The Price of Waiting for the Cable Guy

Wait-for servicesWe’ve all been there. You’ve called to subscribe to some service—cable, Internet, phone, whatever—and you hear this: “The technician will be there to complete your installation between 8AM and noon.” So, you have to put your life on hold for a day to wait around and consider yourself lucky if the installer actually makes it to your home before noon. Have you ever thought about how much money it costs you to wait for the cable guy? A recent Zogby poll found that 58% of those surveyed lost income last year waiting around for an installation, repair, or delivery for an average of 4-1/2 hours, amounting to $37.7 billion in lost wages.

No one else cares about your time as much as you do
It isn’t just income lost. Half of respondents who said they waited for some kind of installation or delivery used sick leave or vacation time. Time is one thing we simply can’t buy. Think about the way you handled the last one of those days. If you are someone who can easily sit back and relax, maybe it was a nice breather. If you’re more on the type-A side, then you probably sat at your desk making calls, feverishly typing at your computer, and fuming with every passing minute. While most of us probably wish we could be more laid back about these “days off”, an overwhelming majority feels an incredible level of frustration. One question on the poll asked, “Why do you think the wait times are not reasonable?” More than anything else, people said, “Companies don’t care about my time.”

Create your own four-hour productivity window
While there isn’t much you can do to change the behavior of large corporations, you can change how you deal with a four-hour appointment window. Think about how much you value your own time and plan accordingly. Here are a few possibilities:

Pick a few simple home-improvement projects you can do around the house while you wait. Clean rain gutters, mulch the lawn, or replace worn caulking in the bathroom. Getting this out of the way mid-week will free you up to enjoy time with friends and family on the weekend.

If your work allows it, schedule a telecommuting day. Bring a project home, and take advantage of the peace and quiet to move it forward. Recent research has shown that our brains can’t really focus on more than one activity. We might think multitasking saves us time, but it just leaves you tired and overwhelmed. Taking a day at home on a big project might be exactly what you need to take your work to a new level.

Make it a day to tackle your inbox. Taking the time to organize your email (and learn some new habits) will set you up to save time in the future.

Give serious thought to whether you are the person who needs to be there. Most companies don’t require the account holder be the person present. Often they just ask that someone over 18 be there. Consider hiring a personal assistant to do the waiting for you.

Wait-for Services From Good Neighbor Concierge

Whatever you choose to do, look at that wait as an opportunity rather than wasted hours. Just because you aren’t usually at home during that day, doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it. As Steve Jobs said in his address to Stanford University graduates, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”

Image credit:  Pixel Perfect Digital