Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Monday, April 03, 2006

For quality control, your call may be ignored

I had a Cranky Consumer moment the other day. I was paying bills, and suddenly realized that I was paying the same bill I had paid a couple months ago, for a life insurance premium. I ran a report from Quicken and, sure enough, I was paying two annual premiums for a policy. I dig a little deeper into my files and discover that when I switched from a ten-year-term policy to a twenty-year-term policy, they just wrote a new 20-year policy and kept charging me for both a ten and a twenty year policy. WTF?

I called the insurance company directly, where I patiently wait on hold. The prevalance of speaker-phones have probably not helped hold times, because now companies figure they can make people wait longer because they are not really standing there holding a phone to their ear. So I wait . . . and wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. Even though I'm trying to work while I'm on hold, I'm still waiting long enough to realize that this is an awfully long time to wait. Long enough that I get to thinking: how can they afford to keep customers waiting so long?

Then I realize that this is the perfect storm of long customer service hold time. This is life insurance. People only call life insurance companies approximately once in their lives: to cancel a policy. They don't call to set up policies -- they have independent agents who do that, and send them the business. And, of course, people call to collect on an insurance policy -- but that wouldn't be during your lifetime, would it? ;-}

Either way, when the phone rings at an insurance company, it's not good news for them. So what's the rush? Why hire two people to answer the phone when one can do the job? It's not like you need to worry about those people who want to cancel their policy; eventually they'll just give up and stop paying the premium anyway. And it's not like you're worried about making the beneficiaries of a policy wait: if we're going to give them a million bucks for their dead husband, they can damn well wait thirty minutes, can't they? And it's not like their going to hang up in a huff and take their business elsewhere, because who wants to go through all that hassle of getting a policy again? Who wants to have to talk to a life insurance salesman more than once?

So, if you want to find the absolute world-record holder for time on hold with customer service, you need to find a company that:
  1. Has very, very few transactions with customers.
  2. Doesn't sell directly to customers, but rather has someone else do the selling for them.
  3. Has absolutely no reason to actually want to talk to you
  4. Is in a field where the cost and/or hassle of changing vendors is prohibitively high

So, who would you predict would have the longest hold time?

If it's not life insurance companies, my next guess would be . . .



Post a Comment

<< Home