Recently I read something that blew my mind. According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, in 2017, when someone called the Social Security Administration’s toll-free 800 number, they waited 18 minutes on average for a human customer service representative to answer. That was up from the three minutes waiting on average in 2010. They also said that 13 percent of callers received a busy signal in 2017, up from five percent in 2010.
I wondered if the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare was referring to the 800 toll-free number of the Social Security Administration on the planet earth. The last time I called that number was about four years ago and I recollect waiting on hold for about 45 minutes before I hung up. And it’s hard to conceive that there was ever a time when the average wait was three minutes.
Someone needed to check this out. This was the perfect job for the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit (which is me) and all of its resources (which is my phone).
I decided to call the 800 number three times and see how long it takes to connect with another human. My first call was on a Thursday afternoon. The robo voice that answered asked me to clearly state my reason for calling. Oh shit! I wasn’t expecting that! What should I say? I couldn’t say, “I’m calling to see how long you fuckers will keep me on hold. “ That would blow my cover.
So I said, “Speak to an agent.”
Then the robo voice asked me to state my Social Security number. I wasn’t expecting that either! I sure didn’t want to give my real Social Security number. Should I make up a fake number?
So I said, “Speak to an agent.”
Finally, I was officially on hold. After a few minutes, the robo voice apologized for the delay and reminded me that Social Security pays monthly benefits to 50 million people so sometimes there are “busy periods.”
I heard this apology three times while waiting on hold. After 25 minutes I gave up and hung up.
The second time I called was a Monday morning. I was on hold for 23 minutes when someone answered. I wasn’t expecting that. What should I say? Maybe I should say, “Sorry, wrong number."
I panicked and hung up.
The third time I called was a Tuesday evening. I was determined to wait on hold for however long it took until somebody answered. I began to regret that vow when my hold reached the 45 minute mark. But I persevered and a human answered after 51 minutes.
Ooops I forgot to mention that the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit has one other resource. We have an adding machine circa 1965. And I used it to calculate that all told, I was on hold for 99 minutes, which made my average wait time 33 minutes.
So the Smart Ass Cripple Undercover Investigative Unit proved that the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare is full of shit. But at least I never got a busy signal.
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