Pro Tip: Be Sure To Do This Every Time You Have A Long Hold

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Long Phone Hold Times

Long Phone Hold Times – What to Do

I love to procrastinate when booking travel. During my early years of international travel I was often backpacking and thus would just decide on lodging day of and often wasn’t more than a few days ahead when it came to overall planning. While this doesn’t always pay off for me, when it comes to Coronavirus I am actually in a good spot. I had a TON of travel planned, but not much booked.

Still, I know many of you are not in that boat. In our Facebook group, on Twitter and elsewhere I have been seeing frustrating story after story of people trying to cancel upcoming travel. Sometimes travel providers are being amazing and helping as much as possible while other times they simply suck.

Long Holds Can Be Frustrating

Mark shared a story on Twitter this morning about waiting on hold with Frontier for two hours before being disconnected by the agent who placed him on hold to look into his refund.

But it didn’t stop there! He called back, waited on hold again and the SAME thing happened.

Toxic Call Centers Exist

I worked in a call center at the local cable company and quickly discovered that there was a culture of disdain for customers there. Yes, it is a hard job and some employees did care, but the long time grizzled veterans were nothing short of terrible in most situations and it was frustrating to watch.

For example, phone agents would transfer callers with no notice when they seemed difficult. A few times I ended up with someone on my line who had been transferred around 5 or more times, because no one wanted to help. Supervisors were often just as rude, but they found words to demean customers in a way where they could explain it away if anyone listened.

Your Call Is Recorded for “Quality”

Remember the disclaimer that generally comes on the line before the agent picks up about the call being recorded? That is your lifeline and it also keeps you and the agent honest. In most cases calls are recorded and stored for a set period of time. Most companies don’t keep calls indefinitely, but you should be able to get them to pull a call within 30 days a lot of the time.

Use the Recording to Your Advantage

Okay, so how does the recording work to your advantage? The key is putting the agent on the “hook”. Say out loud anything you want specifically covered in the call. Were you on a long hold? Ask them at the beginning of the call to call you back if the line gets disconnected. Also make sure to confirm they have the correct number! Now, it’s all there on the recording!

This goes for many other scenarios as well. If you are having issues with a company and the agent, make sure to let them know you are taking detailed notes of the conversation and are aware everything is recorded. Knowing the recording exists also will help keep you focused, calm and will prevent you from embellishing facts if you have to escalate. And it works! Last year I got a free Disneyland ticket because of how Citi/Connexions treated me. It was only offered after they listened to the calls.

More often than not, being proactive like this does lead to quick, efficient and professional calls, but there is one more huge piece of advice I must mention.

Long Phone Hold Times

Kill Them With Kindness

Being aware of the recording is so important to help and protect yourself, but as always the most important thing is to be kind, respectful and friendly. They are human beings who are getting bombarded with frustrated angry people at record levels right now. If you are the rare friendly person it makes the world of difference. They are doing a difficult job and if you can make it easier in any way then you are going to have more success.

Bottom Line

As you make your way to the phone to cancel upcoming travel plans make sure to bring a lot of patience and kindness, but also be proactive so you get what you are owed and don’t have to run around in circles to get it.

Have you had any frustrating phone experiences when cancelling upcoming travel? Let us know in the comments!

Shawn Coomer
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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  1. Wow…… excellent advice and reminders, Shawn — though sooo much easier said than done. (especially in the face of outrages like what Mark encountered!) Find myself dreading to call CC CSR’s of late for anything, in part in anticipation that the call won’t go well, or I’ll have to escalate several levels before I get a decent human being (like you). I’m talking about U.S. Bank (Radisson cards) in particular — what a miserable, brick wall to deal with…. (i laughed when I got their obligatory covid email from their CEO, saying they’re here for us….. what a crock…… ah, but you’re right, take the high road, kill ’em with kindness, and document / notate everything…. (actually did have a very good experience calling in to Amex last week — truly very positive experience)

    PS, your own background reminded me that one of my first college jobs (ancient history) was in one of those cramped, sad smoke-filled “boiler rooms” in Stroudsburg, PA (for one of those Mob controlled/owned “resorts”…. cold calling for time-shares. “Evil” environment to work in….. When all else fails (and I needed the job then), it finally hit me that we were expected to just lie, lie, lie….. I didn’t last ten days there.) That for far too long jaundiced me against the entire travel “industry.” Now, funny thing, I luv it when I get a “stateside” call center rep, and if you’re listening closely, you can often discern accents and where they are working…. Kroger i-wireless call centers in Ohio and/or Wisconsin are priceless….. but alas, they too are being replaced farmed out by overseas “Manila types” — I’m talking about you IHG.

  2. I actually had a good experience today with Frontier. She told me the flight was cancelled and asked if I wanted to reschedule or get a refund to my credit card , mentioning the last four digits of the card I paid with. Said it would take 7 days for the refund to be processed. I waited 2 hours on hold , then the call itself was maybe 2 minutes.

  3. The first thing I do when calling ANY customer service dept is I write the date & time down. When I’m connected with a CSR, I say, ” I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your name, ” which is written down next to the time and date. Can’t tell you how many times this information has come to the rescue. The next thing I usually say is “how are you? and I need your help please.” I’ve found that this approach usually gets me the assistance I require to resolve whatever it is that I am calling about. If I don’t get satisfaction, I then ask to be transferred to a supervisor, whose name I also write down in my notes. If things are not going in the right direction, I will often say how glad I am that the call is being recorded. A few times the situation has resulted in my having to write a letter and I write damn good ones. I’ve always “won” a dispute when the last straw was writing a letter. Quite a few years ago, I had an issue w/ the my Delta Amex account. I was not awarded the bonus miles that the CSR promised me for upgrading to a higher level card. When I said please wait I’m writing all the details down, he said, ” I’ll even give you my name (which I would have asked for anyway.” Long story short, I did not receive the bonus miles. I called Amex and was told that the rep gave me the wrong information. I replied by saying that I would not have charged such a high dollar amount if I was not going to get those bonus miles. My comment was met with “sorry.” It took a while to find a good Corporate Amex phone number, but I did and aired my complaint to corporate stating the above facts along with the CSR’s name with the date and time that I spoke to him. I was told that they would need to listen to the recording and that they would get back to me. A few days later, they got back to me and said that the CSR mis-spoke and was counseled. It felt like they were trying to make me feel bad for complaining. I said it’s not my fault that your CSR does not how the promotion that he offered to me worked. I made the necessary high dollar amount of charges and all I am asking for is the bonus miles that he offered me. Ta Da, I was awarded those bonus miles. More recently, I am having an issue with The Flight Cents Program on my AA Aviator Mastercard. I’m not earning those extra miles through the program b/c their system has classified my account as NOT being in good standing (I have a nearly perfect credit score w/ all 3 credit bureaus so that is impossible). I can’t tell you how many runarounds I’ve had w/ several CSR’s at Barclays Bank. All of them said that my account is in good standing and finally I of them admitted that they are having a technical issue with the Flight Cents Pgm. That was back in November of last year…. and my account still shows that it’s not in good standing. I keep calling and they keep telling me that they are working on the issue. My Annual Fee was charged at the end of December. Yup, I called again and told them I am not willing to pay it since they haven’t corrected the status of my account and that I am unable to take advantage of their Flight Cents Pgm. I also told them that they are losing business b/c until they correct the issue, I am not using their credit card. I was transferred to the Accounts Retention Dept, spoke to a lovely rep, gave her all the above facts and she waived the Annual Fee. I told her that it would be great to be able to speak to her again if needed, and she gave me the direct the number to the Accounts Retention Department (which I added to my online address book). Several weeks ago, I called that dept again b/c of the same issue. I was told by another rep that they were still working on the issue and for my inconvenience, without even asking, this rep awarded me 5000 bonus miles. I’ve since received a bonus mile offer from them which requires $1000 in charges each month for 3 months. So what did I do? I checked my account online again and it still shows that my acct is not in good standing. Called the Retention Dept again and asked them that if I participate in this offer will I receive those bonus miles? The rep said that I “should” and that she is notating my account that I called in about that offer and that I “should” receive the bonus miles. Yup, you guessed it, I have a record of every date and time and each and every person’s name that I have spoken with. Yes, I hate wasting so much time, but like I’ve told them over and over again, if they don’t fix their system soon, I will have no problem using another one of my reward credit cards that do not give me so many headaches like there’s does. And I specifically mention all the other credit cards that I have. That helps a lot as well. Bottom line, don’t let the credit card companies (or any other company) play games with you. Usually, they’re not the only game in town and they don’t want to lose your business. Just be sure to have your notes as back up for when you need to escalate a problem.

  4. This saved me $375 today during a call with AS to have change fees reversed. A previous agent told me they would not charge me change fees and document in they’re system. She did no do so and the next agent and supervisor refused to honor this until I reminded the that this conversation was recorded. They still tried to weasel out of a refund but I held my ground for 45 minutes and got a full refund.

  5. Be aware that any recording and monitoring could include everything once you have connected to the call center. I worked for a large credit card and consumer loan bank. To keep management on the pulse of the Customer, a certain level of management had to perform a set amount of Customer Listening each month. We would hear the Customer while they were waiting to be connected to the right area. Typically it is just normal background phone noises. Occasionally, you might hear someone telling his buddy he was calling us to dispute a charge that he knew was valid and that he was going to lie and say he hadn’t received the product or service. While you were listening, you’d write down all his information and let the rep who handled the call what was said beforehand. Other calls could be a bit more interesting. We had a unit that did loans for medical procedures of all kinds. My favorite call was the young lady waiting to connect, talking to her friend in a bit of a southern drawl and asking her “What do I say? That I wanna finance my boobs?”

    • This is 100% correct. You are always being recorded even while you are supposedly on hold. Mute your phone while on hold to avoid this.


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