Talking to a real person
World News Tonight on ABC featured a guy named Paul English who has figured out a way to reach actual human beings on automated phone lines. Here’s his “cheat sheet” and URL.
Suggest you may want to bookmark it or just PRINT for future reference.
Here are the secret numbers and tips to bypass IVR phone menus to get to a human. See also more information <http://www.paulenglish.com/ivr/info.html>
American Express < http://www.americanexpress.com/> 800-528-4800 0
ATT Universal < http://www.citicards.com/> 800-950-5114 ###
Bank of America < http://www.bofa.com/> 800-900-9000 1 loan; 2 account; 3
investing; 4 info; or 00 to human
Bank One < http://www.bankone.com/> 877-226-5663 0,0
Capital One Visa < http://www.capitalone.com/> 800-867-0904 ignore prompts and invalid entry warnings; press #0 four times
Charles Schwab < http://charlesschwab.com/> 800-435-9050 3 then 0
Chase < http://www.chase.com/> 800-CHASE24 5 pause 1 4
CitiBank < http://www.citibank.com/> 800-374-9700 1 online support; 2 billpay; 3 non-online; 4 credit card; or 0 to human
Discover < http://www.discovercard.com/> 800-347-2683 ****
E-Trade < http://www.etrade.com/> 800-387-2331 ####
Fidelity < http://www.fidelity.com/> 800-544-6666 ignore prompt for social security number, just enter ###
MasterCard < http://www.mastercard.com/> 800-MC-ASSIST 000 on each menu
MBNA < http://www.mbnanetaccess.com/> 800-421-2110 00# when menu starts
Sovereign Bank < http://www.sovereignbank.com/> 800-SOV-BANK 1 english; 1 personal; 3 then social#; passcode, #; then 0 (1-3x)
Sun Trust Banks < http://www.suntrust.com/> 404-588-7815 Yes
US Bank < http://www.usbank.com/> 800-US BANKS 0000
Visa < http://www.visa.com/> 800-847-2911 000 (ignore prompts saying that it’s an invalid entry)
Wachovia < http://www.wachovia.com/> 800-922-4684 accounts personal banking
Washington Mutual < http://wamu.com/> 800-756-8000 At any time after the announcement(s) press 0,0.
Wells Fargo < http://www.wellsfargo.com/> 800-869-3557 0,0,0
Western Union < http://www.westernunion.com/> 800-325-6000 * then ##
GOVERNMENT PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
INS < http://uscis.gov/ > 800-375-5283 After selecting English, (with a 2 second delay between) 2 6 2 4
Social Security < http://www.socialsecurity.gov/> 800-772-1213 00 will confuse computer and send you to an agent
Veterans Affairs < http://www.va.gov/> 800-827-1000 1,0 insurance phone steps to find a human
Aetna < http://www.aetna.com/> 800-537-9384 “2, then say “”operator”” (check this)”
Aetna < http://www.aetna.com/> 800-680-3566 * then 0 anytime
AFLAC < http://www.aflac.com/> 800-99-AFLAC ***
Ameritas < http://www.ameritas.com/> 800-745-1112 0,0,0
CIGNA < http://www.cigna.com/> 800-516-2898 REGARDING A BILL
Cigna < http://www.cigna.com/> 800-849-9000 ##
GEICO < http://www.geico.com/> 800-841-3000 Wait for prompt then 6, 1, 5
Humana < http://www.humana.com/> 800-4-HUMANA After entering insurance number and details, 0.
Medicare < http://www.medicare.gov/> 800-633-4227 “After the opening prompt say “”agent””.”
Principal Life < http://www.principal.com/> 800-247-4695 1 for english, 2, then 0 several times until it redirects you to an operator.
PHARMACY PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
CVS <http://www.cvs.com/> local listing dial local store, after promt. press 6 will connect to store manager
Eckerd <http://www.eckerd.com/ > 800-eckerds 0 for pharmacy, 8* for manager
Rite Aid <http://www.riteaid.com/ > Local Store Press 3 to speak to the pharmacy
Walgreens < http://www.walgreens.com/> local store 0 for a pharmacy employee
PRODUCTS PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
Bose < http://www.bose.com/> 800-444-2673 Direct to human!
Sonos < http://www.sonos.com/> 800-680-2345 1 sales; 2 support
Sony < http://www.sony.com/> 800-222-7669 “When prompted by the automated voice system to answer ANY questions, just say “”Agent””” retail phone steps to find a human
Advance Auto <http://www.advanceautoparts.com/ > 800-314-4243 0 when the automated message begins
Best Buy <http://www.bestbuy.com/ > 800-365-0292 00*
Best Buy <http://www.bestbuy.com/ > local store wait for extension prompt (sometimes must 4), then ext. 2021
Home Depot < http://www.homedepot.com/> 800 677-0232 “When asked for account number, keep hitting “”#””. After 5 or 6 times, a human appears!”
Home Shopping Net <http://www.hsn.com/> 800-284-3100 0
Ikea < http://www.ikea.com/> 800 434-IKEA “0000000 (hit “”0″” many times fast, if you do it once, or too slow, it will merely repeat the menu)”
K-Mart < http://www.kmart.com/> local store 0
Kohl’s < http://www.kohls.com/> 800 5645740 After providing account info, press 0 three times
Lowes < http://www.lowes.com/> local store 0 for customer service or #450 for commercial sales
QVC < http://www.qvc.com/> 800-367-9444 0
Safeway < http://www.safeway.com/> local store As soon as voice prompt starts type 1200 to get human Sears < http://www.sears.com/> 800-4-MY-HOME Silence don’t push numbers just
sit there and you will be placed at front of queue.
Target < http://www.target.com/> local store 0 during greeting.
“Toys “”R”” Us” < http://www.toysrus.com/> local store 0
Wal-Mart < http://www.walmart.com/> 800-925-6278 1 for directory
SHIPPING PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
DHL < http://www.dhl-usa.com/> 800-225-5345 press 1, press 5, press 0, enter your phone number.
FedEx < http://www.fedex.com/> 888-GO-FEDEX “At message say “”Representative”””
UPS < http://ups.com/> 800-pick-ups 0,0
USPS < http://www.usps.com/> 800-275-8777 7-3-2-0-0 or send them some junk mail
TECHNOLOGY PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
AOL < http://www.aol.com/> 800-827-6364 0
Apple < http://www.apple.com/> 800-275-2273 “000; if virtual rep answers, say “”operator”””
Compaq < http://www.compaq.com/> 800-652-6672 No easy escape
Dell < http://www.dell.com/> 888-560-8324 2 order; 3 support; 4 purchase help; or 00 to human
Dell Service < http://www.dell.com/> 800-624-9897 option 1, xt 7266966, option 1, option 4, option 4
Gateway < http://www.gateway.com/> 800-846-2301 00#
HP < http://www.hp.com/> 800-474-6836 “Say “”agent””.”
HP < http://www.hp.com/> 888-560-8324 00
IBM < http://www.ibm.com/> 800-IBM-4YOU You go into a hold queue immediately
Microsoft < http://www.microsoft.com/> 800-936-5700 Always 0. This is true for just about any MS number.
QuickBooks < http://www.quickbooks.com/> 888-729-1996 1 purchase; 2 billing; 3 registration; 4 tech support or 0 to human
Symantec < http://www.symantec.com/> 800-441-7234 00
TELCO PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
AT&T < http://www.att.com/> 800-222-0300 #### then 1 if for current phone, else 2 to enter other, else 3
AT&T Wireless < http://www.attwireless.com/> 800-888-7600 No easy escape
BellSouth < http://www.bellsouth.com/> 877-678-2355 *0
Cellular One < http://www.cellularone.com/> 888-910-9191 “4, say “”agent””, then #”
Cingular < http://www.cingular.com/> 800-331-0500 For faster service, the option that you are looking to close your account, You get the same ppl but an immediate answer
Nextel <http://www.nextel.com/> 800-639-6111 0 five times
SBC <http://www.sbc.com/> 800-585-7928 Again, an (intelligent, this time) IVR wants YOUR phone number first.
Sprint PCS <http://www.sprintpcs.com/ > 888-788-5001 “If live person does not answer, 00, then say “”agent”””
T-Mobile < http://www.tmobile.com/> 800-TMOBILE “Say “”representative”” at any time.”
Verizon DSL < http://dsl.verizon.net/> 800 567 6789 “Say “”I don’t know it”” then “”technician”””
Verizon Wireless < http://www.verizonwireless.com/> 800-922-0204 #00 or enter phone # then 0 then 4
TRAVEL PHONE STEPS TO FIND A HUMAN
American Airlines < http://www.aa.com/> 800-433-7300 “00, then say “”agent”””
Amtrak < http://www.amtrak.com/> 800-872-7245 “0 or say “”agent”””
Delta < http://www.delta.com/> 800-221-1212 “say “”agent”” four times – every time it asks for a response from you”
jetBlue < http://www.jetblue.com/> 800 JET-BLUE 1 flight status; 2 reservations; 3 vacation packages
Northwest < http://www.northwest.com/ > 800-225-2525 Star, 0,0 after initial greeting
Southwest <http://www.southwest.com/ > 800-435-9792 Calls answered by operator; during busy times you might have to hold
United < http://www.united.com/> 800-864-8331 Do nothing, wait for human.
US Airways < http://www.usairways.com/> 800-428-4322 4, wait, 1
Walt Disney World < http://www.disneyworld.com/> 407-824-4521 Direct line to Magic Kingdom Guest Relations tv/satellite phone steps to find a human
Comcast < http://www.comcast.com/> 800-266-2278 Customer service, but an IVR wants your number first.
Direct TV < http://www.directv.com/> 800-347-3288 0 repeatedly
Dish Network < http://dishnetwork.com/> 800-333-3474 0 during menu
Sirius < http://www.sirius.com/> 888 539-7474 0
TiVo < http://www.tivo.com/> 877-367-8486 “Say “”Live Agent”””
Xm Radio < http://www.xmradio.com/> 800-998-7900 Direct to human!
108 COMPANIES LISTED AS OF THU 24-NOV-2005 3:28 PM. THIS PAGE IS UPDATED FREQUENTLY. SEE MORE INFORMATION < http://www.paulenglish.com/ivr/info.html > .
I created the IVR Cheat Sheet <http://www.paulenglish.com/ivr/> to help you quickly get to a human when you are trying to call a company for service. (The term “IVR” stands for Interactive Voice Response, the fancy name for those annoying computers who answer most phones these days.)
Frustrated? How about when you call your phone company and they ask for your phone number? Or when your bank asks you to type in your credit card or ATM number, and then when you finally get a human on the phone, they ask you to tell them again. Hello, don’t I pay *you* guys money?
The problem with most big (dinosaur) companies (vs. young growing or big dynamic companies) is they hire non-strategic bean counters to try to save money. Guess what? If you don’t talk to your customers, they won’t be loyal to you, they won’t come back, they won’t recommend you to a friend, they won’t buy more products from you. Some companies have figured this out, and they have created wonderful products and services that customers love, and which allow those companies to make money. For example, Southwest Airlines and Nordstrom’s both have actual humans to answer their phones.
I have received a few emails from IVR companies, saying “the problems are companies who don’t deploy our systems correctly or who use our competitors products which are not as cool as our IVR products”. That is mostly a bunch of crap. The problem is the bean counters who don’t realize it is a good idea to actually speak with their customers. I realize it is sometimes faster to use an IVR but please give me the choice. I wish all companies allowed me to always type “0″ to get to a human immediately. Maybe it would tell me how many minutes it would take to wait, so I can then decide whether to go back to IVR or wait, or maybe hang up and try a competitor.
Increasingly, consumers are making phone calls while driving their cars. And you want to make that consumer keep typing into your IVR system? These IVR systems are particularly frustrating for senior citizens.
COMMON TECHNIQUES TO BYPASS IVR SYSTEMS
Press 0 or 0# repeatedly, sometimes quickly, ignoring any “invalid entry” messages. Say “agent” or “representative” (or sometimes your favorite four letter word).
Just hold, pretending you have only a rotary phone.
Connect to sales; they always seem to answer quickly, then have them transfer you to the department you need.
When you find a human, ask them how to connect directly the next time (and be sure to tell us < http://www.paulenglish.com/ivr/add.cgi> :-).
If one of the above techniques does not work, see the Cheat Sheet
< http://www.paulenglish.com/ivr/> .
(Note that throwing your phone against the wall generally does not work.)