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Cussing works!

My departure from the States was messy. Selling up and moving to a whole ‘nother country is like that. To make sure I had stuff covered during the transition, I didn’t cancel any accounts before I left. I took my last copy of all my bills, made a big pot of coffee and sat down to cancel them once I was safely on the other side.

That’s when I discovered that 800 numbers don’t work from the UK.

Well, they ring. But the bit where you input your account number using the keypad, or press a number for which department you want…that doesn’t take. And that’s often the very first thing you hit on the way in, so you can’t get past it to a human being.

That’s when I discovered that a whole lotta companies ONLY give you an 800 number these days.

No mailing address, no customer service email. Just a phone number. I feel sure that’s a breach of some consumer protection legislation somewhere, but there you go.

That’s when I discovered the ‘fuck you’ exemption.

Guess what? Many voice recognition systems have been programmed to recognize bad language. If you get frustrated and start shouting wirty-dords down the line, you’ll get connected to a human being, pronto. I learned to explode with profanity the moment I came up against a robot voice. I hope somebody’s grandma wasn’t “monitoring the call for quality control.”

It worked for all of them but Checkfree, my bill paying service. Bastards have been leeching five bucks a month out of my account for a year — which I can ill afford, but five bucks, you think, “oh, screw…I’ll work it out before next month.” No, I haven’t worked it out, but I did find an email for them tonight, so we’ll see.

I just wanted to share the thing about the cussing, in case you find it useful. I’m all about the household fucking hints up in here.


Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 24, 2010, 6:59 pm

When The Bastards (they know who they are) first introduced voice/call gates in the UK, I refused to use them for a looong while. Until it got to the point when if you wouldn’t, you simply never spoke to anyone. I still consider them the work of the devil.

Now, you not only get held in a queue, but when you do get through, you speak someone in India, whose intelligibilty is um…. questionable. Only, you’re not allowed to, because if you do that’s (all together now) ‘racist’.

As for 800 numbers, we stand in awe of your corporate generosity. There is a direct equivalent here, but hardly anyone in the UK offers them. Instead they use non-regional numers which are, in effect, premium rate calls. Even government departments do this.

So you look down the side of a packet of soap powder and you’ll see every country the damned stuff is sold in has an 800 number, or its local equivalent, except for the UK, where we pay a premium to call the bastards. Even to find out whether it removes the blood of voice/call gate salesmen from your laundry.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 24, 2010, 7:04 pm

Hispanic. Most of the 800 operators I spoke to in the States clearly had Spanish as a first language.

And, yeah, 800 number equivalents here cost money.

Comment from Joe Allen
Time: February 24, 2010, 7:24 pm

There’s also http://www.gethuman.com for end runs around most of the big corporate IVR systems out there.

I’ve tried the profanity thing and haven’t had much luck with it. Of course, I wasn’t expecting it to do anything, I was just pissed off and giving them an earful.

Comment from The Dread Pirate Neck Beard
Time: February 24, 2010, 7:29 pm

So all I have to say is, “Barbara Streisand!” and I get a real, hummin’ bean? And here I’ve been trying the ol’ hammer on the 0 till they give you an operator, and then hit it a few more times just for spite.

Comment from jwm
Time: February 24, 2010, 7:32 pm

Try finding a live person to deal with at paypal. I had one call me today, about five minutes after I lifted the limit, and kicked money out of pp and into the bank. He wouldn’t talk to me because the account was in my wife’s name. I told him why he called, and what I had done to cause him to call. (without giving secure info.) Not good enough. I cussed at the guy and he hung up. Never called back. They all suck.


Comment from Jakeman
Time: February 24, 2010, 8:00 pm

Swearwords…Is there anything they *can’t* do?

Now, can you help me eradicate the bill-collecting fuckers who keep calling at all hours, looking for the deadbeat who owned my phone number before me?

Comment from Uncle Badger
Time: February 24, 2010, 8:12 pm

JWM, Paypal is teh evyl. I want it ded.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 24, 2010, 8:45 pm

Stoatie, If my grandmother was anything to go by, she would be listening to your call thinking “Pfft! Freakin amature!”…..

LOL. I miss that old girl, she could dish it out with the best of them….

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 24, 2010, 8:47 pm

P.S. has anyone across the pond checked to see if the 900 numbers work there?


Comment from weirdsister
Time: February 24, 2010, 9:38 pm

Hmmmm. *Ponders* I’ll betcha that when Eddie Bear calls an 800 number, he gets hisself a live body right off the bat! 😉 That man types like a sailor.

Comment from Pavel
Time: February 24, 2010, 10:07 pm

That is freaking awesome about the cussing thing. Must remember that.

Mrs. SW: Don’t you guys have some weird Twilight Zone thing for 911 calls over there, too? Like, if you call 911, you don’t get 911? You get a pizzeria or something? So it doesn’t abate a slow agonizing death, but at least you get a pizza pie with pepperoni?

I called Primerica Life Insurance today with a question about my policy. They are based in Atlanta. I got just the NICEST LADY OF ALL TIME. She was black (probably still is); not Mexican nor Indian. She sent off an email to one of her co-workers to make sure it all got fixed, and then we had a nice chat.

She called her co-worker a “chile” (not “chilly”; chile, like in honey chile.) That so rocked.

Primerica made my day.

Comment from Scubafreak
Time: February 24, 2010, 11:33 pm

LOL… I was kyping Stoatie’s daily post to put up on the Cornfield, when I suddenly remembered a scene from ‘ALIENS’..

The Marines had all been ordered to unload their weapons in the middle of an Alien nest under a Fusion Reactor to avoid shooting out the reactor cooling systems, when one of the Marines, Frost, opined “What are we supposed to use, man? Harsh Language?”

It seemed oddly appropriate in this context……

Comment from Gregory the First
Time: February 25, 2010, 12:52 am

Strangely enough, if you live in a Southeast Asian country, you can reach human beings within a few minutes, most of the time.

The exception being Dell and Malaysia Airlines. I paid for Dell Premium the next time round, and that was much better.

You know the part where people hate hate hate MSFT product reactivation over the phone? Took me 5 minutes. Easy.

PS Stoaty, didn’t know you were Presbyterian. Always thought you were kinda an atheist.

Comment from Pablo
Time: February 25, 2010, 1:02 am

I’d go with the strongly worded letter. It works for the UN, right?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: February 25, 2010, 12:09 pm

I came to atheism by way of the church, Gregory.

Comment from Pupster
Time: February 25, 2010, 2:48 pm

I don’t know if it’s word recognition, or more tone and volume. That’s why I keep air-horns in strategic places around Pupster manor.

My bank has started calling ME via robot and then asking ME to hold for the next available operator. *seething*
The next available operator does not have a good day.

Comment from surly ermine
Time: February 25, 2010, 6:21 pm

Fucking fantastic! Thanks Weas! Now where’d I put that number for Time-Warner? Pardon the french, just warmin’ up.

Comment from Nicole
Time: February 25, 2010, 6:44 pm

I have been getting a lot of those “please hold for an operator” when they call me these days. I hang up. If they don’t have time to have a real person on the line when I answer, then I don’t have time to talk to them. They eventually send a letter if they can’t get you on the phone. 🙂 Also, I’ve noticed a lot of the robot boy calls I get lately just hang up if you answer and say nothing right away. I guess they assume it is a machine or something. Hah! A machine that hangs up on machines!

Comment from EW1(SG)
Time: February 25, 2010, 9:42 pm

Seems like a waste of harsh language to use it on a machine. But I did learn a new trick along the same line just yesterday: many of the robots are programmed to recognize “Operator!,” who then gets the stream of invective saved for a real person!

And I’m gonna sit on hold because your machine called me?

I don’t think so.

Comment from Dawn
Time: February 26, 2010, 12:22 am

Best thing I read on the Internet today. 🙂

Comment from lauraw
Time: February 26, 2010, 3:08 pm

Usually just saying ‘Rep’ or ‘Representative’ works for me. It’s a fucking shame that I’m terrified of using bad language with anybody but friends.

Comment from Can’t hark my cry
Time: February 27, 2010, 12:18 am

I have been getting a lot of those “please hold for an operator” when they call me these days. I hang up.

I don’t answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number on the caller I.D. So every so often, when the answering machine picks up on one of those 800 numbers I am ignoring, the recorded message is “Your call did not go through as dialed. Please hang up and dial your call again.” If I’m not here to go over and manually hang up on it, it will go on for the full 3 minutes my answering machine allows for a message (I have long-winded friends, and longer-winded family). I just can’t figure out what on earth the geniuses who programmed that particular autodialler thought they were up to. . .

Comment from Mike
Time: February 28, 2010, 4:19 am

If you’re using mycheckfree.com try emailing checkfreebillpay@customercenter.net. God knows if it’ll work but since I have to work with Checkfree daily there’s a better than even chance you’ll get someone.

Comment from Ric Locke
Time: March 1, 2010, 4:13 am

lauraw and EW1 have it right. “Representative” or “Operator” often work, though not always. You do have to be persistent enough to let the robot work its way through the whole decision tree, which can take a while. It’s also possible to mix approaches. “F* YOU! REPRESENTATIVE!” can get the job done when the others don’t, especially when you’re three or four deep into the hierarchy.

Cussing at the live operators doesn’t help. I’m really a bit surprised there isn’t a Web site for clips from irate and/or stupid, confused, or simply insane calls to Phone Support. At one company I knew of, telephone support people were trained by having to put up with a deliberately constructed call that mixed cluelessness, profanity, insults profane and otherwise, and sexual harassment in a way that ought to be funny, but ended up being painful. I guarantee you can’t do better.

BTW what’s an EW1(SG)? I don’t remember comm intercepts or radar characterization in Stargate…


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