Helpdesk hell: 13 steps to raising your blood pressure

Over the last few days, I have spent nearly 3 hours of my life on the phone to a customer helpline. As time slowly slipped away and I waited, listening to the same piece of Jazz inspired muzak played on a loop, I was repeatedly informed that if I wanted to return my unwanted product, I needed to continue to hold to get my reference number. So I had no option but to wait. Apparently my call is important to them though.

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Here’s my experience of call centre phonecalls – please read carefully as the options on this menu have recently been changed (so no, you can’t just press 0 and hope to be put through to an operator):

  1. ‘Please listen to the following options:’ here you are given up to 8 options, depending on your need, priority and inside leg measurement.
  2. Listen to all 8 options just to make sure you’re choosing the right one and then forget which was the most appropriate.
  3. Hang up and start again.
  4. Choose an option – any option will do, they all go through to the same team anyway. There is one exception: ‘if you are thinking of leaving us please press 8’. This will get their attention – but use it wisely. I once threatened to leave a service if I didn’t get my way and, too proud to back down, had to follow through.
  5. ‘Please hold, your call is important to us.’ Plinky plonky muzak. ‘We’re experiencing unusual call levels at the moment, you may wish to call us back later.’ That won’t make any difference. Continue to hold.
  6. Continue to hold. Age considerably. Feel a tightness in your throat and your blood pressure rising. Try to breathe deeply and go to your special place.
  7. Think of sarcastic opening lines.
  8. Your call is eventually connected and answered by an annoyingly chirpy operator who asks you to confirm your name, address, birthday, the number plate of your first car and the middle name of your grade 1 piano teacher.
  9. Despite the fact that you have just given your full name, the operator mispronounces your name, not once, not twice, but at the beginning of every sentence.
  10. State the purpose of your call.
  11. The operator puts you on hold to ask his supervisor for the answer to your query.
  12. You are disconnected.
  13. Return to stage 1.

I didn’t even get past stage 7 this week and after 3 attempts and nearly 3 hours, I just gave up, deciding it was better to hold onto my unwanted product AND my sanity.

I have emailed the helpdesk stating my intense displeasure. I have an Aunt who hilariously invoices companies for her wasted time, stating that her hourly rate is £x and demanding to be reimbursed for the time she’s spent on hold. She occasionally gets a reply, and a cheque.

Does this all sound horribly familiar? Please leave your comments below.


I have a very specific anger management issue when it comes to call centres – they make me MAD. This is my helpdesk hell.