Vonage's Endless Chanting Hold Message Drives You Insane

Andrew is trying to cancel Vonage, but the hold message is driving him insane. After the 6th minute on hold, the smooth jazz went away and now Andrew is being forced to listen to the same chanting “call volume” message over and over again. He’s awash in a sea of his own rage—which will no doubt be directed at whatever CSR finally picks up.

Attention companies: Hold messages are infuriating even when they aren’t repetitive…when they are, they cause rage. Andrew writes:

The experience wasn’t too bad since I left the phone on speaker with the crappy hold music playing in the background and watched some TV and browsed your fine site… until minute number 6. Up until then the annoying recorded voice only interrupted the bliss of soft jazz once every minute to let me know that I was still indeed on hold. After the 6th minute, the message started looping:

“We are experiencing larger than normal call volumes. You are welcome to stay on hold or you may call back at a less busier time. All calls are answered in the order they are received. Thank you for holding!”

Imagine that repeated non-stop over 42 minutes, with each repetition making you question more and more the existence of God and if he could be so merciful as to send a comet screaming right at my home. By minute number 42 on hold, I wanted to kill myself. Instead of a pleasant disconnect, Vonage has now made it my mission to make sure none of my family and friends are customers.

Good job, Vonage! Andrew now wishes you ill.

(Photo: Wikipedia)

Comments

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  1. acambras says:

    Like the French chick’s endless-loop S.O.S. on “Lost.”

    Except not in French.

    And not so much an S.O.S. as an S.O.L.

  2. Xerloq says:

    Seriously, though, what is a *good* way to keep customers on hold? I hate the incessant “Your call is important, please hold,” as much as the next guy, but what about those companies without ANY hold indicator… simply silence?

    I called Verizon once, was put on hold listening to the muzak when a voice broke in “You are being transferred now.” Then silence… for 3 minutes. I hung up and retried thinking I’d been disconnected. Same thing happened. So I waited for 15 minutes of silence.

    At least the incessant voice lets you know that the line is still live… even though it still sucks.

  3. eli_b says:

    Also, is it company policy to make all hold muzak far louder than it is supposed to be and distorting the music? I guess they expect you to set the phone down or something while on hold, but if I have an earpiece in, the distortion is lame at any volume. So its like ‘Duh duh dum CRRRCCSHHHKTTT dum dum, CRSSHKT CHRRRHSKT!’

  4. nachas101 says:

    I’ve been trying to cancel my Vonage for a few weeks now. Problem is that when I think of it, it is the weekend and they are closed.
    My CC number changed and when I didn’t provide them with my new number, they started leaving me voicemails saying that someone was available to assist me 24X7. Everytime I call, they say that cancellations can only be done from 9-7.
    Weird indeed.

  5. markedward says:

    You know what they should do with Hold music? Make it optional. As soon as the person on the other end hits that button, and the Hold music comes up, it shouldn’t just starting playing… it should give you some sort of automated list of options, “If you would like Classic Rock, press 1. If you would like Jazz and Swing, press 2.” And once the person who is waiting makes their choice, they hit the number, and the You-Are-On-Hold system should draw out tracks from out of some databse of music. That way, at least if you’re letting the music play on speaker-phone in the background, it’s music you like and it’s constantly changing. In between each track is when it would say, “You’re still on hold.” And if someone on the other end picks up in the middle of a song, the phone will beep loudly so you know you’re not on hold anymore (in case you forgot).

    … I should sell this idea.

  6. AnnieGetYourFun says:

    I’ve heard so many horror stories about cancelling with Vonage. A friend of mine called to see if she could cancel, and was put on hold for over an hour. So she hung up, called back, and asked if she could open a new account. She was put through to a representative immediately. When she explained that she only wanted cancel, she was back on hold for another hour. Because the connection was so terrible, it took over 40 minutes to cancel the account once she finally did get a CSR on the line.

  7. Avery says:

    @nachas101

    You should probably cancel soon or they’ll send you to collections, a hellhole whence you might never escape.

  8. kc-guy says:

    Kansas State Unemployment doesn’t have hold music. They tell you that there are already people waiting and hangs up. Eight times so far.

  9. polenta3 says:

    This exactly what happened to me today! I was very upset. I was on hold over 40 minutes.

  10. rlee says:

    On the other hand, what drives me nuts is such recordings popping up periodically to interrupt the music. You’re listening with half an ear, waiting for the human, and you hear … a voice! Nope, false alarm. Over and over…

  11. formergr says:

    “less busier”??

    I agree with RLEE, the best is just to have music, whether it’s crappy smooth jazz or Muzak, and don’t interrupt it with the voice every minute! As long as music keeps playing, I understand I’m still on hold, so no need to keep reminding me.

  12. synergy says:

    What I like best are the companies who give you an approximate wait time. Even if that wait time is 20+ minutes, it makes me feel better to know how many eternities I’ll have to wait. :-p

  13. FLConsumer says:

    @formergr: This depends… I had the MISfortune of calling Comcast Workplace (their commercial internet division) technical support. It was about 10:30pm on a weekday night, my connection was dropping packets left & right. Tier 1 couldn’t help me, escalated to tier 2 and was waiting on hold for them. By this time it was ~11:15pm… I just left it on speakerphone and continued working. Around 11:45p, I called up Comcast tech support on another line, leaving the other call on speakerphone. The Tier 1 tech assured me that Tier 2 was still there and would be with me shortly. He did mention that they closed at midnight, but that they would clear all of their call queues first.

    Well, midnight came & went… at 12:15am I called up Comcast again on the other line… at that time, the rep said that Tier 2 had gone home. He suggested that I try calling back when they were open again. I was less than pleased. So… I decided that I might as well stay on hold all night long. It’s their dime (800#) and I’d be the first call in the queue! So that’s what I did. Parked the call on the PBX, went home, retrieved the call from the PBX on my home extension, went to bed. Woke up the next morning & waited for Comcast to pick up. Sure enough, I was the first call of the day. The rep was almost horrified that I’d been left on hold all night long.

    At the end of it all, we did end up back-billing Comcrap for that call, my time (claiming I was up the whole time) and a few other things. Minus that call, it took 16 hrs of my time on the phone with them to get our issue finally resolved. Comcast actually didn’t blink an eye at our bill and promptly credited our account.

  14. Havok154 says:

    @Xerloq:
    I love those. I get transfered, it rings once then absolutely nothing. I look at the phone like it’s going to say “don’t worry, you’re still connected” then i spend the next 5 minutes debating whether I’m actually connected to anything. The best is when it finally goes to that buzzing sound that means you’re disconnected. Especially when it took 15 minutes to get that far and another 5 of me wondering what the hell is going on.

  15. Michael says:

    @markedward: Oh please sell that idea. PLEASE.

  16. RebekahSue says:

    I wish I read Consumerist when I was trying to cancel my AOL account. (After the third time they offered me free months to stay, they set me to Hourly. I walked away from my computer while oline, and got a $400 bill…) After the second hour on hold (like Andrew, I put it on Speaker… I transcribed a cassette’s worth of dictation),. i got… disconnected. I called back… after 45 minutes on hold, and my third or fourth email to ask someone to get my damned call!, I got a customer service rep who sounded like that Collections agent a few posts back!

    We had to have the credit card company intervene and refuse to pay their bills, and filed a complaint with the BBB. No apology, but after two $25 credits, they cleared the charge.

    I have sympathy for anyone stuck on hold while waiting for customer “service.”

  17. Eilonwynn says:

    @markedward: good luck with selling it – Telus in canada was using it 3-5 years ago. As well, one i wish more companies would adopt, if you’re on hold for more than 5 minutes, they’ll credit your account for 5 minutes.

  18. juri squared says:

    Aw crap. I have to call and cancel Vonage’s crap service today, and now I am not looking forward to it.

  19. juri squared says:

    Update on my lovely Vonage experience: I managed to get a hold of a human relatively – nay, suspiciously – quickly. I had trouble understanding the guy and had to have him repeat what he was saying. He was very polite, though.

    Too bad what he was saying was “Our systems are down, so we can’t help you. Please call back later.”

    JOY.

  20. cousin.it.addams says:

    Its interesting to hear that Andrew got infuriated after only 6 minutes on the phone. I for one thought that American’s loved the idea of queue’s.
    Now imagine the years of waiting an alien has to put up with before getting his green card (which is not assured either). Most simply shrug it off and hope for the best.
    My advice to people like Andrew is:
    Be patient and persistent and things will go your way.

  21. cousin.it.addams says:

    Its interesting to hear that Andrew got infuriated after only 6 minutes on the phone. I for one thought that American’s loved the idea of queue’s.
    Now imagine the years of waiting an alien has to put up with before getting his green card (which is not assured either).
    My advice to people like Andrew is:
    Be patient and persistent and things will go your way.

  22. FLConsumer says:

    Another method, at least if you’re just looking to cancel or make changes to your account, is to send your request via certified, return-receipt USPS mail. I keep a stack of the forms here and it takes about a full minute for me to type a letter, throw it in an envelope, run it through the postage meter and send it on its way. No waiting, no reps trying to blow smoke, just results. It may cost $5.21 to send that letter…but my time is worth more than that, especially when dealing with some of the more difficult companies.

  23. mobbo says:

    @ COUSIN.IT.ADDAMS

    I didn’t get infuriated after 6 minutes. The 6 minute mark was when the voice started looping. It was about minute 25 (aka… the 500th repetition of the high-pitched-annoying-lady-voiced message) that I got pissed. That and the fact that calling that line was the ONLY way to cancel and it takes an entire hour of my day to do so, and an extremely unpleasant one at that.

    I would feel sympathy for those immigrants if the entire time they were waiting they were forced to listen to a looping message.

    I am a very patient person. But when the only option is to be tortured and it is very clear Vonage is doing it on purpose to make me want to hang up and NOT cancel… that warrants some hatred.

  24. zenparadox2 says:

    After having been on hold for a half hour, I claimed to have moved to a very rural area and while the rep first tried to tell me that Vonage works on dial-up (HAHAHAHA), she switched gears and told me the truth, that it required broadband. She “understood my reason for cancellation” and her only real tactic was to try to sign up my family and friends. She was incredulous that I didn’t have any family or friends who would want to save money, so I told her, “Look, I understand you have a job to do, but all I want to do is cancel.”

    It went smoothly after that. No cancellation fee (I’ve been a customer since 2004), and my account was disconnected. If they keep charging me, well, I used to work for a law firm and let’s just say I have friends. :)