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Tips for getting a real person on the line

You might have to use a little subterfuge.

By Karen Datko Oct 19, 2009 12:25AM

We know that can help you reach a real person at a corporation that has an unyielding phone tree. But there are actually many ways -- about 50, in fact -- to get the attention of the right customer-service rep.

Tip o' the hat to "vh" at Funny about Money for directing her readers to "PBX hell: 50-plus hacks and tips to get a real person at any corporation in 10 seconds or less" at VoIP-News.

For those who've been hopelessly lost in the phone-tree maze, this list could restore your blood pressure to normal.

Some of the tips require a little subterfuge: Ask for the retentions department or select the prompt that says you want to cancel your service -- even if you don't. Companies want to keep your business, so they'll be quick to respond. Or pick the Spanish prompt. The number of people in line ahead of you may be shorter and you'll probably get a bilingual customer-service rep.

Other tips deal with the words to say or buttons to push on your phone to get a quicker connection to a person.

Or how about sending an e-mail instead. A customer-service rep will call you back. Another tip: Do nothing once you're in the phone tree. "By doing nothing, you can trick the PBX into thinking you have a rotary phone and force it to get you an agent," the post says. (For those who don't know what a rotary phone is, click here for an explanation.) is one of a handful of sources of corporate phone numbers that might take you directly to a person. Among the others are EDGAR,, Jigsaw, Hard to Find 800 Numbers and Dial A Human. Another suggestion is to do a search for other disgruntled customers who may have posted hard-to-find numbers. Try "company 'X' sucks."

Here's one piece of advice from "PBX hell" that we don't recommend: "Don't pay your bill." Sure, the company will eventually call you, but the potential damage to your credit score isn't worth it.

Published March 23, 2009



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