I am one of millions who get really tired of getting phone-system menus without getting a live, breathing person straight away. Here's something that may help some of you folks as it's helped me.
How to escape from automated phone-system ****
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Company Web site Phone number How to reach a human Minutes to reach a human Notes
Bank of America
Press 0 immediately. 1.5
800-539-2968 Remain on the line, press nothing. 1.5
800-872-2657 Press 0. Ignore prompts through short menu of choices, then you're transferred to a representative. 2
800-788-7000 Press 0 immediately, then press 0 again. 1
800-869-3557 Press 0 immediately. Wait through prompt for account number. 1
866-246-4852 Press 1, enter cellphone number or press 0 three times to be transferred to a representative. 2.5
800-480-4727 After brief announcement in Spanish, press 1, then 2. Press 0 twice, then say "agent." 3 System warned that "time to reach a representative might be longer than usual" due to high call volumes. Predicted wait: Less than three minutes. Actual wait: one minute.
800-866-2453 After announcements, press 2 for existing customers. Then say "representative." 4.5
800-922-0204 Press 0 a total of four times, once after each prompt. 2
800-528-4800 Press 0 a total of four times, once after each prompt. Ignore the "invalid entry" prompt. 2
800-955-7070 Press 0 a total of three times, once after each prompt. Or simply wait through all the menu choices and press 0 at the end. 2
800-622-7747 Press 1 for English, then press 0. 3.5
800-332-3226 Press 1, press 1, press 0#. Pressing 0 alone automatically disconnects you. 2
800-847-2911 Press 0 three times, ignoring prompts that say it's an invalid option. 1 System warned of a high volume of calls, but a human answered in about a minute.
King County District Court
206-205-9200 Press 6. 6.5 The county gets extra credit for publishing the phone shortcut on its Web site and apologizing in advance for the wait time.
State Department of Licensing
Call your local DOL office. Press 1 after the announcement about the Web site, then stay on the line through a long menu to be transferred to a representative. 2
State Department of Labor and Industries
Call your local office. Press 1, then 0. 0.5
Seattle Municipal Court
206-684-5600 Press 1, then 0. 0.5
U.S. Passport Services Office
travel.state.gov 877-487-2778 When prompted to select English or another language, press nothing. The system assumes you have a rotary-dial phone and transfers you immediately to a representative. 1
Internet Service Providers
800-827-6364 Press 0 a total of three times, once after each prompt, ignoring the automated voice promising that "it will be a lot faster if I can just keep asking you questions." 1.5 Points off for making it hard to find the customer-service phone number on the Web site.
888-266-2278 Press 0 twice, after each time the system asks for your phone number. Press 1 for English. Then press 1 for English again. Press 1 again for existing customers. Press # twice when asked for your phone number. 2.5 Points off for not listing customer-service phone number on Web site.
888-327-8454 No easy escape from endless menu choices. It may be fastest to answer the annoying list of automated questions. For billing questions, press 2. For technical issues, press 4 and follow the prompts. 7 We were transferred to a system dead-end on the first attempt, cut off on the second attempt.
800-222-0300 Press 1 for English, 0 each time you are prompted for your phone number, then say "agent" twice. 2
800-244-1111 Say "representative" a total of five times, once after each prompt, or press # four times. 1.5
206-266-2992; 800-201-7575 Press 0, then stay on the line through the menu listings. 0.5
888-237-8289 Press 1 a total of three times, once after each menu prompt, then press # six times, ignoring prompts for your order number and telephone number. 2.5 Press 0 twice, and the system hangs up on you after saying, "I'm sorry you're having problems."
800-843-2489 Press 0. 1.5
800-220-6000 Press 0 twice, ignoring prompts that say it's an invalid option. 0.75
800-322-9266 Press 0 twice. 0.5
206-506-6000 Press 0 three times, ignoring prompts and the automated voice telling you it can't understand you. 0.5
888-282-6060 Direct to human. 0 Representative answered so fast the phone hadn't even rung yet.
The Seattle Times
206-464-2121 Press 0. 1.5
800-782-7282 (card services); 800-235-2883 (retail) Press 0 (either phone number). 16.5 Cool hold music. They warn that they're experiencing a high volume of calls and encourage you to go to their Web site instead.
206-628-0888 Press 2, then 6, then 2. 3.5 Ads and announcements can't be bypassed. Ticketmaster wins the "most annoying computer voice" award for the nasal fake-female who greets callers.
800-676-2775 Press 1 for English, 2 if you're an existing customer. Wait for the next menu to start, then choose 3, then 2 to talk to an agent. 6 Automated voice blames long hold times on the new iPod Nano.
800-752-0900 (general questions) Say "connect." 1.5
800-999-3355 To bypass each of five menus you have to get through to reach an agent, press 0 twice after each begins, then ask to be transferred to customer service. 1 if you skip the menus.
800-642-7676 Press 0 five times and ignore the automated warnings that your option is incorrect. 0.5
800-252-7522 Press 3. 8 Pressing 0 reroutes you to the beginning of the menu.
800-363-2542 Press 2 for America West, then 2. Then press 0. 2.5 You start with US Airways system.
800-433-7300 Press 0 twice. When the automated voice comes on, say "agent." 2.75 Before transferring you to an agent, they warn that they'll charge you an extra $8 service fee if you buy a ticket over the phone.
800-872-7245 Don't try to outsmart the automated voice by staying silent. It's quicker to say "agent," then confirm by saying "yes." 1.5
800-523-3273 Press 0 two times. 12
800-221-1212 Say "agent" twice after the introductory menu. 4
800-397-3342 Say "agent" twice. 0.5
800-225-2525 Press 0. 2
206-433-5388 Press 9. 1.5
800-435-9792 Direct to agent. 0.25
800-864-8331 Stay on the line to get the automated system. Say "agent," and then "yes." They'll ask you what kind of agent you want, and if you say "agent" again, you'll end up with a reservations agent. 16.5
800-363-2542 Press 1 for US Airways, then 2, then 0. 0.5
800-266-2278 Ignore requests to enter your phone number. Press 1 for English, then 1 for current customer. Ignore requests for your phone number again, and they'll transfer you to an agent. If you plug in your phone number, you'll end up at another menu. 2 Points off for not listing phone number on Web site.
800-494-4388 Press 1 for English, 1 for existing customers. Ignore requests for your phone number. Press 0, then either press 3 twice or 4, 0, to get an agent.
2 If you don't choose a reason for your call, it hangs up on you.
888-284-7116 Press 1 for existing customers, then press 0 when prompted for your account or phone number. 1.75 It said the wait would be two minutes, but an agent picked up in about 30 seconds.
877-367-8486 Instead of choosing from the menu, say "agent." When the automated voice repeats the menu, say "agent" again and the voice will relent, saying, "OK, agent." 6 While you're waiting, recorded voices try to talk you out of it, telling you it would be "much faster" and "faster and more convenient" to go online.
City of Seattle garbage
services/garbage/ 206-684-3000 Press 3, then 0. 0.75
Puget Sound Energy
888-225-5773 Press 0. 0.5
206-332-7777 Press 1. 13.5 That's the phone number for Seattle. Other numbers are on their Web site.
Seattle City Light
206-684-3000 Press 0 four times. 0.75
Snohomish Co. PUD
425-783-1000 Press nothing. The system assumes you're using a rotary-dial phone and transfers you to an operator. 0.75