If you're like me, you loathe having to deal with automated prompts when calling banks, utilities, and travel providers. When you're out on the road, especially when dealing with an emergency, these extra steps (and wait times) can make a bad situation worse.
There is a solution, however: gethuman, a listing of shortcuts to bypass those annoying auto prompts and get to a real human customer service representative right away. You can browse gethuman's listings by company name, industry (travel is quite extensive), and country to streamline your search.
For example, if you want to get straight to a person on Continental's phone system, the gethuman researchers have discovered you need to press 00 at each prompt, ignoring all automated instructions. To get directly connected with a Greyhound representative, press 26. And for United, you're instructed to "press 0, say 'agent,' say 'yes'; and say 'domestic' or 'international' as appropriate." Directions are clear and easy to follow for all company listings.
I've found gethuman to be a real timesaver, given how long (and incorrect) some auto prompts can be. The site also has listings for bank, credit card, and insurance companies. You may want to print out instructions for your specific providers before heading out on your trip, just in case you need to contact customer service.
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