American Workers Lost $38 Billion In Wages Waiting For The Cable Guy Last Year

wasted time waiting for cable installationWaiting for the cable guy, the Internet guy, or the air conditioner guy is among life's tedious necessities, like doing laundry or visiting the in-laws. But it's vastly more expensive. According to a new poll, American workers lost a total of $37.7 billion waiting around for in-house appointments in 2011.

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An IBOPE Zogby survey of over 1,000 adults found that 58 percent of Americans had waited for a delivery man or technician to pay a visit to their home in the last year, for an average of 4½ hours on three separate occasions, reports CNN Money. The poll was conducted on behalf of TOA Technologies, a software company that says it can predict accurately when in an in-field employee will arrive at your home.

More than a quarter of Americans lost wages waiting around for the doorbell to ring, according to the poll. Half said that they used a sick day or vacation time. The average customer lost $250. That's the equivalent of every American losing two days of work, says Yuval Brisker, the CEO of TOA Technologies.

The No. 1 culprit, according to the poll, was the cable guy. TOA Technologies has partnered with cable companies in the U.S., as well as the biggest cable companies in Spain and France, to provide real-time alerts to expectant consumers. "Customers waiting at home without knowing -- it's universal, it's everywhere," Brisker told Forbes.

Frustration over service wait times has reached fever pitch in the last few years. Online forums brim with customer complaints: "DirecTV is the worst company ever." "SCAMCAST should be their name."

The Los Angeles city attorney's office even filed suit against Time Warner Cable in June 2008 for "unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business acts and practices and deceptive advertising." Its alleged crimes were excessively delayed repair appointments (forcing subscribers to spend hours on hold), Internet outages and deceptive pricing.

Americans voted Comcast Corp. the worst company in America last year.

Perhaps the introduction of so many 24-hour delivery services, like GrubHub, Seamless (formerly known as SeamlessWeb), and dot-com flame-outs UrbanFetch and Kozmo, have made the cable company's request that you stay home between noon and 4 p.m. on Tuesday seem annoyingly archaic.

And while Americans actually have more leisure time these days than they did in 1965, according to a 2006 study, a Pew Research Center survey that same year found that nearly a quarter of Americans always feel rushed. Our perception of time has changed, and our cell phones and e-mail may be to blame.

"Technology has been a rapid heartbeat, compressing housework, travel, entertainment ... squeezing more and more into the allotted span," the historian Theodore Zeldin wrote as far back as 1994. Although technology promises to save us time, it is possible that it has forced us to live by its frantic rhythm, which makes those hours waiting for your couch delivery all the more excruciating.

The No. 1 reason that Americans give for companies not showing up at their door punctually is that they "don't care about my time," according to the Zogby poll.

Some companies are trying to change that perception. Comcast promised in June to reduce its repair and installation windows from four hours to two hours or less by 2012, and even gave one customer a $150 credit last month to compensate him for missed vacation time.

According to the "State of Customer Experience Management 2011" report, while just 7 percent of organizations consider themselves a "customer experience leader," 61 percent want to be within the next three years.

It's a smart plan. Seventy percent of Zogby respondents said that they would recommend a company simply for showing up on time.



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Claire Gordon

Staff Writer

Claire Gordon has contributed to Slate's DoubleX, the Huffington Post, and the book Prisons: Current Controversies. While an undergraduate at Yale University and a research fellow at Yale graduate school, she spoke on panels at Yale and Cornell, and reported from Cairo, Tokyo, and Berlin.

Follow Claire on Twitter. Email Claire at claire.gordon@teamaol.com. Add Claire to your Google+ circles.

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33 Comments

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hman570

Wow that's a lot of money to lose. I gave up cable due to the economy!!! Don't miss it at all!!!

November 04 2011 at 6:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lilnomadic1

Thought the economy was bad, who can afford cable?

November 04 2011 at 6:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wayne Chandler

I will be there between Monday and Friday between 7AM and 4 PM.........lol

November 04 2011 at 5:55 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
T REXX

i steal their tools when their late..i have 5 so far...lol

November 04 2011 at 5:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike's

It's not only Comcast, but also Sears Appliance Repairmen, DitrectTV, and any other corporate businesses. They are like doctors; schedule a person every 15 minutes, but also schedule 2 every 15 minutes just in case one doesn't show. I love it when they ask me on the phone "between 8-12 of 12-5." I give them the 12-5 and then tell them that I want a call from the repairman one hour out. They huma huma but that is my RIGHT as their consumer (look it up). 9 out of 10 times, the repairman calls me and I only work 5 minutes from my home.

November 04 2011 at 2:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Landress

First trying to figure out what waiting for a check from President Obama has to do with waiting for installation services, and secondly , the article commented about wait times and false advertisment, direct t.v. is very quilty of that. They adverstise these 29.00 prices and it ends up being alot more, so I went back to my locale cable.

November 04 2011 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
romotommy

There is also UPS. They are notorious when you have an actual tracking number from the shipper and
you are waiting for a auto part. These guys work up until 10-11 p.m. at night. Now I don't sit and wait
for them anymore. Time Warner cable is another when the order taker says between 4 & 6 p.m. and
you take a day off just waiting & waiting to them to show up. One time I was tired of just waiting around
to show up I left a quick note on my door saying I had to run a 1/2 hour quick errand and would right
back..Guess what they show up while I was gone for 25 minutes and left a note saying "Sorry we missed you" please reset this appointment. Man was I pissed off.
Well now if I really need a service call I really have to think long and hard if I really need it.

November 04 2011 at 1:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
susan

After my 30 years in the CATV industry. Yes, I started in the trenches and moved up. In most areas there is a Franchise agreement with the City or County, and they make the rules for the service repair hours. So its not always the CATV companys fault, Customers can choose a Saturday or Sunday appointment, but many choose a weekday visit. Others use it to take the afternoon off and be at work half a day. And you can always say, "That appointment isnt good for me, have any evening or weekends !!!!"

November 04 2011 at 1:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lanz096

Many people are by-passing cable altogether with the old/new rabbit ears HD TV antenna. There's so much programming out there to watch for free, including movies...who needs them?

November 04 2011 at 1:13 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to lanz096's comment
alycemd

There's not that much available here in Alaska.

November 04 2011 at 1:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jaguar6cy

Obama promised to pay all of us $3,000 each if he was elected. I think he learned how voting works in Chicago. It worked. And when he had time to pay us off, he only paid $250. We lost$2,750 each by believing what he said. When you buy votes you better pay off, Obama.

November 04 2011 at 12:33 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

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