Relief from 'phone frustration'

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It doesn't seem to matter who you call these days -- your credit card company, your cell phone provider -- you always end up stuck on hold. But we have some solutions to your phone frustration.

We all know what those automated systems are like.

Charles Biggers complained, "They ask you if you want customer service, and you say 'yes.' Then they take you somewhere else!"

And Meredith Cooper told us, "You wait for 20-minutes and then your question is answered in like 5-seconds!"

But there IS a way to reduce that 20-minute wait and get connected to a REAL person.

National customer service expert Jordy Leiser gave us some tips via satellite. First, he says check out the web site

" actually provides the numbers on the phone you're supposed to push to connect you to sales, technical support, etc.."

And if you're on the go, there's also a great smartphone app called Fast Customer.

"Fast Customer essentially allows you to pick the name of the company you want to reach, and they will actually have that company call you back," Leiser explained.

Lesier's company, StellaService, just finished grading thousands of retailers on their telephone systems with the help of mystery shoppers nationwide.

"They could be very large retailers and get a very large volume of calls, but it's still important for them to be customer-centric," Leiser said.

Here are the top ten companies withe SHORTEST hold times. All came in under 30-seconds.

RetailerAverage Hold Time
Sierra Trading Post6 seconds
YOOX.com11 seconds
The Disney Store12 seconds
Urban Outfitters17 seconds
Grainger.com21 seconds
Nordstrom21 seconds
Fingerhut.com23 seconds
MarketAmerica.com25 seconds
L.L. Bean25 seconds
Nieman Marcus28 seconds

So which retailers had the LONGEST hold times? Here are the bottom ten:

RetailerAverage Hold Time
Avon3 minutes, 49 seconds
HPShoping.com4 minutes, 6 seconds
Crate & Barrel4 minutes, 10 seconds
Costco4 minutes, 21 seconds
Buy.com4 minutes, 30 seconds
Green Mountain Coffee4 minutes, 50 seconds
Zones.com6 minutes, 56 seconds
Macy's7 minutes, 12 seconds
CSNStores.com7 minutes, 20 seconds
Barnes & Noble8 minutes, 3 seconds

StellaService also tested retailers on the amount of time it took them to respond to customer emails. Here are the fastest responders:

RetailerEmail Response Time
Office Depot48 minutes
MusiciansFriend.com58 minutes, 40 seconds
Diapers.com1 hour, 23 minutes
The Disney Store1 hour, 47 minutes
Abercrombie1 hour, 50 minutes
USAutoParts.net3 hours, 38 minutes
Gilt.com4 hours, 43 minutes
PCMall.com4 hours, 49 minutes
Khol's5 hours, 2 minutes
Coldwater Creek5 hours, 6 minutes

And here are the retailers that too the longest:

RetailerEmail Response Time
TigerDirect.com24 hours, 15 minutes
Net-a-Porter.com24 hours, 35 minutes
Etronics.com26 hours, 1 minute
Ann Taylor29 hours, 7 minutes
Home Depot29 hours, 12 minutes
Amway Global29 hours, 48 minutes
Williams-Sonoma31 hours, 18 minutes
NorthernTool.com35 hours, 45 minutes
Nike37 hours, 17 minutes
Best Buy39 hours, 3 minutes

For more information about StellaService, log on to

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