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My gift .... tips to escape the voicemail maze!

My gift .... tips to escape the voicemail maze! debgardner.jpg
by Debbie Gardner PRIME Editor Now, I consider myself pretty tech-savvy. I can run two computer operating systems - one for a Mac, the other for my PC-based laptop and most days I switch between them without getting two bollixed up. I can run two different digital cameras fairly well, operate our camcorder, download stuff to my MP3 player ... heck I can even change the clock on our old VCR. Yet I still found myself running afoul of the voice mail system of a local branch of a major retailer recently. I'd called to check on an item I'd ordered for a Christmas gift, and once I got through the first prompt of the menu, I was stymied. I honestly didn't understand what the synthesized voice was asking me to do. I called back. I still didn't get it. so I took a chance. Fortunately, I guessed right, and wound up talking to a live person who could answer my question. The experience made me think of my parents' occasional complaints about their voicemail trials and tribulations. And I thought of the interview I heard with a gentleman named Paul English on National Public Radio's Morning Edition program earlier that same week. English has created a list of cheats that can get a frustrated consumer through the Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system to a real, live person at scores of major companies including insurance giants, banks, and the corporate offices of major manufacturers and retailers. I checked out the list very impressive! and e-mailed Mr. English, hoping to be able to get a quick interview with him for this edition. He graciously replied, but said he was too swamped with work to fit in one more interview before the holidays (I guess I wasn't the only editor who thought his information would make a great story!) He did, however, give me permission to send you to his website to get the full story and access his list. Check it out at http://paulenglish.com/ivr/info.html then click on the IVR Cheat Sheet link. Part of his info includes some very simple ways to cut through the endless voicemail prompts things such as continuing to press "0" (or *0 or #0) even when the system tells you that's an invalid entry; asking an automated operator for an "agent" or "representative", and the old standby, just hanging on and doing nothing, as if you have a rotary phone. The IVR cheat list by company gives more specific instructions, tailored to the individual company's automated system. I hope that my little gift helps to make your life easier this holiday season, and into the New Year. Happy Holidays!