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120-minute Wait When Next In Queue?

Updated: Jul 9, 2022

I had to call Allstate to confirm certain personal information, a confirmation I could not resolve by simply visiting their website. Therefore, I had to call and wait on hold for the next available customer service representative.

I had tried calling them earlier in the week during an apparent busy time but their automated response was to call during non-peak times of Wednesday through Friday, 3:30 to 6 pm CT. So I was a good little soldier and followed these instructions by calling at 4:30 pm on Thursday.

Good news, I'm the next caller in the queue. That's certainly promising. You will not lose your place in line if you want to leave a call-back number. Why would I opt for that if I’m the next available person in the queue? I heard this announcement nearly 15 times while on hold until I stopped counting. Anyway, after 10 minutes of waiting, I’m thinking I’ll be served in a matter of minutes because I’m first in the queue. At 20, I thought the same thing – only a matter of time. At 30 minutes, I don’t know what to think as I’ve followed their suggestions on the correct time to call to avoid the busiest times (non-peak times).

Being a critical thinker, I began to wonder about the efficiency of their operation. How many phone analysts are taking calls? If I’m the next in line and have been for nearly 60 minutes, what is occurring behind the curtain? Could it be that I’m truly not the next customer in line? What if it's true that I'm next in the queue but if there's no phone personnel available to take calls, what difference does it make? Even if only two or three analysts handle inquiries, it’s almost impossible to consider that at least one analyst would have become available during this period.

Then they say, “We appreciate your patience, all lines are still in use.” Why are they assuming I’m being patient, especially after having to wait over 120 minutes while being told I’m next in line to get my call answered? I just don’t get it. Again, by saying I'm next in the queue, they are creating an expectation in my mind that I will be serviced soon. If you're next in the queue, you don't assume the wait time will exceed 120 minutes let alone 60 minutes?

When it comes to a callback, how will that work? If I leave a message at 3 pm on Thursday, when will the call back occur? That same day? Within 24 hours? What number will they be calling from? In other words, if I don't recognize the number, will that further complicate things?

I'm going to ask this again, when they say, "All lines are currently in use," how many lines are currently in use? I can't imagine being on hold for over 90 minutes considering I'm next in line. Something strange is going on...


I called back on Friday and was able to get straight through to Tom, a phone representative. I asked Tom about scheduling yesterday and he said he normally works the late shift until 6 pm but was out yesterday. He may have speculated the possibility that all agents went home around 4:30 pm so even though the message said, "the next available agent," that would not apply if no agents were no longer available. It was pure speculation but I have a strong hunch that is what actually occurred.

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