JCPenney Was Fastest To Answer Customer Calls On Black Friday Weekend; Costco Slowest

With Black Friday weekend being the busiest shopping spurt of the year, it’s also the time when customers call up retailers to complain or ask questions. But a new survey of 25 top retailers shows that consumers waited anywhere from 22 seconds to 12 minutes just to speak to customer service.

The survey, conducted by the folks at STELLAService, looked at the 35 largest online retailers — most of which are websites for major bricks-and-mortar stores — to determine how these companies performed at responding to phone and online chat requests.

So between Black Friday through Cyber Monday, researchers made repeated attempts to contact each retailer and measured the time required to make contact with a human.

The average wait time to speak to a phone rep was 4:27. In the front of the pack was JCPenney, where the average wait time was only :22, a 95% improvement over the store’s results from the 2011 survey.

Joining JCP in the sub-1:00 club were Office Max (:30) and Amazon (:59). Last year’s fastest, Overstock.com, dropped all the way down to 17th place with a worse-than-average wait time of 4:49.

Bringing up the rear of the pack was Costco, which didn’t make too big a Black Friday push in-store, but did offer online deals over the weekend. The warehouse club made callers wait an average of 12:34. Other retailers breaking the 10-minute mark were TigerDirect (12:14) and Walmart (11:20).

As for live chat, the numbers provide a murkier picture, as only 6 of the 25 retailers’ websites responded to 100% of requests, making the pool of usable data significantly smaller. Regardless, the average wait time for the six retailers was only 1:39, with Overstock leading the ranks (:24) and Newegg (3:03) bringing up the back of the pack.

We think it would be interesting to see the wait times for the week after Black Friday weekend, when people find their purchases are broken or when they begin wondering why items haven’t shipped or are being canceled.

Average call wait times for top 25 Internet retailers

1. JCPenney 00:22

2. Office Max 00:30

3. Amazon 00:59

4. Target 01:05

5. Gap 01:33

6. Zappos 02:07

7. Staples 02:09

8. Victoria’s Secret 02:21

9. Williams-Sonoma 02:28

10. Sears 03:00

11. LLBean 03:02

12. Newegg 03:44

13. QVC 03:57

14. Macy’s 04:09

15. Best Buy 04:22

16. Office Depot 04:33

17. Overstock.com 04:49

18. Sony 04:59

19. Toys R Us 05:15

20. HP 05:28

21. HSN 05:46

22. Dell 08:49

23. Walmart 11:20

24. TigerDirect 12:14

25. Costco 12:34

Average live chat wait times for retailers that replied to 100% of interactions:
1. Overstock.com 0:24

2. LLBean.com 0:44

3. HSN.com 1:03

4. Dell.com 1:25

5. OfficeDepot.com 1:51

6. Newegg.com 3:03