Bruce McAulay simply wanted to cancel an online order.

He had bought a $109 chilly bin from Briscoes' online store but discovered it had two lids rather than the one he wanted.

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So McAulay, from Whangaparaoa in Auckland, called Briscoes' customer service line at 10.42am on Monday. That's when his ordeal began.


After about five minutes on hold, he was told that he was 10th in the queue.

"I thought, okay, I really need to tell them I don't want this thing any more. I'll do it today, get it over with."

An hour passed by, so he put his mobile phone on speaker and did a few household chores.

"There were a few times that I thought I would hang up but after an hour I thought 'I've got to be answered soon, maybe they're a bit busy'."

He started doing a few calculations in his head.

"An average call takes less than 15 minutes. So even if they had only one person manning the phone for the entire country … it would take 150 minutes to get my call answered. Thirty minutes if 5 people are answering the phones."

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After three hours and five minutes, he was still listening to the hold music.


"I was starting to think, there's probably a problem here. But I was digging in my toes. I was committed."

At 3.45pm, and five hours into his call, he started to worry that the call centre would close at 5pm.

McAulay decided to take action. With the phone still on hold, he drove to the Briscoes store in Albany, a distance of 23km.

He marched up to the customer service desk and told the store manager he had been on hold for more than five hours.

"I showed them the phone. He listened to the music, still going, and called head office."

Waiting for Briscoes: McAulay said he waited nearly five hours. Photo / supplied
Waiting for Briscoes: McAulay said he waited nearly five hours. Photo / supplied

Finally convinced that his chilly bin order was cancelled, McAulay ended the call. His phone log said 5 hours and 38 minutes.

"I did get really sick of the music, going round and round in my head. I can't whistle the tune but I know what it sounds like, for sure."

He has now bought ordered another chilly bin, this time from Kmart.

"It hasn't put me off Briscoes. But it has put me off for a while. If they can't be bothered answering my phone call, I can't be bothered dealing with them."

The Herald contacted Briscoes for comment this morning through its customer service line and email and its head office.

The call to customer services was answered in 12 minutes. An operator said the company would not be able to respond on the weekend.

An automated email from customer service said Briscoes was experiencing a high volume of requests, and a response could be expected within 15 working days.