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When “0″ Doesn’t Get an Operator

PhoneBy Kathy Fawcett

I have a big round Rolodex on my kitchen counter. A virtual Ferris wheel of information. Archaic? Maybe. Hard to lose? Definitely. It’s so not sexy that my kids never walk away with it, and it has every name and number any of us will want. I have all numbers pizza, both pick up and delivery. I have locker combinations for nervous middle school students. I have parent’s first names that I’m sure to forget. (Suzanne…Dave…good to see you!)  But the gems on my Rolodex are the utility phone numbers, along with my hard-won prompt codes for their customer service lines.

I don’t like listening carefully.

I don’t like to listen to this entire message.

Here’s how my Rolodex and I roll:


“You’ve reached DTE’s cust…”

“Please ent…”

“Would you like to…”

“This call may be monitored for training purposes.”

Yesss! I experience the same happiness my son feels when he finds cheat codes for his latest video games on the internet. Why do I have to go to such great lengths? Because in many automated systems you can no longer count on the “0” key to take you to the operator.

“You pressed “0”. Sorry, that entry is invalid.” When did “0” become invalid as a connection to an operator? I’ll tell you when–at the precise moment companies stopped valuing their customers enough to want to talk to them.

Here, let me write that script: “Your feeble attempt at dialing “0” is invalid, and may get you disconnected just for trying. We don’t want to speak with you personally. We want you to work hard to get our help. Are you crying yet? Good. Thank you for choosing…” 

I now hold all companies to the highest client service standards, and am constantly amazed at how most all of them come up short. We have an automated phone line at my company, but I always get an immediate connection to an operator when I dial “0”. It’s so beautiful in it’s simplicity.

Let’s see…according to my Rolodex, I have to enter a “7’, then a “9” and finally a “4” to reach an operator. “Our prompts may have changed…” Arrgh! Curse you arch enemy! Time to update my cheat codes.

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  1. Here is a great resource for cutting through the customer service prompt clutter:
    It lists all the prompts to get you through the system and to a live person. From there you are on your own :)

    Posted by: Aaron | January 16, 2007
  2. Hilarious! I have learned to cheat codes to the Friend of the Court Hotline to see if one of my measly child support payments is on the way: 1, 1, SS#, Pin#, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1.
    What I find even more condesending is those automated systems where you can talk to it and it responds as though it’s heard you. Sprint has that. Makes me feel like an idiot, something they’d show on Candid Camera. “Look, she thinks she’s talking to a robot or something!” Although I realize now that if I just say “person” as soon as it answers I get an operator.

    Posted by: Kristi | January 16, 2007
  3. I so know the Friend of the Court one too! I got a kicked out of that!

    Posted by: Corey | January 17, 2007

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Sunday, March 18, 2018