People would rather watch paint dry than be put on hold by customer service

5 min readSep 12, 2019
Research conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Bold360 by LogMeIn, the survey examined the customer service experiences and behaviors of 3,000 people from the U.S., U.K., Australia, India, France and Germany.(Photo by Fezbot2000 on Unsplash)

Having to stay on hold for too long, being transferred multiple times and dealing with grumpy employees are just some of the poor customer service experiences Americans deal with, according to new research.

The international poll of 3,000 respondents found that the majority of Americans have dealt with negative customer service. In fact, 66 percent have experienced poor customer service — whether in a store, online or at a restaurant.

It turns out, the most common negative customer service experience American respondents have to contend with is being put on hold for too long. Results even found that, next to sitting in traffic, waiting on hold for customer service was reported as the most painful thing Americans have to deal with.

American respondents hate waiting so much that 32 percent would rather give up sex for an entire week than be in a customer service queue.

And that’s not all that Americans would rather do instead of being on hold with a customer service representative. Two in five said waiting for water to boil is more enjoyable, while three in 10 would rather wait for paint to dry.

Conducted by OnePoll in conjunction with Bold360 by LogMeIn, the survey examined the customer service experiences and behaviors of 3,000 people from the U.S., U.K., Australia, India, France and Germany, and uncovered that across the world, 65 percent have admitted to dealing with negative customer service.

What are these poor customer service experiences people are dealing with? In the U.S., 48 percent have had to deal with the seemingly never-ending experience of getting transferred over and over again, while 41 percent have had the misfortune of dealing with a grumpy employee.

But that’s not all. Two in five Americans have had a customer service representative abruptly hang up on them mid-conversation, while 34 percent have even gotten into a heated argument with a customer service representative.

As a result of these poor customer service experiences, most consumers do take some type of action. Over half of the U.S. respondents (52 percent) never went back to that place of business after dealing with any kind of negative customer service, while 44 percent wrote a negative online review of that business.

Unfortunately, dealing with customer service representatives is almost unavoidable. Americans report having to speak with a customer service representative an average of five times a year — which equates to about 300 times over the course of a lifetime.

“We can certainly be an impatient society, but waiting on hold for customer service is one of the most fundamentally frustrating aspects of our daily lives as consumers,” said Ryan Lester, Senior Director, Customer Experience Technologies at LogMeIn. “We’ll do anything to avoid it. So much so it’s become cliché. Americans do find watching paint dry more appealing than calling into a contact center.”

And while dealing with customer service representatives is not something Americans enjoy, the time will come when they will need to reach out for help. The top way Americans prefer doing so: email. Over half (53 percent) said email is their preferred method of contacting a company with a customer service request or comment.

Yet despite our hatred for waiting on hold, phone came in as the second most preferred method of communication with 49 percent revealing they would pick up the telephone to speak with a company regarding a customer service issue.

Other preferred methods of customer service communication include live chat (48 percent), in person (46 percent) and through social media (37 percent).

Respondents aged 24–36 prefer communicating with companies via email or social media, compared to other generations who prefer in person communication or a live chat option.

“Businesses today succeed or fail based on the experience they provide to customers. As the needs and requirements of consumers continue to evolve at a rapid pace, technology is helping even the smallest companies take the pain away from traditional customer service,” said Lester. “Whether it’s offering additional engagement channels like email or live chat, or making self-service a more viable option, businesses need to see every interaction as an opportunity to delight their customers, rather than frustrate them.”


  1. Being put on hold for too long 51%
  2. Transferring me again and again 48%
  3. Dealing with a grumpy employee 41%
  4. Never ultimately finding a solution to my problem 41%
  5. Abruptly hanging up mid-conversation 40%


  1. The employee resolved my problem 59%
  2. The employee was honest and clear when communicating with me 59%
  3. The employee was extremely attentive 52%
  4. The employee acknowledged my frustrations 49%
  5. Dealt with a happy employee 47%


  1. Sitting in traffic 45%
  2. Waiting on hold for customer service 44%
  3. Waiting in line at the DMV 34%
  4. Waiting for food to be served after ordering 32%
  5. Waiting to use a public restroom 30%


  1. Email 53%
  2. Telephone 49%
  3. Live chat 48%
  4. In person 46%
  5. Social media 37%

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