Talk to a human being

One of the annoying aspects of modern life is the inability to get a real person on the phone when you attempt to call the service department of a major corporation. We’ve all been led through a labyrinth of touch-tone menu choices, only to discover that what we wanted wasn’t covered by the available options.

So here’s your shortcut: Find-A-Human. It’s simply a list of phone numbers for various corporations (banks, computers, travel, etc.) with instructions on which keys to push in your phone to most quickly get a real person on the line. Sometimes it’s sneaky — for Cingular, you can easily get a human by pushing the buttons as if you wanted to close your account, after which the person you get can help you with whatever you want. More often it’s straightforward — for Chase bank, you hit five, pause, then hit one, four, star, zero, just as you might have guessed.

Don’t say that Cosmic Variance never did anything for you.

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10 Responses to Talk to a human being

  1. spyder says:

    Thank you Sean. This is most useful. I hope they choose to expand it as time goes on.

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  3. citrine says:

    Thanks for at least partially unravelling one of the mysteries of the cosmos – searching for an intelligent (I hope) life form amidst all the signals and the noise and the music.

  4. Eugene says:

    Wow. This is useful, since at the moment I am at War with Cingular. I am going to close my account, and that’s 2 days after I opened it and bought a phone, since my phone couldn’t work and I got the following responses from various Cingular techs :

    (a) Your sim card is broken, we are sending you a new one (it’s in the mail).

    (b) Your sim card has a wrong number attached to it, let me reset the phone for you.

    (c) Your phone is broken, you have to pay us 59.99 + postage for a new one, and we will refund you once you send the “broken” one back to us, on your on postage.

    (d) I screamed at (b), so they passed me to a department which says : Your phone is broken, we will send you a new one and you will send us back your broken one.

    (e) There is downed communications tower in your area. Wait for a few days for it to go back up.

    (f) I have no idea what is wrong with your phone. Can you go to a CIngular shop and have them take a look?

    I think I’ve spoken to 6 techs, 1 person in the Sales Department (“b” above), 1 person in the Exchance Department (“c” above).

    Thank goodness I only bought the prepaid plan. Monday I am going to cancel my account and go to another provider.

    Any idea whether the Ericsson T290a dual band GSM phones work with Verizon?

  5. Eugene says:

    Doh (b) should be mapped to (c), and (c) should be mapped to (d) above.

  6. janet says:

    When I get stuck in a voicemail system and really just want to talk to a human, what I usually do is hit one key about 8 or 10 times in a row. Generally this results in the system saying “What? I don’t understand you” whereupon I repeat the tactic. At this point, most systems will give up and transfer me to an operator.

  7. Sean says:

    Another good trick is simply not hitting any keys — many systems will assume you have a rotary phone, and transfer you to a person.

  8. Ken Piletic says:

    I asked how to talk to a human and all I got was this page.
    Not much help. I still need to talk to a human.

  9. Al Ford says:

    I saw you on the TV News today, 3-14-06, and they showed a long list of companies that you had found shortcuts to get to a real person. Is there any way you could email that list to me, or perhaps add it to your site here. I sure would appreciate it. You have a great idea here.

  10. ron says:

    Would like list sent to me.