How Long Does It Take Your Broker to Answer Your Call?

I am sure you have called your broker on occasions when you had a problem with your account. Usually, how long did it take for your broker to answer your phone call?  Were you be able to talk to a broker when you needed immediate assistance with your trades?

I have a few brokerage accounts and among them three I use most often: Scottrade, Zecco, and TradeKing. In the past, I have contacted all of them for various questions, some related to trading, some just general questions. My experience so far is mixed. Generally, Scottrade was quick in answering my calls and had my problems resolved satisfactorily in a timely manner. The reason could be that I always call my local branch office and talk to representatives whom I talked to multiple times before. And when I questioned about TradeKing’s stock quote, I was approached immediately by the broker and the issue was soon cleared. With Zecco, on the other hand, it was a frustrating experience especially in the early days when they didn’t even have a toll-free number, even though problems eventually got solved (last time I got some additional help from @Zecco on Twitter). In my interview with Zecco last year, the broker said it had done a lot on its customer service. But it looks like that for Zecco there are still rooms for improvements, plenty of rooms.

Last Friday, SmartMoney published a report on brokers’ response time to phone calls from customers. According to the survey, ShareBuilder is the quickest to pick up the phone, taking an average of 16 seconds. Brokers with the best response time are:

Broker Average answer time (seconds)
ShareBuilder 16
Charles Schwab 23
Scottrade 25
Fidelity 31
WellsTrade 31
T. Rowe Price 32

At the other end of the spectrum are brokers really take their times to answer the phone. The worst, not surprisingly, is Zecco. The average time for Zecco to response is 97 seconds, that’s five times the time ShareBuilder needs (the time is probably enough for someone to finish a quick call) and twice as much for Firstrade, another broker I am usaing.

Broker Average answer time (seconds)
Zecco 97
Bank of America 70
Just2Trade 57
Firstrade 48
E*Trade 47
TD Ameritrade 41

The SmartMoney article has this to say about Zecco:

Zecco, a site that offers commission-free trades, could learn a thing or two from ShareBuilder. It took Zecco operators 97 seconds on average to pick up the phone or five times as long as our best entrant. The last thing an anxious trader needs on a big market day is to listen to cheesy hold music while waiting for a Zecco representative.

As we know, Zecco has made some dramatic change in their pricing policy recently, a move that has upsetted many small investors. Early this month, they also introduced a new Zecco foreign exchange platfrom. While it is obvious that Zecco is trying to expand its reach to potential new customers, I’d rather see them take effort to keep their existing customers happy.

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