No one likes to wait on hold for customer service, especially if those waits are long. CTV's consumer reporter Lynda Steele did an experiment and compared wait times at the big telecommunications companies in Canada to see how they measured up.

The "Steele on Your Side" unit called Canada's major telecommunications companies, Rogers, Bell*, Shaw and Telus, four times each throughout the day. The average wait time to get a human at Telus was four minutes, 45 seconds.

"It's a challenging area to get right all the time but we are pulling out all the stops to make the moves necessary to ensure customers are always happy with our service," said Telus spokesperson Shawn Hall.

We waited an average of two minutes on hold for Rogers and two minutes and 45 seconds for Bell.

"We're very excited to see those results. We've been working on making it easier to get through to a human voice. We've been making it faster to be able to get to chat to our team," said Nancy Tichbon of Bell.

Shaw was the worst offender by far. Its average wait was one hour and three minutes, but on one call we waited on hold for three full hours.

Officials there declined our request for an interview, but in an email the company blamed the long wait times on recent "technical upgrades to the network." and stated, "our existing team is working as hard as possible to answer calls as quickly as they can."

The website,, tracks wait times for thousands of companies and offers tips on getting through to a real person more quickly.

"Pressing zero, most of the time that works, or interrupting the phone system or sometimes mumbling - these systems are set up to understand the tone of someone's voice, so if they can't understand you, a lot of times they'll slip you to the head of the queue," said Adam Goldkamp, co-owner of

Shaw officials emailed CTV again to inform us that since we did our wait time test the cable giant has hired 368 new call centre operators. But when we called, the wait time was still two hours and ten minutes.

If you're trying to get through to Shaw we discovered that if you select the option to speak to a Cantonese speaking service representative at Shaw you can get through to a human in as little two minutes and they do speak English too.

And finally, one of the most important tips for getting good customer service is to be nice. If you've been on hold for a long time and someone finally comes on the line, yelling at them will probably not get you very good service. In fact, you might get worse service or even get "accidentally disconnected". So as hard as it may be try to stay calm and remember the person you're talking to is not responsible for their company's decision not to hire enough staff for the call centre.

*Disclaimer: CTV is a division of Bell Media