THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD….AND NEITHER SHOULD YOU….I suppose this is old news to a lot of people, but this column in the New York Times was the first I’d heard of Paul English, a man who’s fighting the good fight for those of us who have spent too many years stuck in call center hell:

Last summer, fed up with too many aggravating run-ins with awful customer service, Mr. English posted a blog entry that reverberated around the world: a “cheat sheet” that explained how to break through automated interactive voice-response systems at a handful of companies and speak to a human being. He named the companies and published their codes for reaching an operator ? codes that they did not share with the public.

….The Get Human cheat sheet makes for entertaining ? and mystifying ? reading. Want to reach an operator at a certain major bank? Just press 0#0#0#0#0#0#. Want to reach an agent at a big dental insurance company? Press 00000, wait through a message, select language, 4, 0. Want to reach a human at a leading consumer electronics retailer? Press 111## and wait through three prompts asking for your home phone number.

That is a handy cheat sheet to stick on your refrigerator door, isn’t it? And in case you don’t have it around the next time you’re tearing your hair out on the phone, the most common method by far for getting a human on line appears to be pressing 0 over and over and over until your fingers fall off.

And there’s good news too: if you have problems with your beer, Anheuser-Busch still routes you directly to a live person when you call them. Cheers!

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