The phone tree again

We have avoided being repetitive in our consumer blogs, but this story is too good to pass up. After our blog on the problem with phone trees we received several comments from our readers. They shared the various methods they have used to speak with a ‘live’ person. Apparently, it does not always pay to be polite.

When you are dealing with a voice activated phone tree apparently many of them are programmed to intercept four letter words and send you directly to a carbon life form. We tested this out on five voice activated phone trees and it worked on all five. We were amazed by this!

My favorite story comes from one of our followers who tells us she spent 10 frustrating minutes in an endless loop saying “Agent” and “Representative”. She made no progress during those long 10 minutes and out of sheer frustration said “F..k it”. Immediately afterward she heard, “you are being transferred to an agent …”.She tells us she has used this on 3 other phone trees and it has consistently worked for her.

We also tried, “Ah S..t” and that seems to work as well. This was just too funny not to pass on to our loyal followers.

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The long wait at the doctor or the lab

Are you tired of waiting on long lines at the doctor’s office? Are you frustrated when you go to a lab for tests your doctor has ordered and you wait hours just to get into the room for the test. I have suffered these same indignities, which have led to tremendous frustration on my part. Over the years, I have developed some strategies that are helpful.

When making doctor’s appointments, many doctors are now charging you for a missed appointment but think nothing of keeping you waiting for hours in their office. Obviously their time is much more valuable than yours. When I am going to make an appointment, I first speak with the receptionist with whom I schedule an appointment. I ask for a day when the doctor does not have morning rounds at the hospital and does not have surgery.

This is important because either of these activities can make the doctor run much longer than he/she planned and thus keep me waiting for hours. Then I schedule the first morning appointment the doctor has on his schedule. I make sure I show up 15 minutes early to get any paperwork done. Often while you are filling out paperwork they will slip in another patient (as double booking appointments is a common practice). I want to ensure that I will really be the first patient the doctor sees.

A similar strategy works well for lab appointments. I schedule the first appointment of the day and I show up at least 15 minutes early. I find labs often schedule more than one person for the same time because of “no shows” and/or because they have multiple technicians. However, often there is only one room with the equipment needed for your test, therefore being the first on line can be essential to being taken first.

These strategies are not fool proof because a medical emergency or a bad weather conditions can always throw off scheduled appointments. However, I find that these tips help keep my blood pressure down. I also gain a feeling of control over my life and my time, when I do a little planning.

The endless phone tree

Most of us have had the unpleasant experience of being stuck on an endless phone tree. Phone trees are of two basic types, the voice response tree and the touchpad tree. The voice response tree asks you to respond to specific questions and has a limited vocabulary with which it expects you to respond. For example, if the question requires a yes or no response you can’t say “yeah” or “yup” or “OK”, you must say “Yes” or “No”.

On the key pad phone tree you must respond with the options they provide. The typical choices will include: Do you speak Spanish, Do you want to place an order, Do you want to repeat these options and Do you want to speak with billing. None of these options help, if you are trying to resolve an issue such as a product you ordered not being delivered .

After being stuck in this endless loop many of us just give up. But there is a better solution. If you are on a voice activated phone tree try these unannounced options: “Agent”, “Customer Service” or “Representative”. These will usually get you to a customer service representative with whom you can speak. On a keypad phone tree try “O”, “*O” or “#O” and these will usually get you to a customer service representative with whom you can speak.

Finally, if none of these work you can go to the business’ website which will usually have an option for “Contact Us”. There you can write an e-mail to the company to voice your complaint. This option will usually be successful but may require a longer wait time for a response.