"Due to unusually high call volume..."

When calling customer service, I am more frequently encountering the new “not-our-fault” hold-time line:

“Due to unusually high call volume, you may encounter longer wait times”

or my new favorite…

“Due to overwhelming interest in our products and services…”

Lets cut the fucking bullshit. Everybody knows why we’re waiting on hold forever…

"Due to an effort to cut overhead, we are employing only a fraction of customer service representatives as we need to respond to calls in a timely fashion.

Waiting on hold is one thing. But this crap is enough to send me straight to your competitor.


Or my new favorite - “Due to unusually high call volume, we will not be able to respond to your problem tonight. Please call back tomorrow.”

Excuse the fuck out of me?? This is my checking account, where you’re holding my money, and I can’t fucking talk to anyone? My BANK is not available 24 hours a day? What if my checkbook has been stolen? What if I’m in dire need of my own cash and have no way to get it?

Mr. avabeth looked me funny when I threw the phone after hearing that one night - I’d called half hour before their own offices closed, and was told that they couldn’t talk to me that night.


My personal pet peeve is “Please listen carefully to our options, as items have recently been changed.” Which is weaselspeak for “Please sit through our long and boring drone and delay actually reaching a real human operator for another 40 seconds.”

My husband’s doctor does this. They just tell you to “call back later.” Riiiight. How about I just call some other doctor?

Have you ever tried to run a call center with no hold times, ever?

It’s fricking impossible!

Running customer service is walking this thin line. Too little volume or too much staff and we’re wasting tons of money with people doing nothing; too much volume or too little staff and our hold time will increase past acceptable limits.

More than 1-2 minutes or so of hold time and we’ll start dropping calls badly, and how we’re rated is based on the percentage of calls that reach an operator rather than hang up. We need to be below 5 percent - preferably, below 4 in case we have a bad day - but above 2 percent, otherwise we’re wasting money.

Keeping a call center fully staffed with competent reps that are doing what they are supposed to be doing at all times is nigh impossible at the going rate for customer service.

fluiddruid, I’ve worked in two call centers, both as a supervisor and as a lowly CSR. I understand about hold times. I’m fairly patient when it comes to hold times - if it means getting my problem solved, I’ll hold. I may not like being on hold for 45 minutes, but I remember seeing my phone at a solid red for five hours straight and freaking out because I knew I’d be taking call after call after call for the next five hours, and I’d be lucky if I could get into Wrap to take my scheduled break. I give CSRs and supervisors a break, especially when it comes to hold times - I know it’s not their fault.

However, I do hate being cut off from a call when there’s still plenty of time left in the workday. I don’t care if people have to stay a bit late to finish the calls left in the queue - especially when it comes to my checking account. Cut the queue off after the stated business hours, but if I’m calling during regular business hours, I expect my call to be taken, whether it’s 7:45 when they finally answer or 8:15. I consider it poor customer service to not allow me to get the information I need on my account during regular business hours.


I have to agree with avabeth. Hold times, long or otherwise, isn’t the issue she brought up. I’ve also called places that give the “Due to unusually high call volume…” recording and then HANG UP on you. Nothing pisses me off faster*! You have a high call volume and I’ll have to wait 45 minutes before speaking to someone? Then tell me that and give me the option of waiting or hanging up and trying again. Don’t make my decisions for me. Especially when something might not be able to wait until “off-peak” hours or the next day.

*I reserve the right to claim something else pisses me off faster when I’m discussing whatever else that may be. :smiley:

I do agree that asking the customer to call back tomorrow, especially regarding urgent matters, is bad service. My response was to the OP.

oooooo that happened to me once, but worse. 30 minutes on the phone to get some tech support for a router, only to be dropped. Then I have to get back in the goddamn queue for another 30 minutes. Having to wait for a long time sucks ass, but I can live with it if I get helped. Having to wait a double long time because they just dropped my call sucks double ass and just pisses me off.

OOOHH!! Dell ran me through the gamut this past week. I’ll try and make a long story short.

-Called them (after receiving an order confirmation that was wrong, attempting to correct it their way, [including a ‘Live Chat’ with a customer service rep, who told me ‘please contact our sales department to correct your problem’ and disconnected, after I had waited for her for 20 minutes] having my first order cancelled and a new one placed, then the second was wrong as well) to speak to the human specified on my order confirmation

-was directed through no less than three automated lines, to be told my specified human wasn’t available, please wait for the next available rep

-my call was dropped

-repeat above twice

-finally spoke to a human, who very graciously listened to and fixed my problem (which involved cancelling the second order and placing a third, corrected order…more on that in a sec)

Great, ok, so my computer shows up all bright and shiny, and I was happy.

-I realised my printer and digital camera hadn’t arrived, and checked the status of that order online (peripherals are ordered seperately from systems)

-printer and camera order had been cancelled. I’m like what the hell…so I get on the phone again (to the number they said call if I had a problem with orders)

-bunch of re-routes through various automated systems later, I spoke to a human, told her my problem, and she looked up my account. She said “It was cancelled by Financial. I can’t help you. Please call Dell Financial Services to resolve this complaint.” CLICK (“Bitch!”)

-calling financial services…menu option 2 - ‘For questions concerning recently placed orders’…beep!.."Thank you for calling Dell Technical Support. (huh?) Our business hours are from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday…(it was 1pm my time, noon theirs)

-repeat 3 frickin times, each time being re-routed to a different branch of service by pressing the same menu option. I threw my cel phone at the wall.

So what I figure happened was that when the third order was placed, the second hadn’t yet been cancelled. We have a set spending limit on our Dell account, and having two systems on it would have sent it way over the limit, so it auto-cancelled anything that had been placed prior. I ended up simply re-ordering them, but why someone couldn’t just tell me that, I don’t know. I would think that such a huge company could get their act straight. I don’t think I am being too harsh, either, having worked in call centers for years, at varying levels of authority.

I lied. This is a long story kept long. Thanks, though, because I would otherwise have made it its own cozy little thread in a couple of days.

Many times, a CSR will drop a call on purpose. It will lower his/her talk time on the phone. If a rep has just spent 30 minutes on a call with one person, dropping the second one that comes in will reduce that average talk time to 15 minutes.

Sad, but true.

'Have you ever tried to run a call center with no hold times, ever?

It’s fricking impossible!

Running customer service is walking this thin line. Too little volume or too much staff and we’re wasting tons of money with people doing nothing; too much volume or too little staff and our hold time will increase past acceptable limits.’

BullCaca. Check out the hold time to speak with a sales agent

I agree with the OP - it’s not the hold time, but the stupid messages. I work in a call center myself and my eyes rolled in our last desk meeting. We too have barely enough agents to answer all calls and so many callers end up in our voice mail system. There they state their problem and are called back ASAP. Sometimes we will not be able to solve the problem the same day, so we then call them to make an appointment for the next day.

Stupid Marketingspeak-Supervisor Chick: "When a customer complains about their problem not being fixed the same day, don’t say that we are really busy, that’s not professional. Say “due to an increased demand for support, we need to take calls by priority”.

Me: “Well, I agree that “we are really busy” is not very professional. However, throwing marketing lingo at the caller and basically telling them that their problem is low priority is not really a good idea …”

SMSC: “I think it sounds a lot more professional.”

Me: “I think it sounds like we’re treating our customers like they’re idiots.”


I firmly believe that ridding the world of voicemail and call trees will simultaneously reduce blood pressure and eliminate unemployment.

FACT: It costs more money to queue up callers and let them sit there for five minutes than it does to answer the calls within 90 seconds.

Most people have the patience not to abandon a call for as long as two minutes, and most dont mind holding for a minute.

Most call centers can be staffed intelligently, with an emphasis on taking paying customers in less than 30 secs or less important cutomers in 60-90. AFTER THAT, it costs money to have people sit around.

ONE MAJOR problem is that alll the call center improvements (staffing dynamics thanks to software. “Workforce management”) that came in the 90’s and 2000-2003 are ** going right out the friggin’ window temporarily** as all our overseas call centers who are sucking the jobs out of us get up to speed.

Call centers peaked in performance in about 2002, and just as that happened, every major call center headed to India, Phillipines, Jamaica, Indonesia, etc.

On paper, it’s a brilliant fucking move, but they always underestimate the staff needed because their handle times are MUCH longer because they can’t communicate effectively. So…the offshoring vendors promise X type of service, they staff for it, and then it falls apart when they finally have to admit that PRAVNACK can’t talk to US customers about their credit reports in five minutes, but that it takes him 7-12 minutes, and now they are understaffed, callers get queued for 3-5 minutes and people hang up, redial, hog the lines, and then other callers can’t get in.

This is bad call center stuff. It costs money. It is most efficient and cost effective to staff to the volumes, forecast and queue just the right number of people for just the right amount of time. And call centers have headed over seas to offshoring vendors who promisw what they can’t deliver and then piss off US customers.

And if you think SPEED is a problem, wait to Sanjay and Praveed try to deliver quality service to you.

You’ll be routing for the fucking Pakastanis by the second call.

“Do to unusually high demand…”

Gee, I’ve called you twenty times over three months. Each time I am told this is “unusally high demand.” Seems pretty “usual” to me.

“Your call is important to us”

If it were that damn important, you’d spend enough money to answer them in a reasonable time frame. I understand that its expensive having people sit there to “answer” the phones, but you aren’t paying CSRs $80,000 a year or anything. And I understand that I may need to go on hold for a minute. If your average hold time is over a minute, my call isn’t that damn important to you.
Don’t lie to me “In order to keep the cost of our products low and maximize profits, we keep our call centers staffed as lean as possible. Our hold times during 11:00 to 1:00 (whatever time you dial in) average ten minutes, but may be significantly longer if there is high volume. Please hold or use our web site where we will respond to your query in 48 hours.”

I’m going to earn back some good karma here, even though this is the Pit. I’m going to praise my banker. And my auto and life insurance company. And my broker. Never, calling any of them, have I had to sit on hold for more than two or three minutes. Every single time, if I needed to, I could talk to a human from the first menu. These call centers are all available 24 hours a day, and I never end a call dissatisfied – if I sound unhappy, they keep me on the line until they’ve made me happy. My secret? I use USAA. I know they’re not available to everybody, but ask a friend in the military about USAA’s customer service - ten to one you will hear serious, heartfelt praise. Not just “they’re okay, I guess,” but something more like “I can’t get over how good their service is.” I won’t bank anywhere else; I won’t get insurance anywhere else; I won’t ever move my brokerage account.

If you run a call center for a business, think about those statements. Don’t you think your CEO would like to hear someone say something like that about his company? It’s not impossible. It’s perfect customer service, and USAA has cracked the code on how to do it (I don’t know their methods; I’ve just seen their success). Now that I’ve been spoiled by them, anything less makes me think you’re not doing the best you can. You want loyal customers who will help your company’s bottom line and attract other customers through word of mouth? Call up USAA’s customer service and find out what they’re doing right.

I recently had to place a call to my satellite provider, and got the following message:

“All of our service representatives are currently with other customers. Please enter your phone number and a customer service representative will call you back within [automated voice] 8 minutes [/automated voice].”

Bu…wha…? I don’t have to sit on the phone, listening to your horrible muzak? I can just go about my day, and you’ll just… just… call me? Yep. They called me back within 5 minutes, asked for me by name, and solved my problem in no time.

Oh, and fuckity fucking fuckingstein. What with this being the Pit and all…

I second the post praising USAA.

When the son of an Air Force Colonel hit my car the Colonel’s USAA guy promptly answered the phone and arranged to meet me at the body shop I normally use and to look over the estimate with me. None of this “Get 3 estimates,send 'em to Bumfuck, Egypt, and wait till Hell freezes,” that most insurance companies give you.

He then arranged to have a rental car waiting for me at the shop the day the body man said that he could start work, and said to just leave the car at the shop when I was through with it (no finding another driver to help ferry the rental back to some inconvenient location).

I’ve never been treated better by any other insurance company.

Oh yeah. ** Dante’s ** post reminds me of another bitch of mine. When you call, fer instance, your credit card company and the computer asks you to punch in your 16 digit CC number. Then your zip code. Then this, that & the other. When you finally get a live person on the line, they ask for all the same information again. OK, so why the fuck did I just punch all of that into the phone?