back to article Airline leaves customer on hold for 15 hours

Australian airline Qantas has denied claims it left a customer on hold … for 15 hours 40 minutes and one second. The claims were made by a customer who has told Fairfax media and news.com.au that he called to confirm a flight and, upon hearing the usual canned messages about what a valued and deeply-loved customer he is, …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trying to contact Barclaycard over a period of 5 working days I was kept on hold for a total of 9 and a half hours.

    I wrote to complain and they replied 3 weeks later.

    1. Dave 8
      Coat

      Stop bragging

      I dream of having them ONLY keeping me on hold for 9½ hours.

      1. Anonymous Coward 15
        Joke

        When I were a lad

        etc.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      MOOO Gold Medal

      Vodafone Australia puts QANTAS in the shade, being the world record holder in the Maximum Offshore Outsourcing Off-pissing category hands down!

  2. Grendel
    FAIL

    The really don't "get it"

    Forget the 11+ hours hold time, why do Quantas think that 17 minutes is acceptable as a hold time?

    Its utter clap-trap to tell customers that they are "valued and respected" and then treat them with contempt by under manning call centres, rationing resources and making people wait.

    If Quantas think that 17 minutes is acceptable then they won't be getting ANY of my business.

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      What's a Quantus?

      Seventeen minutes was their claimed maximum hold time. There's no statement regarding what they consider to be acceptable in the article.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The really don't "get it"

      17 minutes of premium line waiting equates to around £8.50 on your phone bill in the UK.

      Why do you think they keep you on hold?

      1. Daniel Hall
        Trollface

        Re: The really don't "get it"

        If its 0844 or 0845 its about 10p a minute, or completely free on some phone operators

        Talk talk, free 0844 0845 as standard with my package

        Where did you get your figure from, stop calling up them chat up lines.

      2. Chad H.

        Re: The really don't "get it"

        @ AC ; Qantas' no is a 13 number. Roughly equivalent to the UKs 03 numbers. Each call costs Qantas money, and the caller next to nothing, no matter the length.

    3. Annwyn

      Re: The really don't "get it"

      There's no u in Qantas.

      Oh, and you've made a small spelling error there too.

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: The really don't "get it"

        Ah, Qantas. This is the airline who's booking site crashed just as I was confirming the tickets, I received no confirmation email so booked again, only to receive two e-tickets back to back 2 hours later.

        A half hour on the phone explaining the situation and repeatedly and carefully - oh, so carefully - pointing out I wanted to cancel JUST THE ONE. Just the one. Got that? Yes sir, I've got that, just this one, not that one, no problem. Inevitably, 6 weeks before Christmas I was frantically calling airlines after they cancelled both. Thanks, Qantas.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The really don't "get it"

        I was going to say they are badly mis-spelled themselves, but I discovered that is actually because QANTAS is an acronym, and not a normal English word.

        "Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services"

        :P

        1. Mark 65 Silver badge

          Re: The really don't "get it"

          Fixing TV antennas is about all they're good for.

        2. Anonymous John

          Re: The really don't "get it"

          Quaint Antipodean Network Taking Aussies Somewhere.

        3. cortland

          Re: The really don't "get it"

          Reading the article, I wondered if the acronym had two "S's".

      3. electricmonk
        Thumb Up

        Re: no u in Qantas

        7 downvotes? Somebody didn't get the joke...

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The really don't "get it"

        They don't get any degree of subtlety, do they, downvoters. Christ zipping round a velodrome!

        1. jukejoint
          Coat

          Re: The really don't "get it"

          "Christ zipping 'round a velodrome" !

          Thank you! Phrase collection is my specialty, and I applaud the above as an alluring alternative to "Jesus jumped-up Christ" & "Christ on a cracker".

          A little known fact: after Jesus jumped up, he jumped down, turned around, picked a bale of cotton.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Re: The really don't "get it"

      Most businesses don't want to pay for call centre staff so they'll shove you in a queue. I would not be surprised if business / first class bookings and people with a gold / platinum reward card get another number to call which is answered almost immediately. So you wait because the airline is tight and because you are scum cattle in their eyes.

      Be glad that Quantas probably hasn't stooped as low as to charge you for assistance with even a "priority" number that costs more. Ryanair has.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Ryanair

        I'd rather travel as cargo in a slave ship.

      2. markoer

        Re: The really don't "get it"

        That's the case with Lufthansa. Frequent Travellers get a different number to call altogether.

  3. Joe Montana
    FAIL

    Premium rate numbers

    What i find most insulting of all, is when companies use kickback numbers like the 084/087 ones, and then put you on hold...

    I don't mind so much being put on hold via an 0800 or normal 01/02 number, but the idea that a company is benefitting from keeping me on hold for hours is just pure evil and simply shouldn't be allowed.

    Because of this i generally avoid companies which only publish 084/087 numbers, and will look for competitors willing to give out normal numbers.

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      Re: Premium rate numbers

      http://www.saynoto0870.com/ is your friend - look up corresponding 01/02 numbers

      1. Richard 81

        Re: Premium rate numbers

        saynoto0870 is good, but not you can't get alternative numbers for everyone and a fair few are out of date.

    2. Annihilator

      Re: Premium rate numbers

      I agree with you on 087 numbers, but 084 are generally "local" numbers that the mobile companies decide not to treat as such and thus screw you over. 084x aren't kick-back numbers, in fact some cost the company who use them.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Re: Premium rate numbers

        0845 numbers have not been "local" numbers for some time now. There is a small kickback for them which is how the dial-up ISPs funded their service back in the day.

        1. Benchops
          Black Helicopters

          Re: Premium rate numbers

          There are "new" 03* numbers which I've only just started seeing used (depite being announced in 2007)! They're quite good in that they're non-geographical and so allow the load-balancing and routing that most companies will claim is their reason for using 08* but the regulator says they must be treated as geographical numbers in terms of billing (so they'll be counted as credited minutes or free call time etc as if you'd called an 01/2 number). Revenue sharing is also banned. Of course we all trust the regulator to be able to enforce this ;)

          http://media.ofcom.org.uk/2007/02/13/ofcom-introduces-uk-wide-03-numbers/

        2. Annihilator

          Re: Premium rate numbers

          @jonathanb - 0845 are charged as local by BT and as such count as your "free" local calls. The mobile telco's deliberately exclude them from your free minutes, and charge you more than a local call for it.

          Similarly with 0800 calls. I understand why mobile telco's can't really give them for free, but to not loop them into inclusive minutes is crazier still.

          1. MrT

            Re: Premium rate numbers - 0800

            Back in the dim and distant when I was on BT Cellnet, they used to allow 0800 numbers as free if they were dialled as "800" - i.e. drop the first '0'. They even had a recorded message to tell anyone dialling 0800 that they should redial as 800 and use their free contract minutes instead. Shame that doesn't apply these days.

            Currently, some telecos allow selected charity helplines on 0808 numbers as free calls - not sure how they are differentiated but you can find one list here

            1. Benchops
              Happy

              Re: Premium rate numbers - 0800

              On Giffgaff 0800, 0808 & 0500 are all free calls.

              You won't get a connection to the network, but that's a different issue!

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Mobile 0800

              Try 0800 buster - 01243 590 800

              Free 0800 calls from mobile.

              1. Tapeador
                Happy

                Re: Mobile 0800

                Or try www.18185.co.uk - which makes 0845 calls from your mobile cost between 1p and 3p per minute plus a 6p connection charge (uses your mobile's landline-calling allowance to call a landline with the calling card's message on which asks you to dial the number you want, followed by hash. Doesn't work for 0871 and a couple of other things like that though.

        3. MrT

          Re: Premium rate numbers - 0845

          Try calling 0845 from a mobile then - NHS Direct, for example (not uncommon with small children doing crazy things out in the middle of nowhere). Typically all 08 numbers are bundled together at 40p/minute by mobile telecos and are classed as 'out of contract' calls. 25 minutes whilst the staff do their checks and explain any advice can cost a tenner, of which the NHS might see 50p and the rest is trousered by the mobile provider.

          There was a push a few years back to have the special shortened NHS Direct 0845 4647 number replaced by 0345 4647, but it didn't stick.

        4. An0n C0w4rd

          Re: Premium rate numbers

          "0845 numbers have not been "local" numbers for some time now. "

          I believe they're called lowcall numbers, to imply that they are related to local numbers when in fact they're not and never have been.

          1. Vic

            Re: Premium rate numbers

            > to imply that they are related to local numbers when in fact they're not and never have been.

            Well - they were originally. The purpose of an 0845 number was to supply a national number at the same rate as a local call.

            But then the local rate dropped dramatically. And the 0845 tariff didn't.

            Vic.

            [Who has an 0845 numnber on the business cards - because it keeps the cheapskates away. Important customers get the 023 number...]

      2. WaveyDavey

        Re: Premium rate numbers

        Working for a middling Telco providing 084x NGN's I can assure you that if you move enough minutes per month through us, there *will* be a rebate on them. Maybe small, but a few pence times 15,000 minutes per month is still better than a poke in the eye with a pointed stick.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Premium rate numbers

      "What i find most insulting of all, is when companies use kickback numbers like the 084/087 ones, and then put you on hold..."

      First up, most 0845's don't make a penny for the receiving company, and if as we do, we send them to Europe for out of ours coverage, they actually COST us money

      Now as for 09's 0870's & 070's (the biggest con), these can make money. But ask yourself this.

      If Company X does NOT use an expensive line for support, how do they fund these very expensive call centres, you know the ones you call up on Christmas day because iPlayer is running slow.

      1. Reduce cover to 9 - 5 M- F

      2. Charge for the service directly

      3. Charge for the service by bumping up the cost of the items you buy.

      The money has to come from somewhere, it's just a case of where.

      However, all that said, I'd be more concerned about being on hold for 20 minutes, than paying 50p extra and getting dealt with in seconds.

      I personally try to email or use live chat wherever possible.

      Customer service as a whole, the UK is shit at, but I think we are getting a little better.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Premium rate numbers

        "First up, most 0845's don't make a penny for the receiving company, and if as we do, we send them to Europe for out of ours coverage, they actually COST us money [....]"

        Now what rhetorically speaking I would like to know, is what cunt has downvoted the chap who wrote the above. He's presenting the arguments that some companies use for having premium rate customer support numbers.

        You may of course disagree with those reasons, but what fucking good is shooting the messenger going to do to you?

        Sometimes it does make you wonder.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Premium rate numbers

          He's down voted because his "facts" are wrong.

          As another poster pointed out.

          Companies using 0845 numbers with reasonable number of calls DO get kickback from telecos.

          Fact.

          Deal with it.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Premium rate numbers

          OPs Reasoning was flawed by their examples.

          They are quite correct in their determination that 0845 / 0800 numbers are paid for by the service provider (Be it NHS, BBC etc etc) and that a not inconsiderable sum is creamed off the top of various 0870, 0898 and certain 03nn numbers (around 3-5p a minute, from previous experience).

          For national services such as NHS direct, it's actually ludicrous that there's no normal landline number for mobile users or people with bundled minutes. Hell, I'd call that number from my home if I needed to, just to stop the NHS having to pay for my call. That's their decision though and the rationale / target is "provide an inexpensive service for everyone" and they've succeeded, but a poor business decision in some respects and the result could have been better.

          However OP supported their argument with an "idiots who can't operate iplayer" comment, kneecapping their argument in the. Which is unfortunate, as the points were largely accurate. The register isn't read (generally) by people who find iplayer a service that warrants a phone call when there are issues so the point has no place here.

          Software, hardware and service providers / suppliers all use 0844 or 0870 numbers for client support and customer services. Why should I pay to resolve their screw ups ? Broken connectivity, failed number ports, faulty line installations, missing components in a delivery, missing delivery(!) - all these are things I have had to pay to resolve because of the incompetencies and inadequacies of the companies concerned.

          If you assumed a customer service desk of five people at a small firm taking calls and 30 channels of ISDN or VOIP at 80% utilisation that would bring around £430 per day. Certainly enough to pay five staff and cover the line costs. Making fixing screw-ups pretty much nil-cost aside from the office space required and heating etc. needed.

          So, tell me again how it's justifiable for the end user to end up paying the cunts who screwed up to tell them they've screwed up and ask them to fix it ? That's how all the downvoters feel and also, how I feel.

          AC, because it's all the rage these days...

      2. Archivist

        Re: Premium rate numbers

        "If Company X does NOT use an expensive line for support, how do they fund these very expensive call centres,.."

        If company X needs to give that much support it suggests the product is shite, inadequately described, or not fit for purpose.

        I produce some products. They're hardware, but run by software, and they "just work". Perhaps they're not clever enough....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Difference between consumer and business.

    Our SLA's typically range from 20 seconds to 1 mins for Average Speed to Answer.

    If you here the "All agents are busy...." it a good sign we've missed the target.

    However the best is when you phone up at 3am and got the stock "we are currently experiencing a high volume of calls please hold".

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Difference between consumer and business.

      _missed_ the target?

      That's how call centres *meet* their targets. If the rules say "no-one must be on hold for more than 5 minutes", they just configure the systems to send busy tone/message to anyone who calls in when the queues are going over 4m30s. Hey presto, target met.

      BT used to do that for directory enquiries (back in the 192 days). They reckoned that the way it was set up, they would only miss about 5% of the callers. One of the local areas decided to check, and put a counter on the numbers of calls that weren't queued. Turned out that 90% of calls were getting the "f-off" tone...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: you phone at 3am and get "we are experiencing a high volume of calls please hold".

      doesn't that mean the person on duty fell asleep? Try hanging up after a couple minutes and ringing in again - you get answered!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Air Asia

    If you want a real test of patience call AirAsia. The most incompetent bunch of *bleeps* on the planet.

    When you finally get through to one of them they ask you to go through the online help and hang up !

  6. Jim Lewis

    KLM much worse since Air France tie-in, I wonder why?

    Since KLM and Air France 'merged' the customer service line for frequent flyers has begun to automatically cut people off after a certain amount of waiting time.

    I find this incredible, the message 'we value your loyalty...', is eventually followed by 'there's no one here to take your call, goodbye!'.

    I don't like to stereotype too much, but this does seem to be the result of adopting a French attitude to customer service!

    1. Code Monkey

      Re: KLM much worse since Air France tie-in, I wonder why?

      Meanwhile Air France have adopted the Dutch approach to food. Truly a marriage made in hell.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Philip Lewis
          FAIL

          Re: KLM much worse since Air France tie-in, I wonder why?

          I used to have a KLM gold card, so I have a lot of miles behind me on KLM. My evaluation ...

          "KLM, the airline who hates its customers"

          Truly, they are appalling. Some real life examples.

          o The booking system used to crash regularly during booking, with no confirmation. There was no way to know if the booking succeeded. Re-booking meant you ended up with n-tickets. KLM, true to form, simply charged people n-times and REFUSED to cancel tickets, despite the obvious fact that they were the same ticket on the same plane for the same person all booked in sequence. Getting through to a human is a challenging task I might add.

          o KLM offloaded my daughter (aged 13) who was traveling alone via a connection in Paris. Since the offload meant she could not connect, she was offered a free night in Paris. She did not feel comfortable doing that (nor I) so the KLM ground agent offered to refund the fare if we purchased a flight on another airline. No sympathy there either as KLM couldn't even be bothered to answer correspondence on the matter afterwards.

          I have plenty more in the hat where they come from, and needless to say, I fly KLM when I have no reasonable alternatives.

          As I often explain to my boss, "Customer Service" is an oxymoron, and the primary purpose of any customer service organisation is to make you go away. There are a plethora of techniques for this. Like BA, who publish phone numbers that are permanently off the hook, or call centre staff like Air Asia who cannot actually do anything, or messages that last 10 minutes on premium rate lines, or ground handling agents who tell you to call the airline who tell you to call the ground handling agent who tell you .... The airlines are amongst the worst, if not the very worst at this - though if making customers "go away" is the goal as I posit, then they are the most successful.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: KLM much worse since Air France tie-in, I wonder why?

            I regularly fly transatlantic (in economy), and in my view KLM are among the better airlines for the important stuff. The flights are on time, in modern aircraft, with courteous attendants. The food is decent, and the drinks service attentive & free. Amsterdam is also one of the better airports to connect in.

            KLM also has the big advantage over Air France (so far) that their pilots don't screw up when an autopilot gets confused. I have to organize my next trip soon, and am desperately trying to find a reason to justify not using Air France, which must be one of the worst transatlantic carriers around. Tatty old planes, surly staff, crap food, incompetent pilots, and Roissy as a hub. Sadly they are cheap (guess why) which makes them score highly on the company travel site...

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