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The Hell of being put on hold – Sam Llewellyn

Blog | By Sam Llewellyn | Nov 03, 2021


Here at the Institute for Irrelevant Studies it has been a long old winter, as we are told it has been elsewhere, though thanks to social distancing and all that we have only rumour's word for it. We have however been spending quite a lot of time trying to telephone public utilities and banks and so on. I am on the phone now, holding. On and on it goes. You know the story.

1. The website does not answer your question.

2. Pick up the phone. Dial. Listen to the robot voice, which in recent months has changed from HM the Queen to roboSurbiton, presumably to make the caller feel included. Note that the robot voice says that due to exceptionally high call volume the wait will be a long one. Note also that it is 4 a m on a rainy Tuesday and you are practically the only caller awake or anyway with the basic energy to undertake this horrid task.

3. Listen to the hold music. Start off by being glad that at least it is a bit of Bach instead of someone telling you in a high nauseating drone that Mudd Building Supplies supplies fine building materials suitable for building buildings and appreciated by most builders of buildings. Then notice that the Bach is actually a phrase on a loop that stops in the middle of a bar before repeating, and that while you have been holding it has repeated 412 times, and that between each snippet there is a patently insincere apology and a suggestion that you go to the website, which did not answer your question in the first place, which is why, soddit, you are here.

4. Tell yourself that it would be folly to plunge phone into bucket of water as you would be damaging nobody but yourself.

5. Tell yourself that it would be silly to ring off now as you have only been waiting for 45 minutes and what is 45 minutes compared to the infinite and possibly circular concatenation of events we call eternity? (45 minutes, is what).

6. Throw phone at wall. Renounce all worldly things and go to live in crate in wood.

I am still holding.

This kind of thing has happened so often that the woods are filling up with crates; and here at the Institute for Irrelevant Studies we have decided that enough is enough. We have therefore instituted the Hold On I'm Coming (HOIC) phone queuing service. To use, pay a mere £300 per year to IIS (Cayman Islands) account, and our trained operatives will take care of the queuing, patching you through to the corporate telephone operatives when the long long wait is over. This is a system that almost immediately proved its worth and saved many many person hours that would otherwise have been wasted, and were spent on labours to the benefit of society, the balance of trade, literature and the arts.

Actually, though, in a sudden burst of irony of a kind the universe provides with an unstinting hand, the HOIC service has become a victim of its own popularity. Pressure of calls has meant that we have had to institute a queuing system, and waits have been getting unacceptably long. We cannot be having with long waits, as we do not share the scorn for our customers demonstrated by (say) HSBC, BT, and many another bunch of sharks hiding behind initials. The only option has been to institute our Gold Star service, fee £2000 a year payable to Acme Services (Bermuda), by which you employ someone to queue for you as you attempt to contact the HOIC service. This has also proved dazzlingly popular and has indeed given rise to queues of its own, and we are this week introducing Diamond Star HOIC, fee 1 bitcoin payable to a guy called Dave behind the Chairman Xi Memorial urinals -

Bloody hell someone has answered. After forty-eight minutes I have finally got through. Hello?

Hello –

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Call failed.

Gimme a bottle of gin and a mug. Also a crate, for I am away to the woods.