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If your company uses, or is considering using, on-hold music, please… just stop. Immediately. If for no other reason than that the digital compression now almost universally employed by the telecommunications companies for cellphones dependably turns what was — or what may have been, it’s often debatable — actual music at the time when it was recorded into a phase-shifted, reduced information nightmare of excruciating abuse for the listener.

Which you are probably exacerbating by feeding into your phone system at too high a volume. But don’t reach for any knobs or sliders; you absolutely cannot fix this by changing the volume or the equalization. It is a fundamental and unavoidable problem inherent to the communications systems between your facilities and the customer.

Having on-hold music enabled makes music haters hate it more, and hate you for inflicting this horror upon them; and it makes music lovers hate you for being responsible for doing such miserable things to the music. The people who made the music are likely driven into deep depression if they happen to hear their work so abused.

There’s also the fact that no matter what on-hold music you have chosen, people’s tastes differ enormously, and so you are guaranteed to cause every single caller who doesn’t share your particular on-hold choice to grind their teeth and start out even more annoyed than they were in the first place.

To put it simply, on-hold music makes everyone hate you.

So please. Don’t enable on-hold music, or if already enabled, turn it off.

While I’m at it, try having an actual human being answer your phones. You’d be amazed what a positive first (and follow-on) impression that leaves. As opposed to…

 

Please listen carefully, as our menu options have changed.

Press one if you’d like to be driven insane by something that might have been on-hold music before it was turned into horrific, distorted mush on its way to your phone.

Press two if you’d like to listen to another menu full of options that have nothing to do with why you called.

Press three if you would like to be summarily disconnected after a random (but generally quite lengthy) interval while waiting for “the next available representative.”

Press four if you would like us to kill your cellphone battery with an indefinite hold, regularly punctuated by wholly false assurances that “we really care about you and will be with you soon.”

Press five if you’d like to be directed to our website. Please be aware that our website is only partly functional and was designed by poorly paid foreigners who have neither language skills appropriate to the regions we sell our products in, or any understanding that websites should only take action, such as drop menus or pop up windows, when people actually click on buttons and links clearly intended to initiate such action.

Pulse seis si desea escuchar a estos menús en mal hablado español.

Press eight to give us your credit card information so we can charge you for sitting on hold waiting for “premium support” from our script-reading, non-technical employees.

Press zero to hear these options again. Thank you for calling StupidCorp, and we look forward to taking your money and under-serving you in the future. Remember: StupidCorp. We were the ones that drove you to regular doses of Wellbutrin. Now you can up your dose!

…all with underlying noise that makes (what used to be) music seem as if it had been pushed through an outhouse. From deep below. Backwards.