Melbourne’s Age newspaper recounted how Adelaide businessman Andrew Kahn waited on hold on his mobile for 15 hours, 40 minutes and one second, waiting for Qantas to answer so he could confirm his flight to New York.
He waited through the night, reading and completing a lengthy academic book on management while doing so. He told the newspaper that his decision to wait was motivated partly to avoid losing his place in the phone queue and partly to find what Qantas meant when it said that someone would speak with him “as soon as possible”.
Kahn finally gave up and hung up, describing the airline’s phone service as “just about the worst customer service any customer could ever receive”. He pointed out that he could have flown from Melbourne to Los Angeles in the time he had been holding on for Qantas to answer the phone.
Qantas said it is investigating but stopped short of confirming Kahn’s accusation. The airlines said it had no evidence of the marathon call and insisted that the average phone wait during the time Kahn complained about was under a minute and the longest was 17 minutes.
The airline said Kahn’s booking appeared to have been cancelled by a system error, a mistake that has been rectified. Qantas apologised for any inconvenience caused.
A poll conducted online by the Age and other Fairfax publications indicated that only 4% of respondents would wait as long as Kahn did. Many people would be amazed that anyone at all would hold on that long.
But the story went viral and has been carried by newspapers and websites around the world. London’s Daily Mail ran it, as did newspapers in Greece, Holland, Germany, Poland and in many other countries. A typical German headline: Qantas: Australier hängt 15 Stunden in Telefon-Warteschleife. (Translation: Qantas: Australian waits 15 hours in telephone queue.)
Written by Peter Needham