However, there is one type of music which I loathe and that is HOLD music. You know, the music you get played whilst waiting on a call centre operator to answer. Its crimes are numerous: repetative; often badly made; constantly interupted by some voice telling you you are in a queue (AS IF YOU DIDN'T KNOW!) and worst of all, tinnier than the Tin Woodsman's toenail clippings.
Sometimes though it's not so bad; some call centres have put a little thought into it, realising that the hell that is waiting can be alieviated somewhat.
So whilst on the phone today, I decided to have the inaugural
Official Wrong Island Call Centre Hold Music Championships™.
Call centres around the country, NAY...THE GLOBE, will be be selected and audited on the following criteria:
1. Style of Music and relevance to the type of business
2. Repetativity (I don't know if that's actually a word.)
3. Time between announcements
4. Relevance of announcements
5. Boredom factor
The scores will be totted up (in my head) and an overall score will be posted out of 12.
The winner will be awarded the no doubt soon-to-be sought after title of Wrong Island Best Call Centre Hold Music Champion 2011.
May the least annoying cunts win!
First up, from East Kilbride in Scotland it's
Centre One Tax Office (part of HMRC)!
So the hold music here is pretty dreadful. Three different loops being switched between every 20 seconds or so. It's not unlike listening to a 19 year old DJ with ADHD and a newly torrented copy of Traktor playing three loops from The Greatest Hits of General MIDI.
One loop is a picked guitar thing, another sounds like a duck getting squashed and the other so stultifyingly dull that I've forgotten what it sounds like. No matter though because it'll be back on in 40 second or so. Joy unbridled.
Mind you, saying as some people will be ringing up to find out that they have a tax refund due, the Government probably commissioned someone to make the music as brain melting as possible so that you don't hold on long enough to actually get through. God forbit anyone ringing up to find they've not paid enough though. Mind you, would the Taxman care? Of course not, the utter bastard.
Overall rating: This is pretty bad and I can't imagine anyone having a hold 'experience' worse. The music might well be designed to put you off so I suppose it should get points for relevancy but otherwise, there's nothing redeeming about this except the lure of a tax refund so I'm giving them 3 out of 12
Recommended replacement music: Taxman by The Beatles or perhaps Money by Pink Floyd
Our next contestant hails from the lovely city of Glasgow....give a warm welcome to:
Direct Line Insurance
First impressions are good. The initial music sounds like Santo & Johnny. Nice and relaxing and doesn't sound so bad being tinny.
After getting the call answered and asking the operative on the line a few questions that I know I'll be put on hold for, I am greeted with the strains of 'Love and Marriage', best known to me and most people my age as the theme tune to Married With Children. I melt away into nostalgic daydreams of Peggy Bundy tossing my salad, quite happy to hold on. Next up is They Can't Take That Away From Me as sung by Ol' Blue Eyes himself.
This choice of big band classics works very well as hold music; inoffensive, friendly, jocular. All things one wants to hear before a nasal Scotsman tells you how much it'd be to insure a 25 year old female learner driver for 3 months.
In addition to the excellent music choice, the announcements are different ever time and often informative.
Why no, I didn't know that if an uninsured driver hits me that Direct Line will cover the excess. And my No-Claims won't be affected? Why, I'm really learning here.
Overall rating: these guys have put a bit of thought into the hold reel here. With the possible exception of the music not really having anything to do with cars or insurance, they have really hit it on the head.
10 out of 12
Recommended replacement music: Warm Leatherette by The Normal, Baby You Can Drive My Car, something by INXS, High Risk Insurance by Ramones, Take Good Care Of My Baby by Bobby Vee
Contestant number three, representing the North East of England, it's mobile telephone company
Oh dear...it takes forever to actually get to some music here. Far too many button presses and questions. Don't they realise there's a Championship at stake here?!
Finally, when I get through, the music is pretty bad. Tinny as fuck pop music from the last five years. Eek.
Thankfully and, if I'm honest, unusually for Orange the call is answered quickly and I am soon greeted with the lovely voice of a Geordie. Having a call centre in the N.E. of England is a pretty good move as that soft, lilting accent is so soothing that the operative could tell you that it turns out that your phone actually is giving you brain cancer and you'd still be pretty cool about it.
They should really replace the music they have got with one of the middle aged women that seem to make up 90% of the staff telling a nice story. Though your brain might get confused and think it's a bed-time story and you might miss the call due to having a nice nap. They should definitely replace the 'sexy' voiced southerner that does the voice of the answerphone on Orange. She gets on my tits.
Overall rating: The music is pish but the operatives are so nice, i'm going to give them an extra point so they get 8.
Recommended Replacement Music: Eberhard Schoener Feat. Sting - Why Don't You Answer
Not only for the Sting-north East connection but also because every other time I've rang orange, it's taken the best part of half an hour to get through.
The first heat is over and we have some strong contenders here. Feel free to email in with any suggestions for companies I should be checking out.