This Bank Paid Consumers for Their Long Waits on Hold and in Checkout Lines

ING Direct eases the pain

Ce n'est pas bon. ING

As if long telephone wait times weren’t infuriating enough, folks who call some corporate customer service departments in France actually have to pay for each minute they spend on hold. Ultimately, a surtaxé is added to their phone bills, and the funds redistributed to the brands that kept them hanging on the line.

Sacré bleu! Quelle horreur! Womp womp!

With such indignities in mind, ING Direct launched a campaign touting its free telephone hold times in France, which last, on average, less than 50 seconds. The initiative includes an amusing hidden-camera film shot at a gas station near Paris, where the fictitious “wait tax” really strips some gears:

“The director (Cyril Tellenne) is a specialist in this type of exercise and had worked a lot for a hidden camera TV show here,” says Jean-Francois Sacco, co-founder and creative chief at Rosapark, which developed the campaign. “There are absolutely no actors in the film except the guy in the booth. Sometimes people got out of their cars. It was hard for our actor who, without any real training, had to deal with the surge of anxious people at the register like a pro, and act at the same time.”

All day Friday, the bank staged a social media contest, inviting users to complain about sundry long waits using the #PayeTonAttente (“Pay your wait”) hashtag on Twitter.

Fifteen winners received up to 60 cents per minute for the best stories, with the bank rewarding the most unusual and entertaining tweets.

One dude groused about a 12-hour airport wait on Easter Island for a flight back to Rio de Janeiro, an Ikea customer raged against the on-hold music he recently had to endure for 45 minutes, and, a chef complained that her carbonnade (a Flemish beef and beer stew) took an agonizing two hours to simmer.

Then there’s the cheeky user whose first contest tweet — about the time he spent worrying if his broken phone would ever work again — languished, prompting this winning followup: “It’s been exactly 3h since I’ve been waiting for @ingdirectfrance to respond to my tweet.”


ING Direct
Marketing And Commercial Director: Yvon Martin
Brand And Media Manager: Amélie Nguyen Ngoc
Advertising And Content Manager: Marine Léoni
Brand Content And Social Media Manager: Nicolas Hun

Co-Founders: Jean-Patrick Chiquiar, Gilles Fichteberg, Jean-françois Sacco
Managing Director: Sacha Lacroix
Account Director: Soraya Cottin
Account Manager: Caroline Planty
Head Of Social: Thibaut Thureau
Strategic Planner: Alexandre Ribichesu
Creative Directors: Gilles Fichteberg, Jean-François Sacco
Copywriter: Pierre-Antoine Dupin
Art Director: Frédéric Leclerc
Tv Production: Thomas Laurent, Ingrid Le Minh, Vincent Lacroix
Press: Theda Braddock
Production Company: Birth
Producers: Tristan Béraud, Jordan Santoul
Director: Cyril Tellenne
Media Agency: Carat

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@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.