total of 35 hours, and had finally saved the $3,318 in airfare by rescheduling a trip to Mexico on American.
“Not an ideal resolution,” she says, “but adequate.”
To which I say: Not ideal, not adequate.
Let’s take the ticket credit and the fees, some of which are unconscionable, off the table for a minute. Let’s just talk about the “hold” times to which Streeter was subjected.
Even if she didn’t endure a 35-hour call all at once (which would, indeed, be some kind of record) it is really not right that she should sacrifice that much time to fix the problem. Even if it took half that long, it’s wrong. Beyond wrong.
Shouldn’t there be some limit on resolving customer service problems? I mean, can’t we all agree that 35 hours is way, way, waaaaay too long? How can Expedia and American allow something like this to happen? Why couldn’t Expedia, as Streeter’s travel agent, own the problem, work on it, and get back to her with a resolution instead of making her fight for more than a full day?