Cost of waiting: $38 billion
Waiting for the cable guy and other in-home appointments and deliveries costs Americans an average of $250 in lost wages, poll says.
Waiting for the cable guy and other in-home services cost American workers almost $38 billion in the past year, according to a new study.
That's the cost of two full workdays for every U.S. employee -- not just the ones who stayed home from work to wait on a service call, TOA Technologies CEO Yuval Brisker said in a statement. TOA Technologies sponsored the study.
Fifthy-eight percent of respondents to the 2011 "Cost of Waiting" study said they had waited at home for delivery, service or repair people three times in the past year, with an average wait time of 4.5 hours. More than 25% said waiting resulted in lost wages, and 50% said it cost them a sick day or vacation day.
Taking a half day off work to wait for a furniture delivery or appliance repair appointment is bad enough, but survey respondents reported that the wait times were a full 2.5 hours longer than they expected.
And what do people do while they wait? They complain, of course. As Multichannel News reports: "The longer a technician is late, the more likely it becomes that customers will start griping online: After waiting for one hour, almost half of respondents (49%) said they would have posted a complaint on a social media."
In sponsoring the 2011 Cost of Waiting study, TOA Technologies has created ammunition for such complaints -- and a warning for companies who neglect customer service. TOA, which develops software for mobile workforce management and customer appointment scheduling, concluded that -- based on estimates from survey respondents -- each lost customer cost businesses $330 annually. Post continues below.
The top reason respondents gave for companies not showing up on time was a perceived lack of consideration for the customer's time (29%). Though 21% of people surveyed said the length of time required for service is unpredictable, 18% said the companies took advantage of knowing the customer would wait.
The survey also found that most customers (71%) blame the company, rather than the service person, for keeping them waiting in 2011 -- up from 55% in 2010. And 27% switched to a competitor as a result, according to the poll of more than 1,000 adults conducted by IBOPE Zogby International for TOA Technologies.
The study results didn't mention whether any of the respondents worked in home offices or if any were unemployed. While someone working at home or job-hunting might not lose wages waiting for the doorbell to ring, their numbers would certainly increase the overall dissatisfaction rate. No one likes being kept waiting, and it's tough to concentrate when you anticipate being interrupted at any moment.
I can't complain too much about the cable guy. The last time we had someone from Comcast come to the house, we were able to make a weekend appointment, and when they were running ahead of schedule that day, the techs called ahead to ask if they could show up early. (Perhaps service improved after the cable company was named The Consumerist's Worst Company in America for 2010.)
Online comments to news articles about the poll indicates my experience is likely atypical, however. Readers mostly related their customer-service horror stories, often bringing up wait times in other places, such as doctors' offices and airports.
"What ticks me off is that companies could do a better job. Cable companies know how long it takes to hook up cable in an apartment or house, especial since most are already wired, and they know how to map out routes to pin down the installation time," reader Joshua Morgan said on CNN Money.
To which another reader responded: "I don't like waiting, but the fact is that estimating such things is an art, not a science and is based on a variety of factors."
"Rabbit Ears are making a comeback … go buy a pair and curse at the satellites when your station won't come in. But it comes with no monthly bill," a Daily Finance reader offered.
What has been your experience? Have you been kept waiting in the past year? And do you still do business with that company?
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