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Broadband users are an impatient lot that expect the same speed of service in the "real world" as they do online.

So says a survey by Cable & Wireless which found that high-speed Net users demand an always-on, instant response in other areas of their life too - and not just when they're cruising online.

Not only are broadband users hacked off with slow websites, they're also cheesed off if they have to wait in a queue. And when it comes to being impatient, it seems men are much worse that women and are only prepared to hang on for three minutes before bogging off somewhere else.

For instance, one in five chaps gives up waiting in a shop after three minutes if they haven't been served, while half of the chaps surveyed said they would give up online if they had to wait for something to load.

And when it comes to being put on hold on the phone, four in ten blokes said they would hang up after three minutes.

According to C&W, the impatience of the UK's "three-minute men" soon boils over and leads many of them to turn their backs on companies.

Said Royston Hoggarth, chief exec of Cable & Wireless UK: "There is a serious point to this research. Customers can lose patience with organisations and be gone in 180 seconds, often without that organisation even knowing there's a problem. And once they're gone, they stay gone.

"Businesses work hard, and spend hard to maintain their brands. However for consumers, five minutes of waiting on hold, can undo years of advertising and brand exposure.

"Technology is fuelling consumer expectation, and applied properly it can help businesses to meet the needs of their customers. However too little or poorly executed investment can exacerbate the situation, infuriating customers left on hold, or left with only an email address for contact."

Among the top five irritations cited in the survey were automated answering services, that awful phone 'muzak' companies play when you're on hold, and slow Internet connections. ®

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