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Telephone Tip for the Day

David Nunez
David Nunez
2 min read

When calling for customer service, Never, NEVER “press 1 for English.” In fact, don’t press any numbers at all. Just sit patiently and wait.

You’ll jump to the top of the queue and will get an immediate answer from a human being.

Trust me. It works… Just try it next time.You see, if an old person or someone without fingers calls and doesn’t know how, can’t comprehend, or simply isn’t able to press numbers, then customer support wants to deal with them right away with a human (who is decidedly more flexible than 10 levels of menus…)

I learned this tip from the cable guy that hooked up my apartment way back when.

I’ll give you an anecdote:

Yesterday, I was calling SWB to set up phone service in the house. (Every single person in my family has access to a cell phone, so a hard-wired phone was sort of low on the priority list.

I called at 9:00 and navigated through the menus (which took about 2 minutes) before I was even put in the queue. Then, after a few minutes of waiting, the system came back and told me that there were too many callers and I need to try again later.

This happened at 11:00 and again at 2:00.

IMMEDIATELY after I placed the 2:00 call, I pulled out the “Do Nothing” trick. 15 seconds after I placed the call… “<ring> <ring> Thank you for choosing SWB. This is Christy. how may I help you?”

Haven’t you ever noticed that sometimes you’ll call someplace and they say “Press 1 to continue.” WHY? Why would you need to press anything to continue? Why doesn’t it JUST CONTINUE?

First, it checks if you HAVE touch tone. (Most people in the free world have access to touch tone phones these days, so I’m not buying THAT as a real strong reason). Second, it checks your willingness to interact with a computer rather than a person… “Ahhh… this sucker likes pushing buttons, eh? Well, let’s push some buttons then… Muahahahahahah!!”


Take back your life… don’t sit on hold for 30 minutes any more.

David Nunez Twitter

Dir of Technology at the MIT Museum • Writing about emerging tech's impact on your life • Speculative insights on the intersection of humanity and technology 🤖


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