Who Decided Music on Hold is a Good Idea?

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Last week I probably spent, I don’t know, maybe three hours on hold while getting my soon to be former web host to unsnarl a problem that should have been easy to fix. Maybe I exaggerate. It felt like much more than that, partly because of the blankety darn hold music. The nature of the problem was that I had to call back over and over again before I found someone who could ‘expedite’ it — which in this case meant finally do what they should have done in the beginning. That also meant I was on hold over and over again.

Really, think about it. Who decided it was a good idea to put bad music or even good music through a tiny speaker designed at best for talking only and force it into our ears? I suppose the original idea was to let us know that ‘our call is important to them’ and they haven’t just hung up on us. Was there a time when we, you know, we the customers, thought music on hold was a good idea? Maybe back in the day when we used to be known as citizens not consumers. But I do digress.


MOH is the acronym for Music on Hold. It even has it’s own-needs-lots-of editing-Wikipedia-page at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Music_on_hold. There we are told:

“Music on hold (MOH) is the business practice of playing recorded music to fill the silence that would be heard by telephone callers who have been placed on hold. It is especially common in situations involving customer service.” (I decided to leave the links in just for the heck of it.)

Fill the silence?The silence that is heard… well, we do hear silence when it’s available somehow.

Maybe that’s what’s wrong with so much customer service. If the same music the customer is listening to is also played for the agents, it could explain a lot.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who thinks being forced to listen to anything but silence is a poor business practice. Am I right?

Oh I love music, good recorded music played on a decent system, live music strummed or bowed or blown or played or drummed… the real stuff. Forced through a tiny tinny speaker into my ear and brain? Not so much.

It’s even worse when the so-called music is ‘integrated’ with advertising and canned messages that repeat the myth that they really are interested in helping solve our problem or that they value my call — which may be recorded for training purposes — why don’t they just say so they can cover their behind should I decide to sue? I simply don’t believe that most customers are delighted at being ‘engaged’ with more advertising while they are on hold. Do the owners of these companies every listen to what they force their customers to hear? I’d make that law.

The truth is we’re forced to listen to this painful sound by managers who recognize we can be forced to do so.

What’s wrong with silence?

Photo by Ocean Biggshott on Unsplash

The world has become such a noisy place — adding noise to my mind through a phone I’m stuck listening to if I want a problem solved strikes me as totally unnecessary and maybe even cruel. I much prefer silence or as close to it as I can get.

Some customer service organizations are actually giving customers a choice which pleases me greatly. I’ve also discovered others can put me on a silent hold while I wait, provided I ask. I always ask, and I tell them “If you do, I can get some work done while you’re figuring out how to solve this problem.” That usually gets at least a chuckle, and sometimes some real understanding.

When they finally put me in charge

When they (the ubiquitous they) finally put me in charge, no hold music will be one of my first orders. Are you now ready to vote for me? Or maybe make me queen?


Writer, life and writing coach, book ghostwriter, Grandmother, Buddhist. Liberal who listens to the other side, political activist-www.DemocracyCounts.org

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