The State Worker

Chronicling civil-service life for California state workers

December 12, 2011
Dialing for CalPERS Day 3: How long is the wait?

111208 telephone_col-1.jpgThis is Day 3 of "Dialing for CalPERS," a regular (and highly unscientific) feature that reports how long the fund's Interactive Voice Response system tells us we have to wait to speak to a representative when we call in.

We also received an email from CalPERS spokesman Brad Pacheco that explains how the wait estimates that callers hear on the phone are longer than hold times they actually experience.

Today's foray into CalPERS phone system started at 1:58 p.m. After we listened to the automated voice recording that apologizes for the "unusually long" wait times and expresses appreciation for our patient understanding, we asked for retirement planning to check on the status of a service credit purchase.

The system politely said that the information isn't available right now because of CalPERS' computer switch over. Given more pressing concerns, such as straightening out problems with death benefits, it's understandable that air time would slip down CalPERS' list of priorities.

So we backed up to the main menu and selected health benefits and then the long-term care option. The automated system suggested a website and an alternate number that we could call for more information. Eventually it offered to connect us with a CalPERS representative. Estimated time on hold: 33 minutes.

We then called the long-term care number and immediately got in touch with a real person after pushing past automated voice prompts directing us to CalPERS' long-term care website.

We're expecting to hear from CalPERS today with updated details on its automated system and call hold times. We'll let you know what the fund says.


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About The State Worker

Jon Ortiz The Author

Jon Ortiz launched The State Worker blog and a companion column in 2008 to cover state government from the perspective of California government employees. Every day he filters the news through a single question: "What does this mean for state workers?" Join Ortiz for updates and debate on state pay, benefits, pensions, contracts and jobs. Contact him at (916) 321-1043 and at


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