As is typical for Google, the company has added a fun and useful new feature for Pixel users with the Pixel 3 or later in the US, Australia and Canada. With this feature, ‘Wait for me’, you can have the Google Assistant listen in on a call while you are on hold and the Assistant will alert you when a human returns to the line. Personally, I have used this several times with my Pixel 6 Pro and it works perfectly.
The IRS agent said she wouldn’t call because of Google’s “Hold for Me” feature.
The purpose of “Hold on Me” is to let you do other things while on hold without having to listen to the excruciating music that comes with most companies’ “on-hold” system. When a person returns to the other end of the call, an alert sounds and a message on the display tells you that someone has returned. The Google Assistant will compose a transcript that shows if music is playing or if there are other announcements made by the company during the time you are on hold.
When the person from the company or organization you called comes back on the line, Google informs them that the caller is still connected and returns to the line in seconds. The feature uses the same AI technology that drives the Pixel’s duplex feature. You may recall that Duplex allows Google Assistant to make reservations and appointments for you by having a two-way conversation with a real person who even throws some strategic “uhs” into the call to make it sound as realistic as possible.
According to an Reddit user with the handle “powerbird101”, he was on hold for 90 minutes with the Internal Revenue System (IRS, also known as the IRS for people outside the US) and used “Hold for Me” on his Pixel 6 Pro. When the agent returned to the line, she told the caller that the IRS will not take calls using Google’s “Hold for Me” technology. Before the Reddit user could find any other information, the IRS agent hung up and disconnected.
For some customer service agents, “Hold for Me” can be confusing
Reddit’s reactions to the post ranged from serious (“I used it to call Social Security and they didn’t mention anything”) to hilarious (see how the IRS will react in 2030 when Apple “invents” the feature). One Reddit user, “modeless,” had a great idea suggesting that Google allow users to record their own voice by saying “Hold on,” which the other party would hear when you return to the conversation. However, Google would likely ignore such a suggestion due to legal issues.
There is no doubt that when Google warns the other party that you are returning to the conversation, it can be confusing. A Redditor explains what happened when he used “Hold for Me” with his couch. He writes: “I was on hold for me recently with Capital One, and when I got back to the call, the lady asked me if a third party was listening in on our conversation. I said in a confusing tone “No.” Then she asked if I was the only one who called her and said “yes I am.”
Later I thought about why that was such a weird exchange, and I think it was because when I got back to the conversation, the Google Assistant said I was going back to the conversation. Incredible feature, but when it comes to financial institutions and other official matters, it can certainly confuse people.”
IRS policy states that you cannot record phone calls to the IRS, which likely explains the agency’s reluctance to accept calls put on hold with “Hold for Me.”