Technology: Dial 'H' for 'Human'


Jan. 23, 2006 issue - These days, your chances of calling a big company and not having to talk to a computer are just about zilch. Unless you know a few tricks. A Winchester, Mass., man has compiled a cheat sheet on his blog at
paulenglish.com/ivr/ listing more than 200 direct numbers and secrets to avoiding getting trapped in the computerized-voice maze.

The list includes all the worst offenders: government agencies, credit-card companies, big retailers, phone and technology companies, shipping services and cable TV. Trying to reach DHL? Dial the toll-free number (800-225-5345), then press 1, press 5, press 0.When calling Sears (800-4-MY-HOME), remain silent. If you don't press any numbers, your call gets placed right in the line. Some businesses catch on to the cheaters and reprogram their systems. But you can always try such common tactics as pressing 0, 0#, #0, *0 or 0* repeatedly; or connecting to sales and then asking them to transfer you; or saying "agent" or "representative." Then pray there aren't 100 callers ahead of you.
—Hilary Shenfeld


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