Hold the phone
Hold music – truly one of the landmark cultural
features of modern business. Eons from now our descendants will
look back on the late 20th and early 21st centuries and marvel at
the seemingly infinite patience with which we listened to snippets
of cruise-ship recordings and low-grade classical pieces while
waiting to change our postal address with the bank or haggle
fruitlessly with the gas company.
At Leasing Life, as at any bustling hub of
modern journalism, we spend a lot of time on the phone. As such our
editorial team (attempt to) amuse ourselves by sharing the little
sonic gems which punctuate our working day. We have become quite
Classical big-hitters are most the popular by
far, among PR agencies and global finance institutions alike.
Mozart’s Eine Klein Nachtmusik and Spring from Vivaldi’s Four
Seasons concertos compete for first place in the down-at-heel
orchestra recordings. (Think the Grimsby Symphony orchestra rather
than the Berlin Philharmonic).
If not the swelling strings of the great
composers, some leasing networks favour a generic euro-trance beat
on a frustratingly short loop. It seems nothing says ‘your call is
important to us’ like 150 bpm of apocalyptic synth blasting out the
tinny speaker of a telephone ear-piece.
Our editor recalls one respected British
leasing business which, until very recently, treated callers on
hold to an entirely synthetic treatment of Joplin‘s The
Entertainer, seemingly performed by a robot playing a tin whistle
while falling down a well.
The worst repeat offender, however, has to be
the dreaded original composition. There is one particular bank
whose three bars of odiously bland guitar have taken untold years
off the life of this author. Please just a couple more lines of
melody, just a key change even. Please.
A hold-music phenomenon less encountered is the
inappropriately sexual variety. Earlier this week, while waiting to
be put through to the chief executive of a large global bank, one
of the Leasing Life team was greeted by these rather suggestive
lyrics, delivered in the saccharine style of an early-noughties
“When you are in my head / I couldn’t wait just
to get you to bed / All I want from you is what we could be doing
Oooo, what you do, what you do to me…
“Can’t wait just get you to bed…”
Such is the nature of B2B publishing, we at
Leasing Life are used to receiving enticement toward providing
favourable coverage to interview subjects. This, however, took
things to an entirely new level.
Leasing has a long and fruitful
history and we like to think Leasing Life has become a part of
that. Little did we know such an accolade would have us share a
page in the annals of human civilisation with the likes of King
Hammurabi of Babylon and Prince of Gwynedd of Wales.
On the back of a conversation with asset
finance renaissance man Bill Dost of D&D leasing, we were
pointed to a fascinating
article by US expert Jeffery Taylor, which traced the industry
back to ancient Sumer. In Mesopotamia, agricultural equipment was
commonly leased, a custom then enshrined in law in the Code of
Hammurabi written some 3,784 years ago.
The leasing of property was a common practice
across ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece and antiquity’s great
sailors, the Phoenicians, leased and chartered ships as they spread
commerce and the written word around the Mediterranean circa 1000
An agreement between King Edward I of England
and Gwynedd of Wales, encoded in the Statute of Wales in 1284, made
law the various rental rates due to lords land owners and a process
for settling debt disputes between locals.
Leasing in the modern age owes it origins, like
so much else in Western culture, to the great migration west in
18th and 19th century US.
Railroad tycoons, striving to push the track
west, required huge amounts of capital but banks often considered
the business risky and refused to lend to the emerging
transportation industry. Locomotives, cars and other railroad
equipment had to be financed using new and creative methods – the
forerunners of the equipment lease.
By the turn of the 20th century companies began
to lease out the railroad equipment while maintaining title to it
as shippers wanted to control the shipment of their goods without
the responsibility of ownership. At the same time, manufacturers
looking for ways to sell their merchandise created sale by
instalment. Thus the operating lease and hire purchase models where
After a tumultuous period during the Great
Depression and World War II, the consumer drive of the 1950s saw
leasing utilised to increase production in wide range of
“This rapid growth provided an ideal backdrop
for the creation of a formal equipment leasing industry,” says