The Patience Test finds Brits’ Tolerance may be Slipping

A new study has uncovered key trends on how patient we are as a nation, finding the internet may have had a role to play in our slipping tolerance levels.

The survey of 2,000 people found a third of Brits now describe themselves as someone who has no patience generally and one in two Brits have become more impatient in the last five years. Those we love most are the more trying, the results showed, with respondents most likely to cite their family as the biggest test of their patience, followed by a partner and ‘the boss’ in third.

Three-quarters said that the internet is making us more demanding and more than half believe we now get less free time and are more precious about wasting it. The average Brit loses patience after five minutes waiting to be served at a bar, 13 minutes waiting for a delayed train and 18 minutes for a friend to call us back. But could our impatience be down to the fast-paced nature of our digital lives? The average person will wait only 16 seconds for an online video to buffer and ten seconds for a web page to buffer.

How Long Does Our Patience Last? 

  • Waiting for a web page or link to load – 10 seconds
  • Waiting for a video to buffer – 16 seconds
  • Waiting for a drink at a bar – 5 minutes
  • Phoning a utility or large company – 8 minutes
  • Queuing for train tickets – 9 minutes
  • Being kept on hold for doctors – 9 minutes
  • Queuing to post a letter- 10 minutes
  • Putting up with a screaming child in a restaurant – 10 minutes
  • Delayed train – 13 minutes
  • Sitting still in traffic – 13 minutes
  • Waiting for a bus – 13 minutes
  • Buying music tickets online – 17 minutes
  • Date running late – 17 minutes
  • Friend says they’ll call you right back – 18 minutes
  • Waiting for food at a restaurant – 24 minutes
  • Friend to text back – 18 hours
  • Hearing from someone after a date – 2 days
  • Waiting for a parcel to be delivered – 4.5 days
  • Working without a pay rise – 1 ¾ years


Yesterday a spokesman for Interparcel, who commissioned the study, said: ‘’The results provide a revealing insight into how long our patience lasts and when it really gets tested. It’s interesting to see the limits in the various scenarios and how strong British patience really is and we live in an age where things move fast.

‘’The average person expects good, reliable service quicker than ever before and the results show expectations are reasonable. Frustration kicks in when there’s a lack of communication or poor processes.’’

The study also found being kept on hold on the phone more than eight minutes to a big corporation sees our patience plummet, and when faced with a screaming child in a restaurant we can keep up a good mood for a maximum of ten minutes. The age old debate of what an appropriate length of time is to get ready was also resolved – men are happy to wait 27 minutes for a partner to get ready before the impatience kicks in.

The Interparcel spokesman added: ‘’Even in our personal lives we expect quicker responses and regular contact. The internet means we expect more from businesses and services we use where up to the minute information and regular updates is crucial in ensuring those expectations are met.

“As the study revealed queuing up to post a parcel is something that can get frustrating very quickly. Choosing a courier that will collect parcels from home, work or another address at a time that suits you could make all the difference. At we aim to save customers both time & money, whilst offering a far greater level of convenience where a parcel can be booked for collection 24 hours a day 7 days a week.’’

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