OPINION: I estimate I've lost at least 40 hours of my relatively short life to hold music.
The importance of hold music cannot be underestimated. The quality of the short and sharp noises escaping from your phone can, and will, colour your interactions with the person you eventually speak to.
I called six Kiwi companies and sat on hold with each to find out whose music made me the least angry.
So who makes wating unbearable and who came out on top?
I tried to go into this unbiased. I really did. But having spent countless hours on the phone to Vodafone you can imagine my dismay when just to be put on hold I had to explain why I was calling - twice - and then spell my name out - twice.
Once I was finally connected to nothing I could hear the familiar Vodafone hold song which I have since identified as 'Chateau' by Angus and Julia Stone.
It's tinny, difficult to hear and staticky. While the song was pleasant, I know for a fact that every time you speak to a different customer service operator and are placed on hold again the song starts from the beginning, creating the illusion of an endless purgatory from which there is no escape.
The Metlink hold music was honestly very disappointing. A while ago I had to contact them for a story and their hold music was the most calming, lofi hip hop I had ever heard. By the time I got through to an operator I felt I had achieved nirvana. But this time I got no hold music - just the generic Cisco hold which is very synth-heavy and a bit ominous.
I expected better.
Spark recommends using it's live chat box to contact customer service. But will live chat give me the elevator music I'm dreaming of? No it will not. So I fought through to speak to their customer service.
Spark's music is jazzy with no lyrics and very little rhythm. I hate jazz but that's personal preference.
The quality was atrocious, as if it was playing from the bottom of a well several fields over. I also couldn't tell if it was on a loop or not.
The lack of lyrics is a strong choice and one I respect. Instrumental allows the listener to tune out more efficiently.
This was marred by what I can only describe as a radar style beeping every few seconds. At first I thought it sounded like stereotypical '70s porno music before realising it was more akin to an R&B fusion. Overall I didn't hate it but the mystery of the beeping will keep me up at night.
Honestly, I don't know what this was but it initially slapped. There were lyrics, something about kissing the sun at night (which is pretty terrible advice and also fairly terrible lyrics) but I didn't mind.
But then the song underwent such a dramatic change in tempo, I thought it was a another one that I hate.
The second half of the song was vaguely threatening but overall the sound quality was good which I appreciate.
It was a rollercoaster of emotions but I stand by this .
The sound quality was probably the worst so far. Just dreadful. It was 'Midnight Train to Georgia' by Gladys Knight and The Pips (I think) but it was very, very tinny - as if the Midnight Train was trapped in a very long tunnel.
However the most pleasant surprise was when the second hold song was also train-themed - 'Ticket to Ride' by The Beatles.
If all of Auckland Transport's hold music is themed then that's dedication to the cause. I have the utmost respect.