Waiting For The Cable Guy Cost U.S. Almost $40 Billion In 2010: Survey

11/07/2011 12:45 pm ET | Updated Jan 03, 2012
  • Jason O. Gilbert The Huffington Post

Waiting for the cable guy isn't just frustrating, it is also extremely expensive: A new survey has found that waiting longer than usual for in-home services like cable repair and Internet installation is costing Americans $37.7 billion per year.

The survey was conducted by Zogby, at the request of mobile workforce solutions firm TOA Technologies, and looks at both the impact to the national economy and to the individual businesses that force people to wait for their arrival.

Zogby tallied the $37.7 billion per-year figure by interviewing over 1,000 Americans at random about their experiences waiting for in-home service over the past year, finding that 58 percent of respondents had waited for service at their homes in 2011, and that "the annual cost of waiting per individual is equivalent to removing the average American from the workforce for more than two days."

There isn't a full mathematical breakdown of how Zogby calculated that near-$40 billion tally, but the report does say that each American values their time lost waiting for cable guys, repairmen and Internet installers, at around $240 per year; presumably Zogby extrapolated outwards to the entire U.S. workforce and came up with $37.7 billion a year in lost funds.

Here's how Americans value their time per hour by salary, based on how each respondent priced an hour of his or her time during a day they would otherwise have been working:

So, what exactly are we waiting for that costs us tens of billions of dollars? The survey found that Americans take off the equivalent of almost 3 days of work to wait for service, with cable/satellite services, Internet services and furniture delivery being the main culprits. When it comes to arriving late, however, another group of workers takes the cake by a long shot. This poll shows the wait window that most customers were given (i.e. between 12-2 P.M. would be an "Average Expectation" of 2 hours on the y-axis) against how much longer they actually waited:

In response to the question, "Why do you think the wait times are not reasonable?" the number one answer by a fairly large margin:

"Companies don't care about my time."

TOA Technologies has a stake in this survey: They distribute a suite of mobile workforce and customer service management solutions for businesses, and this is the third year they've conducted this survey. The latter portion of their report details how dreadful wait times affects a company's brand perception, and how often a customer will switch companies based on negative experiences waiting for a service provider.

The companies that are perhaps most infamous for long wait times are regular competitors in the website Consumerist's Worst Company in America contest: Comcast is a past "winner," while home installers like AT&T, DirecTV and Dish Network are annual nominees. To battle in-house installation wait issues, Comcast began testing a do-it-yourself installer for phone, cable and Internet earlier this year. (According to the Consumerist, they also tested a similar system in 2007).

For the full scoop on TOA's Cost of Waiting report, head to the TOA Technologies website and read the entire survey for yourself.