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

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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.

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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