New law limits call center waiting

The regulations apply to all telcos, gas, water and electricity utilities, and providers of urgent medical services.

A month ago, regulations restricting waiting times at call centers came into effect. The regulations were approved a year ago by the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, following a bill by MK Eitan Cabel (Labor). The regulations state that if the waiting time is expected to last more than three minutes, the company must allow the customer to leave a message and it will call him or her back within three hours. If the customer chooses to stay on the line, the company must inform him of his place in the queue and the estimated waiting time, and allow him to leave a message during the call.

The regulations apply to all telecommunications companies, gas, water and electricity utilities, and providers of urgent medical services. Insurance and other companies can continue keeping frustrated customers on the line.

In the past few months, following aggressive sales campaigns by mobile carriers, "Globes" received numerous complaints, mostly against Golan Telecom Ltd. and HOT Mobile Ltd. about long waiting times with no option of leaving a message. In response to the complaints, "Globes" examined what consumers can expect when calling the call centers of the mobile and fixed-line carriers, television broadcasters, and Internet service providers, and came back with good news about legislation and regulations for business in a competitive world (not to leave consumers waiting) - measures to help consumers. After dozens of conversations with telecommunication companies' call centers, except for one call to Pelephone Communications Ltd. which took 8:30 minutes to answer, and which allowed leaving a message only at the end (and without the option to opt to continue waiting), the average waiting time was two minutes.

"Globes" called each call center four times at different times over a three-day period. The experiment found no difference in waiting times between calls made in the morning, afternoon, or in the evening.

Almost all the call centers encourage callers to use the companies' websites. During the waiting time, the company advertised its services or provide Muzak, once the caller survived the automated call direction service. At the marketing call centers of Golan Telecom and Cellcom Israel Ltd. (NYSE:CEL; TASE:CEL), the callers were asked to type in their telephone number, but this odd request can be cancelled by pressing #.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on January 7, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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