Centrelink phones are engaged 42 million times

Callers can’t even get into the on hold queue – Centrelink phones are engaged non-stop!

We’ve said it once and we’re afraid we’re gonna have to say it again – the struggle is real, people. In fact – it’s so real it’s getting outta control.

Trying to call Centrelink? You could be forgiven for thinking you’ve a higher chance of winning Lotto than you do of getting through to a real live person.

Soar in unanswered calls

  • New figures reveal that over the 10 months from July 2016 to April 2017, Centrelink phones are engaged 42 million times, with calls ending with nothing more than an engaged tone.
  • Yep, you read that right. 42 million calls that couldn’t even make it into the ‘on hold’ queue!
  • This amounts to 140,000 calls a day, and is an increase of nearly double the amount of blocked calls experienced two years ago.

Settle in for a long wait

  • So, you’re one of the lucky callers who made it into Centrelink’s maddening ‘on hold queue’?
  • Pop the kettle on…you’re in for a long wait.

How long?

  • Centrelink’s official stats would have us believe that their average call wait time is about 15 minutes.
  • 15 minutes? Hands up those who’ve had their call answered that quickly. Anyone?…Anyone?

It all depends on who you are

  • A Senate hearing has revealed that many caller groups to Centrelink are typically kept waiting on hold for much longer that their ‘average’ of 15 minutes.
  • Trying to get through to Centrelink’s participation line? You’ve got enough time to watch your favourite TV show while you wait – expect to be on hold for an average of 38 minutes.
  • If you’re young, a student or calling about employment, expect to be on hold for around half an hour.
  • Disabled or sick callers fare little better, with an average on hold time of 28 minutes.
  • Older callers can expect to wait on hold for around 18 minutes.
  • The winners in the Centrelink on hold lottery? Parents and families, who may have their call answered after about a 16 minute wait.

But not everyone has a long wait

  • Got a Centrelink debt that you need to chat to them about? Lucky you!
  • Calls to the Centrelink Debt Recovery line are usually answered within 3 minutes. (Seems they’re keen to chat to you if it’s about you repaying them some money!)
  • There are some other Centrelink phone lines with an average on hold wait time of about 8 minutes.
  • The winners are callers to the employment compliance line, who’ll typically have their call answered is less than a minute.

Can we expect any improvement?

  • If you’ve found that Centrelink phones are engaged, you have our sympathies! And we understand your reluctance to believe anything’s going to change anytime soon.
  • But in an effort to stop all the unanswered calls and reduce on hold wait times, Centrelink are apparently hiring an extra 250 phone operators.
  • Whether that makes much difference to those of us trying to call Centrelink remains to be seen.

As we’re used to doing – let’s just wait (a little more!) and see.