#OnHoldWith: Announcing The Ten Worst Hold Time Offenders of 2021

Call Center | 11 minute read

2021 was an incredibly innovative year. Remote and hybrid work officially entered the mainstream, shifting entire industries in the process. Great strides were made in AI assistive technology to create an easier, more human experience. Overall, it’s safe to say the world is more advanced and more connected than ever.

So why does hold time still exist? It’s a fair question, considering that call-back technology has been around for over 20 years. Sure, the contact center industry has never been known for embracing cutting-edge technology. But the frustration of waiting on hold is universal, and agents hate long queues as much as customers hate waiting on them.

Over the past two years, industry trends have shown the number of contact centers using call-backs rising dramatically. Still, long hold times continue to plague customers to this day. And trust us, they are not happy about it. If you haven’t been listening, we’ve got the scoop on the worst hold time offenders from this past year.

Brace yourself… this isn’t going to be pretty.

Worst Industry to Call in 2021

Before we begin naming-and-shaming the worst offenders, let’s look at the big picture.

On Hold With The Worst Companies to Call in 2021

The financial services industry is leading the pack for worst hold times. They are followed closely by the airline industry, which incidentally swept our top ten list. Rounding off the top three is the telecommunications industry.

These industries already have a bad rap for poor customer service, and their customers are not afraid to share their thoughts about the matter.

Most Improved Customer Hold Time

Let’s pause for some good news and recognize a business who has made considerable improvement since last year.

At the height of the pandemic, EasyJet took fourth place for worst hold times. We’re pleased to share that they seem to have improved their service considerably, with only a fraction of social media complaints for their hold times compared to this time last year.

Now without further delay, let’s dive into our top ten hold time offenders of 2021…

This Year’s Top 10 Worst Hold Time Offenders

10. T-Mobile

This prominent telecommunications business is no stranger to long hold times. T-Mobile placed 8th on this list last year, and despite their efforts to improve, it wasn’t enough to escape the top ten.

Having to call the phone company about your phone is bad enough without having to wait for a half hour.

If you’re going to make a bold statement on your phone menu, you need to be able to back it up.

Acquiring new customers only to disappoint them on the first day. Not a great start, T-Mobile…

9. Chase Bank

Our top-placing hold time offender from last year has moved to 9th place. While they no longer hold the title of Worst Hold Time Offender, it seems they still have a considerable amount of work to do…

The fact that this customer is able to empathize with the company even after an hour on hold is impressive.

When someone takes the time to discourage their network from using your services, you’re probably doing something wrong.

If you still don’t believe people will leave your brand due to long hold times, this tweet might be a rude awakening.

8. WestJet

With more relaxed travel restrictions, airlines have been overwhelmed with queries from concerned travelers. WestJet is one of many that left their callers fuming in queue.

At least the emojis take some of the sting out of this post.

Call-backs are great, but they’re not a replacement for proper communication with your customers.

“Disappointed and unheard.”

7. JetBlue Airways

This airline didn’t fare much better, leaving their travelers with more problems than just the holiday blues…

Customers don’t consider the quality of your support channel-by-channel. To them, it’s a single, unified experience — and if you drop the ball, they’ll let you know.

At least this customer has a sense of humor about their predicament…

The sad part is how hard this person tried to give JetBlue their business. 

6. Southwest Airlines

Airlines continue to dominate our list as Southwest swoops in to snag 6th place.

Travelling isn’t always a vacation. This poor customer just wants to pay their respects to a loved one…


When your company makes a mistake and you place the burden on your customer to reach a resolution, that’s poor service.

5. Verizon

In a highly connected world, telecommunications are an essential part of daily life. So when their service is interrupted, it makes sense that these customers have no patience for wasted time.

They’re not wrong, Verizon. Call-backs can make all the difference in a customer’s experience!

When callers start to critique your choice of hold music, you MIGHT have a hold-time issue. Just saying.

Customers don’t see what’s happening behind the scenes. Leaving them on hold is the equivalent of ghosting them. How rude.

4. IRS

Ah, what would this list be without the IRS? Aside from being the butt of many a joke, government services are known for being a huge pain to deal with. Honestly, we’re surprised more of them didn’t make this list…


You should never have to choose between customer service and basic hygiene.

New rule: if they make you wait more than 30 minutes, you don’t have to pay taxes. That’s fair, right?

3. Virgin Media

Placing 6th last year, Virgin Media decided to go against their better senses climbing into third place. In this case, the phrase “any press is good press” doesn’t really apply.

The only thing ruder than ghosting your customers is hanging up on them.

Did the polite, diplomatic approach pay off for this person? Likely not…

The science checks out: long hold times will make your customers quit your brand. 

2. American Airlines

Our runner up this year for worst hold time is the one and only American Airlines. At this point, we don’t have much more to say about the airline industry, so we’ll let these customers say it all.


They were given a rare second chance with a customer, and they squandered the opportunity.

They basically destroyed their customer’s property and started dodging calls. 

1. Delta Airlines

No need for a drumroll – Delta Airlines clearly has enough hold music to play themselves out. Moving up to the most (un)coveted position, it seems they’re on a mission to make their customers miserable.

That is TERRIFYING. Hopefully they’re all okay…

Soothing jazz music isn’t enough to calm the rage of your customers.


This customer ended up writing an entire article about his experience with Delta in the New York Times.

Remember, even a single interaction can make an impression on your customers for life. And they don’t need to be a celebrity to voice their frustrations. Unfortunately for Delta Airlines, they’ve already made a pretty strong impression on comedian and SNL alum, John Mulaney, who shared his experiences with the airline on stage.

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