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31 October 2022

'Please hold, caller' – Consumer NZ investigates call wait times

Consumer NZ has taken one for the team and investigated which major New Zealand companies keep their customers waiting the longest for support via their contact centres. Wait times varied from a short and sweet 15 seconds to heading on for an hour.

The analysis focused on 21 companies from five sectors which New Zealanders regularly need to connect with for customer support. These included internet and telco providers, subscription services, banks and payment services, postal services, and travel and transport.

All calls were made on a weekday between 9am and 3pm.

Call waiting times

When it came to time spent on hold, Hello Fresh was the speediest responder, with a swift 15-second wait time. Meanwhile, 2degrees fared the worst with a wait time of 54 minutes and 50 seconds. The average wait time was about 12 minutes.

“Many of us get incredibly frustrated stuck in on-hold hell,” said Consumer’s head of content, Caitlin Cherry.

“Some companies had incredibly speedy response times, whereas others definitely need to up their customer service game.

“Uber’s service was the worst we encountered. When we eventually found and dialled the contact number for Uber, we were promptly hung up on by an automated inbox. It turns out the customer call centre is only available to ‘Diamond Riders’. Frankly, for a business providing a service in New Zealand, it is unacceptable to treat some customers as second-class citizens.”

Call me maybe?

As well as assessing call wait times, Consumer also checked how difficult it was to find a company’s customer service number on Google. The watchdog documented how many website clicks were needed to find each company’s phone number.

“It was surprisingly hard to find a customer service number for many businesses,” Cherry said.

“Of the 21 companies we investigated, only 11 contact numbers could be found quickly and easily.

“Uber came bottom of the pack again. It took over 14 minutes and three searches of its website to find a contact number for Uber.”

Only one company, Norton Security, didn’t have a phone number listed online. Instead, customers must submit a request for a call back from Norton Security’s support team.

“Although Hello Fresh had the fastest call response time, its number was hard to find – taking two minutes which included 14 clicks on its website and an interaction with a chatbot,” Cherry said.

Honourable mentions

Netflix and Disney+ kept Consumer on hold for one and five minutes respectively, however they both offered themed hold music, making the wait more entertaining.

BNZ had a more excruciating wait time of just over 25 minutes, but the caller had the option of listening to ‘Kiwi’ or ‘easy listening’ music while on hold.

“When you’re going to be waiting for an indefinite period of time, we appreciated having a say in the soundtrack.”

Graph of best and worst call wait times.