September 9, 2005 22:37 | Culture / Technology

Modernity | Hold -> Musak -> Static

As mentioned, I spent a "good" amount of time on the phone with various customer support lines over the last 2-3 weeks. This means alot of time on hold.

In the evolution of phone-based services, "hold" was of course an entirely necessary development. As despicable as it is, it's just a reality. To assuage the wait time, the brilliant idea of piping in muzak was introduced, and thus created an entire sub-industry for musicians. (In interview, Sting was once asked "at which moment in your career did you realize you had 'made it'?", to which he answered-paraphrased-"the day I stepped into an elevator and heard 'Roxanne' in soft tones.")

Now, a development behind-the-scenes, on the technology level, has truly dropped the experience to lower-wrung of hell conditions. Yes, IP-based telephony is now used in all but the most backwards call-centers (and really, do you want to deal with a company that can't afford to save money?), which has created two new realities: scratch-breakbeat-electronic-soft-jazz for the adult-contemporary-urban listener on hold, and IP static.

Brccccchhh dooot dooo dooo dooooo brrrchchhhhhhh doot doot brchhhhhhhh

"Your call is important to us. All our representatives are busy with other callers. Please remain on the line. Did you know you can access all our self-help support features at double you double you double you dot we love widgets dot com?"

Brccchhhhhhhh ...

I wonder how long the modern urbanite could go on without having to call Customer Care.


How long can you go without calling 'customer care' lines?

Well, right now it's about three years for me. I resolutely refuse to call these people. Hung-up on, someone saying they'll call back and they don't, someone saying they'll 'do' something and then not, 'system is down' despite having been on hold for 30 mins etc etc.

No. These days if I have to deal with a company I write. That way, someone who actually works *for* the company you're paying has to deal with it - rather than some couldn't-care-less telephone worker somewhere where you'll never locate them ever again...

BT (British Telecom) did this to me. It's a long story, but if they were the last telecoms company in the world I would resort to smoke signals. Believe it or not, it's actually making me anxious writing about them here!

Erch, yeah exactly. Sounds like a certain hosting co. exactly... :p
I do my best to stay away, but I really had no choice what with sites down and a defective new monitor. As far as Dell is concerned, once you get through the mindless labyrinth of numbers, the people on the other end actually get shit done.
Me who hates telephone calls... ;)