Cyber Week Frustration: Skipping Automated Systems


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Easy your telephone stress this cyber week. Image by Austra Cakura

With cyber week here, you may be looking for the perfect present and phoning companies to skip the problems with online shops crashing.

There’s one thing that you may not be ready for – the dreaded automated phone systems!

Automated systems are a pain for many people. Whether you are ready to make a purchase, struggling with technical problems on a device, or have queries about your phone bill, the last thing you want to do is spend hours going through a phone system telling you “press 1 to pay your bill, press 2 to add credit card details.”

It leads to frustration as we try to press all the right buttons to get to a real-life human! There is now a way around this – but it will not always work for the best.

A System to Sense Your Frustration

Some operators now use software that will sense your frustration. When you use certain words, the automated message will stop partway through and you will be sent straight to a human to deal with your query.

Words include swear words and a general slur of obscene language. Some of the systems even apologize for your wait.

Not all systems offer this. Apple is one that does but, after trying it with various systems, it is clear that only a handful offer it at this time. It just leads to looking a little silly, shouting at a phone on the chance that you’ll get through to a human.

Does Not Lead to a Quicker Response

This system does not mean that you will get the response you need right away. The majority of the companies send you through to an operator who is a little like a secretary. This “secretary” will apologize for the delay and try to help calm you down and then find out the problem. After that, you will be placed into the right queue – yes, the same virtual line you would be in if you had pressed all the buttons.

Is it Really Worth It?

The process does not help you reach an answer to your query any faster, unless your question is very simple, but it can help to ease your frustration. There are times where it feels like you are going around in circles on an automated system trying to find the right queue to get into, so the human helps to speed that process up. You may still have an hour wait – depending on your needs and the company you’re trying to reach!

If you do not like swearing, there is a more civilized approach. Pressing ‘0’ will also get you through to an operator in most automated systems. You may need to press zero multiple times. The good news is that this works on the majority of systems, unlike yelling at the phone.

Technology During the Shopping Season

Technology is great, when it works, but it can be the most annoying thing in the world when you’re looking for an answer Right Now! Many companies are now relying on automated systems to help direct people to the right department. While this helps you in the long run, it is annoying to work out which numbers you need to press, especially when you’re going through five minutes of automated messages, and paying for the call. Cyber week is already frustrating, so make it a little easier on yourself by bypassing the never-ending automation on the phone. So, the next time you have to call a company, and you’re getting an electronic runaround, try shouting down the phone or pressing zero numerous times.


Gayle, D. Why Apple’s Robot Operator Knows When It’s Pushed You Too Far: Swearing Gets You Connected to a Real-Live Human. (2012).

Daily Mail Online. Accessed November 27, 2012.

Price, D. How to Jump Apple’s Customer Service Queue: Swear. (2012). Macworld. Accessed November 27, 2012.

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