"Don't waste time" indeed. When you dial for technical support, you may not even get through. The telephone has created, along with many forms of supposed time-saving, one of the most peculiar and misunderstood forms of time wastage. The software industry alone leaves Americans waiting on hold for an estimated three billion minutes a year. Then there are the computer-hardware manufacturers, the airlines, the utility companies, the telephone companies themselves, and an incalculable number of government agencies. Like Dante's hell, the state of being On Hold has different levels. And before you get on hold, you must get past the busy signal.

  • Badsoftware.com is not only one of the great domain names; it's also a fine source of information on the state of the art in this fine industry--good and bad. It has statistics on time spent in telephone hell.
  • Psychologists--British psychologists at that--observed subjects put on hold in varying circumstances and for varying lengths of time. Their findings.
  • So it's come to this: power demon speed dialer.