This Person Figured Out a Genius Way to Bypass Automated Phone Menus
It's unavoidable. Sometimes you have to sit on the phone wading through an extensive automated phone menu. Press 1 if you're wearing socks. Press 42 if you'd like to hear your options in Elvish. Maybe you're trying to troubleshoot a computer problem; maybe you're just trying to get insurance during the open enrollment period. It doesn't really matter what your goal is, automated menus are long and annoying.
It turns out far too few people know about a feature of many automated phone systems that will change your experience forever. Over the weekend, Verge editor Casey Newton discovered that if you swear at an automated phone system, it may take you to a real live human being that breathes and talks.
Life hack: I called Walgreens to check on something and got a lengthy ad for flu shots and I shouted “fuck OFF” and it took me right to the main menu— Casey Newton (@CaseyNewton) November 18, 2017
Someone quickly responded, noting this is real technology. It's not an isolated instance or a random coincidence.
You may have tried variations like tapping "0" until someone asks you to stop. Or maybe you've tried saying "agent" or "representative." Those all work on certain systems. It's basically the same idea, except it appears cursing is just as effective as politely requesting an agent. That's nice because if you're frustrated, you can let off a little steam before you talk to a real person. (It's useful for them too, since they didn't personally create your problem or build the annoying automated menu that has you so worked up.)
Many others jumped into the conversation to express joy about the discovery and to offer other methods with which they have found success.
Not that I know of. Either profanity OR saying "operator" typically works— annebot (@annebot) November 18, 2017
I yelled "HUMAN HUMAN HUMAN!" at a system the other day and got immediately transferred to a person. It's such a pleasant surprise when technological advances make things BETTER for me instead of worse!— Naomi Kritzer (@NaomiKritzer) November 18, 2017
Pressing * also works. But your way is probably better.— Ed Grosvenor (@Ed_Grosvenor) November 18, 2017
This "life hack" doesn't work with all systems, so don't get carried away if it's not responding. It might not work. However, it's a lot easier to try than, say, cataloging number sequences for every company you call.
Also, don't get carried away with your new powers. You might make a mistake.
I tried this and then someone on the line said "ma'am please calm down"— Jennifer Finley 🎃 (@JigsawFirefly) November 19, 2017
It wasn't an automated system
h/t Hello Giggles
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