Nobody likes to have their time wasted, but what causal event is most loathsome to us? One of the most recent syndicated engagement questions running in the CivicScience polling network asked consumers to pick which time-wasting irritant ranks at the top of their list, and turns out – automated phone systems at 40% easily wins out over traffic (24%) and waiting in lines (14%) combined:

What consumers hate most that wastes their time

So who are these computerized-phone-operator-haters?

  • Women and older consumers (aged 55 years or more) are most likely to really despise “Press 9 to repeat these options” over the other answer choices.  For those in younger age groups, it’s still the #1 choice for 30 to 54-year-olds, and the #2 choice for those even younger.
  • Rural dwellers are angered by automated phone systems the most, at 47%, followed by urbanites at 40% and suburbanites at 34%.
  • Income-wise, automated phone systems are universally detested, but those making $35K-$50K per year are somewhat more likely to get angered by them.
  • It is also more likely to be chosen by those who are passionate about fashion and food and drink.
  • Politically, 46% of those who consider themselves Independent are incensed most by automated phone systems, compared to 41% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans.
  • Those who don’t own a smartphone are more likely to be angered by automated phone systems, and these haters are far less likely to use their cell phone for banking than those angered by other things (so maybe it’s time to buy one and do more via online and mobile apps?).

I have to say I count myself among these folks too… and always attempt to bypass the bot by repeatedly and obnoxiously hitting “0” until the system is forced to deal with me by routing me to a human. Automated phone systems have even resulted in the emergence of a cottage industry of websites like GetHuman and DialAHuman to help us find tricks to bypassing the robot and reaching a human being.

What about people angered more by other things?

People making north of $100K per year are more likely to be angered by traffic, people running late, or meetings or events running too long.

The issue of meetings or events running too long was also more likely to be chosen by those with Twitter accounts and by those who are still living with Mom and Dad.

People running late for appointments was the answer more likely to be chosen by those who own one or more cats or dogs. (Gotta get home to feed Fido!)

Those who are passionate about Travel or Movies/TV, as well as those still living with Mom and Dad, are much more likely to say that an order or service taking too long makes them the angriest. So do people who primarily drive German cars.

Those aged 18 to 34 are more likely to dislike sitting in traffic, and so are Sports and Music aficionados, as well as those who say they are “very unhappy” today.

And what about those who are the happiest? We press 8 to return to the previous menu: 47% of them are angered most by the automated phone systems.