/ Technology

How do you beat the call centre?


Calling my broadband provider to cancel should’ve been simple. Yet, after weaving my way through a maze of automated options, I started to think there must be an easier way. How do you beat automated systems?

Working your way through a customer service line can be a painfully lengthy process. Every turn you take seems to lead you deeper into the automated system, with no sight of how many more layers of options lie ahead, and no suggestion of when you’ll get to speak to a real person.

Not only is this process time consuming, but as you may be calling a premium rate number, all the drawn-out options could rack up a hefty phone bill!

How to get through to a human when calling companies

Until quite recently my parents had a phone with a rotary dial. This meant they couldn’t follow the icy commands of the automated robots by ‘pressing 1 for billing options’. Subsequently, by remaining silent, they’d eventually be put through to an adviser. I thought it was worth giving this method a try. Unfortunately my broadband company decided it couldn’t help me if I wouldn’t select an option and the automated voice ended the call rather unapologetically.

And it’s not just a pain when calling telecoms companies. Last year we talked about getting through to a real person when calling your bank and some of you offered up some tips, including Sophie Gilbert:

‘As soon as the robot has started its sentence, I press # repeatedly in order to flummox the system and I get told after a very short time that I have exceeded the number of attempts at entering my card number and that I will be put through to one of the humans.’

I’m sure there are many other ways to get fast-tracked through a call centre line to speak to an adviser. After my attempt at giving them the silent treatment failed, I’m curious as to how effective other methods might be.

So, what are your tried and tested methods to beat automated systems? How do you cut the time of the call and get to an adviser quickly?

If you share your call centre tips, tricks and experiences by Friday 26 April you’ll be entered into our competition to win a 16GB iPad mini! The more creative the comment, the better. We’ll mull over all of the entries and pick our favourite. Good luck!

[UPDATE] – The competition is now closed. Our winner is Louise, who shared her handy tips to beat automated phone systems. An iPad mini is winging its way over to her now!

Which? Conversation iPad mini Competition Terms and Conditions

1. To enter, you must add a comment with your call centre tips, tricks and experiences at http://whi.ch/Yxwy1j Please ensure you use an email address we can contact you on. All comments must be received by midnight Friday 26 April 2013 (the ‘Closing Date’).
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3. Entry limited to one per person.
4. Our judges will select the best entry from all comments by the Closing Date during the week commencing 29 April 2013 based on what we judge to be the best tips and tricks comment . The winner will then be announced here on www.whichconversation.co.uk. The winner will be contacted by email within 10 days of the name being drawn and the winner must claim their prize within 14 days. Failure to claim by this deadline may result in the prize being forfeited.
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I’ve found a sure-fire way to get through to my credit card company, which bypasses all of the automated menus and call queuing systems, putting me straight through to a call centre operator.

I first go online and place an Internet transaction, denominated in what my credit card supplier must regard as a very dodgy currency (Euros) with a company based in some banana republic, like Germany. This immediately puts a block on my credit card and the transaction is declined.

When I then call up Visa and finish entering my credit card number on the telephone keypad I am immediately transferred to a real person. Once we have sorted out the block on my credit card, the operator falls into my trap …

“Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

(The only downside I can see to this strategy is that I might end up with an electrical appliance with a 2-pin plug – q.v. the relevant Convo.)

Greta Ieva Jurgelaityte says:
26 April 2013

Type in 0 and usually itll go through if not try it again, if that doesnt work either do nothing at all ( the sylent treatment) and then usually it goes straight through the nearest available opperator as to them it seems that you’re having trouble, you can also try going online for those who can to avoid the problem completely or maybe trying to keep your self bussy while on hold, get head phones and get stuck in to the house work while your waitin on them to answer.

Jeremy Andrews says:
26 April 2013

say nothing at all, eventually a human will speak to you

Jim North says:
23 May 2013

Tried this to contact credit card company and worked a treat.

sarah louise gray says:
26 April 2013

If you log onto the website and firstly, get the direct number that doesnt cost so much. If you can, find out exactly which dept deals with your query and if they have an email address. Failing that, ring the number and go straight for the speak to operative option.

Matthew Burr says:
26 April 2013

If you are near one .You cant beat turning up in reception and demanding to be seen straight away to get things sorted. You can also enjoy the holiday in India whilst you are doing so .:)

steven Craig says:
29 April 2013

Use live chat and ask for a call back on a mobile number no matter how long your on for the company is paying for the call

Kerry Dibble says:
26 April 2013

Choose the option for Spanish. Sometimes you’ll be able to speak to a bilingual operator faster than you’d be able to get through to an English-speaking one.