How To Make Being Put On Hold Even More Annoying: Pipe In Some Ads

from the why-didn't-somebody-think-of-this-before dept

The success of advertising-driven business models on the internet continues to foster a belief among some people that everything can be made better with ads, like the AT&T exec that thought it might be a good idea to put ads in people's cell phone ringtones. Now, a company hopes to make a frustration with which we're all familiar -- being put on hold by a business -- just a little more annoying by replacing hold music with targeted ads (via MocoNews). So while you wait for that tech-support person to pick up, or you get shuffled around from department to department, you can be treated to context-sensitive advertising. The mind boggles at the possibilities: ads for bookkeeping services when you call to straighten out a billing error, or for anger management classes when you get fed up. The company says that callers would have to opt in to hear the ads when they're on hold (and it's hard to imagine many people would), but they could also be played without any caller approval when they call free services like directory assistance. Up next: ad-supported bankruptcy filings...


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    AAA, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 1:49am

    Not News

    Where's the news here? Companies have doing things like this for a many years. I have been annoyed more than once after being placed hold while trying to resolve a problem with a company only to be bombarded with ads while on hold.

    Carlo, just because some company plants a story in an industry trade rag claiming that its product is new doesn't mean that it necessarily is. Research.

     

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  2.  
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    Mike (profile), Jun 26th, 2007 @ 1:58am

    Re: Not News

    Where's the news here? Companies have doing things like this for a many years. I have been annoyed more than once after being placed hold while trying to resolve a problem with a company only to be bombarded with ads while on hold.

    Read the post again. He's not saying that ads are new, but that *specially targeted* ads are what's new, based on the specific context of the situation and the caller.

    Also, most of the ads that you probably hear are for the business you're calling. That's pretty standard -- but this is for totally unrelated ads.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 2:01am

    Actually, this may not be so bad. Hear me out: You can either pay for support and not have the ads on the phone (like, a special number and support pin or something) OR get free support that is paid for by listening to some ads while you're waiting. Although the possibility for corruption is high, I wonder if this could lead to cheaper domestic support calls...

     

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  4.  
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    MadJo (profile), Jun 26th, 2007 @ 2:20am

    Re:

    Well, the example of anger management courses would not go down well with me. It would be my reason of leaving the company, no matter what kind of service they offered.

    Most times, when I call, I have a problem with something (more often than not, their fault), and I don't need to be belittled by a company, because they can't get their act together. :)

     

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  5.  
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    Nertz to that, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 3:05am

    Could be funny

    Can you imagine calling some coporolith tech support line like say HP for example; with a problem with your crappy HP laptop that breaks down every day that has a vowel in its name.. Only to be treated to an ad to buy another crappy HP laptop?

    The mind boggles at the hilarity.

     

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  6.  
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    GoblinJuice, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 3:54am

    Not news.

    Like #1 said, this isn't news.... It's annoying, but I can see the reason behind it (captive audience ;-)).

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Witty Nickname, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 4:55am

    Not too bad

    Next time I call Comcast maybe I can hear an ad for Direct TV. This is the time I would like to switch....

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Dosquatch, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 5:21am

    Re: Not News

    Also, most of the ads that you probably hear are for the business you're calling. That's pretty standard -- but this is for totally unrelated ads.

    Of course. Those are the ads the company you're calling are most interested in you hearing. They have control over those, and this has been going on for a long time.

    A third-party controlled targeted context ad service is likely to give you results like, when you call Visa, you start hearing ads telling of the benefits of Discover or Mastercard (oblig: Priceless!) Or, worse yet, the context service gets to look at your purchase history and start feeding ads for Wal*Mart, Amazon, and Barb's Secks Shoppe.

    There are lots of ways this could be a very bad idea.

     

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  9.  
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    BTR1701, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 5:34am

    Ads

    As others have said, this is hardly news. Earthlink's hold "music" is nothing but ads for all their various services and plans. Same with Cox Communications.

    And I strongly suspect that even though the recording comes on and says "All operators are busy assisting other customers right now..." the reality is that the system is programmed to put you on hold for a set period of time regardless of whether the operators are really busy or not-- just so they can blast a few ads at you while they have you captive.

     

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  10.  
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    CrazyBeardedMan, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 5:39am

    Tech call

    Technician: Thank you for calling Toshiba Technical support, my name is Robbi, how can I help you?

    Customer: Yeah, I am having loads of problems. I can't get connected to the internet, IE keeps crashing, I keep getting a blue screen with lots of useless info and then my machine reboots.

    Tech: Let me put you on hold while I investigate this, please.

    Targeted Ad: OS bloat and instability gotchya down? Sick of paying half your life's earnings for upgrades? [Favorite Linux Distro here] is what you have been looking for, etc, etc.

    Tech: Hello sir, thank you for waiting. Could you please tell me again your situation?

    Cust: Never mind, I just figured out the problem.

    Tech: Glad I could be of service. Have a nice day.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 5:49am

    Old habits die hard...

    So these companies are still trying to find ways find ways to force people to listen to ads. Damn shame they won't change with the times.

     

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  12.  
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    GlassTiger, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 6:57am

    Ads = EVIL!

    I don't know about the rest of you but I'm getting sick and tired of getting blasted with ads. It seems that no matter what you do you can't get away from it. You make a support call you get blasted with ads. You turn on the TV you get blasted with ads. The sad part is we are paying a pretty penny for those ads. For example, I work for an IT company and have to make support calls quite frequently for replacement parts or whatever and we pay 30 -50,000$ a year for a support contract and still I get blasted with ads. You pay around 50 -60$ a month for cable or satellite TV and most of the channels have more commercial time then actual programming. It's sick. Also I pay 50$ for Xbox Live and as soon as you sign in there is an ad for whatever Microsoft wants to sell that day. As long as we the consumers continue to tolerate this type of behavior, the more ads these companies will force feed you. The next time you have to make a support call for something, check the company’s website first, you might be able to get what you need right from the support page. Sure there might be some ads but at least they won’t be blasted in your ear. At this point I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that companies put subliminal messages in their ads as well.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    freak3dot, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 7:12am

    No Peace

    I am so tired of ads everywhere I turn. They are on TV, Radio, Billboards, in text messages, on the internet, in my e-mail, on hold, in my mailbox.

    I activally fight ads. I call the ones I get in the snail mail and tell them to remove me from their list. I figure if I waste some of there time, it will cost them. And if companies put more ads on hold, I'm sure I'll comment about it.

    On a side note, one time I heard the song "I can't get no satisfaction" while on hold with Sprint. So True!

    If companies were smart, or cared about their employee's they would use psycology and play soothing music to calm the upset people on hold rather than making them more upset with ads.

    freak3dot

     

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  14.  
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    TheDock22, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 7:22am

    Not a bad idea...

    Personally I think companies should have advertising when you are waiting on the phone (crappy music doesn't do it for me). I think they should be forced to play ads from competing business though.

    Then just watch those wait times drop in half.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    bjupton, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 8:56am

    911 ads

    A few years ago I needed to call 911 from my cell phone. It routed me to the main California dispatch. I spoke to an operator, who then transfered me to the Sacramento dispatch.

    While I was on hold during this transfer, I was greeted with ads telling me about exciting and lucrative opportunities with the California Highway Patrol.

    I really wish this were a joke...

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    AAA, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Not News

    Read the post again. He's not saying that ads are new, but that *specially targeted* ads are what's new, based on the specific context of the situation and the caller.
    Ads promoting, for example, computers when you call for a computer support line seem pretty targeted to me.

    Also, most of the ads that you probably hear are for the business you're calling. That's pretty standard -- but this is for totally unrelated ads.
    How are they targeted if they're "totally unrelated" to the situation? If you mean that they're related to the situation but "totally unrelated" to the company does that mean that they are promoting a competitor's product instead? I can't imagine any companies going along with something like that.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Overcast, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 9:56am

    That's actually a BAD idea, lol

    The longer I'm on hold, the more annoyed I get - usually. I don't take to 'suggestion' well when I'm annoyed like that - I am usually more rebellious.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    JRFezziwig, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 1:45pm

    You think this is over the top?

    The other day I pulled into a parking stall at the local mall and found ads printed on the white parking-stall stripes. You can't even use a restroom any more without being bombarded by ads over the urinals.

    I feel like just closing my eyes to shut it all out ... but then someone would find a way to flash ads onto the insides of my eyelids ...

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    AllOver, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 1:51pm

    "Actually, this may not be so bad. Hear me out: You can either pay for support and not have the ads on the phone (like, a special number and support pin or something) OR get free support that is paid for by listening to some ads while you're waiting. Although the possibility for corruption is high, I wonder if this could lead to cheaper domestic support calls..."

    You really think corporations are going to stop including tech support in the price of your gadgets? Hahahahaahaaaaaaaa. Very funny, ads while you are on hold will just be one more revenue stream for them.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    AllOver, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 1:57pm

    While I'm here, quit doing business with these companies. That's exactly what I do.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    John, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 3:12pm

    Double-dipping

    When did companies learn that "double-dipping" was an acceptable way to make money? These companies already make money from the sale of their products and now they want more money from advertisers who are willing to buy ads?
    Some examples:

    "Enhanced cable" stations:
    Stations like Discovery, A&E, Sci-Fi Channel, MTV, etc charge a fee to cable providers (Time Warner, Comcast) who then pass the charge onto the customer. So, viewers are paying to see these channels.
    Yet all of these channels run just as many commercials as the "free" networks (NBC, CBS, ABC).
    So, the stations are getting money from the subscriber fees AND from advertisers.

    Movie theaters:
    Once, it was good enough for theaters to only take in money from the customers' tickets and concessions. Now, many (if not all) movie theaters run commercials paid for by advertisers.
    Many times, these commercials are the exact same commercials that are shown on network TV.

    So now companies want to get money from advertisers so commercials can be played to customers who are on hold?

    I suppose the next way to make money is to charge customers $4.99 a minute for the priviledge of being put on hold and listening to these ads! Oops, I shouldn't have given these companies any ideas.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 26th, 2007 @ 5:07pm

    next step is shorter hold time if you opt in to listen to those adds.

    or what would actually happen staying on hold for ever if u don't opt in for adds

     

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