Companies record your voice when you’re on hold

Companies record your voice when you're on hold

Many companies and organizations record the conversations their employees have with customers. So far, nothing new. But did you know that they also record everything when you’re on hold? Officially, this is not allowed, but many parties say that it is technically impossible to stop a recording and restart it temporarily.

This is shown by research by the consumer program Radar.

Violation of your privacy

“This call may be recorded for training purposes.” Anyone who has ever called a company’s customer service has probably heard this phrase. By listening back to conversations with customers, they want to improve the quality of their services. What they often fail to say, however, is that callers are also recorded when they are in the queue.

That’s something many don’t know: According to a Radar poll, half of the respondents (52 per cent) don’t know that their voice is also being recorded when they’re on hold to speak to an employee. That sounds innocent, for example, if you sing along to the tune of the queue. But if you complain about the service or have a private conversation with your partner while you wait, it’s a violation of your privacy.

AP: ‘Recording while on hold is not allowed.’

Therefore, organizations should not pick up customers when they are on hold. “It is actually not allowed because it is not necessary for the purpose of the conversation,” explains Jos Boerties, head of System Supervision at the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

“You are allowed to record the conversation, for example, to conclude a contract or to improve the service. But picking up when someone is on hold is unnecessary to achieve that goal. Because then you are, in fact, unnecessarily eavesdropping on what someone says or does in private. So, at that moment, when someone is put on hold, the recording should be paused.

Jacob van de Velde, a lawyer in information law and privacy, also says that companies should also not record customers when they are waiting to speak to an employee, even if they announce it in advance. “You still have to have a reason or purpose for [that]. What could that be? Are you trying to gauge whether people are frustrated?” he wonders. will continue to listen to you

In practice, however, we see that health insurers, mortgage providers, housing corporations and other commercial parties accept their customers when they are on hold. Insurers Zilveren Kruis, De Friesland, Interpolis and Achmea tell Radar that it is technically impossible to pause a recording if a customer is waiting. That’s why they always record callers, even when they’re not on the phone. They promise to investigate whether things can be done differently in the future. also continues to listen in with customers when they are on hold. Like the parties above, a spokesperson says stopping and restarting a recording is technically impossible if a conversation continues temporarily. He emphasizes that only a small number of conversations are actually listened back to by a quality employee.

Temporarily pausing recording is indeed possible

Yet, plenty of companies show that it is possible to stop a recording temporarily. KLM, Ziggo, Eneco, Vattenfall, T-Mobile, Nationale Nederlanden, ASR, ING and Rabobank say they do not answer their customers if they are waiting to speak to an employee. How they manage to do this is still being determined, and other companies and organizations do not.

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