StudyLink Wait Times up 37%

StudyLink Wait Times up 37%

Hold music still doesn’t include Benefit

If you feel like StudyLink wait times are longer than usual this year, you’re on the money. StudyLink claims that average wait times sit at around 20 minutes (up 5 minutes from last year) – but students have been reporting far longer ordeals.

Phone calls are already a bit of a mission for us socially-awkward Gen Zs, whether it’s Air New Zealand, WINZ or your racist uncle. But one number strikes more fear into us than any other: 0800 88 99 00. A call to every student’s most reliable sugar daddies and mummies inevitably means you’re stuck on the line for aeons, psyching yourself up to beg for your Student Allowance while the most garbled, static sounding music you’ll ever hear will make you wonder when Six60 started recording their singles in a wind tunnel. 
Recently, this experience has (somehow) been made worse, thanks to increased wait times. While holding the line, second-year Marie was told by the automated phone system that their queries could be answered online. Like a hapless victim in a dystopian sci-fi, she mindlessly obeyed the robot, hung up, and lost her place in the queue. “Yeah, the response didn’t have any idea of what I was trying to ask. I’d have been better off going to AskOtago to be honest. They then told me wait times were going to be upwards of 55 minutes when I called back.” Like any good student, Marie instead gapped it to play The Sims, where we assume her Sim, with their six-figure debt to Sims University of Britechester, has been waiting on hold with Simdylink for an hour. Life, as they say, imitates art.
Critic Te Arohi reached out to StudyLink, whose representatives claimed an average wait time of eighteen minutes and fifty-nine seconds earlier this July (up 37% from this time last year). One particularly self-destructive afternoon, we decided to put that wait time to the test, calling StudyLink over and over again in the interest of statistical accuracy. And yes, STAT110 students, we probably added to the wait times of other students and ended up screwing with the data. C’est la vie. 

We called three times and waited about an hour for each call, none of which were ever actually picked up. The robot manning the line kept delivering the news of wait times around 42 minutes, but after three hours went down the drain, our better angels advised that we give up and move on. Learn a skill. Practise a hobby. Grow as a person. Anything but go slowly insane to the garbled sounds of Lorde.
To give them credit, StudyLink admitted that “people are waiting a little bit longer than they did compared to this time last year,” telling Critic Te Arohi that their “call centres have been affected by staff being away sick, due to both COVID-19 and winter illness.” The wave of illness doesn’t seem to have been confined to their call centre staff either: it appears that the artists recording their hold music were also forced to do so while struggling with a bad case of the flu. 

This article first appeared in Issue 16, 2022.
Posted 6:01pm Monday 25th July 2022 by Ruby Werry.