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Customer Service Hacks to Help You Get an Actual Human on the Phone

Try these tricks to speak to a live person on the phone and skip the endless phone directory maze

spinner image a red telephone sits in the middle of a yellow concentric maze
Paul Spella

If you have ever had to call customer service to get help with an online order or find out more about a product, you know how hard it is to get an actual human on the telephone. More and more places, from department stores to doctors’ offices to hotels, have gone almost entirely automated. 

While some questions like store location and hours can easily be answered by pressing a key on the phone menu or through artificial intelligence (AI), other inquiries do require human assistance.

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What can you do to speak to an actual human on the phone? Here are some tips:

Press “0”

The most straightforward approach is to press zero, which, in most cases, will connect you to a human operator. However, that operator may ask to place you on a “brief hold” and do so before you even have a chance to agree.

The 0# Hack

Music industry expert Liz Kamlet posted a TikTok video claiming that customers can bypass the menu and go straight to a customer service representative at many companies by typing the number zero followed by the pound sign three times in a row (0# 0# 0#) any time they are asked to describe the reason for their call.

The Daily Mail tested the claim, and the trick proved successful at five of the eight major U.S. companies they tried, including Chase Bank, American Airlines and Amazon. This trick may not work for much longer, now that the Kamlet’s post has gone viral.

File a Complaint

Sometimes you have to be a squeaky wheel to get attention. File a grievance, not with the company but on social media. If you post about a bad experience on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok and tag the company, you may get a response from a human, especially if your post gets a lot of attention.

Choose a Different Prompt

Companies are more likely to have a human answer quicker to prompts such as “new service” or “cancel my account” than “check the status of my order” or other requests. Select a different option and then feign ignorance to get rerouted to the right department. A major exception to this hack: Do not use it if you are trying to contact a medical professional or hospital where the issues can be life or death.

Talk Gibberish

Many automated customer service lines recognize only specific phrases. If you speak low or mumble, or supply responses that do not make sense, the system may not understand and send you directly to a human operator. Another option is to answer every question with the word “complaint.”

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Enlist Help to Get Human Help

Companies such as GetHuman promise to get a human representative on the phone for you. They do the waiting and call you back when they have a live connection. GetHuman is free but is laden with advertisements to pay for its service, plus you have to give them your phone number, which may not sit well for those who value their privacy.

Other services charge a flat fee depending on the issue you are trying to resolve. Reviews are mixed for these services, but you can check out DoNotPay, a website that offers other free hacks in addition to standing in the hold queue for you.

When You Do Get a Human…

Once you are live, remember to be nice! Even if you have been on hold for a long time, you don’t want to be aggressive or rude to the human who has finally picked up your call. Being patient and courteous and even using a little flattery can go a long way toward getting the best, quickest service possible.

Also, be ready. When you finally get a human on the phone, you don’t want to be fumbling for your account number, credit card information or order number. The more prepared you are, the faster you can get your problem resolved — and the more quickly the next customer waiting on hold gets to talk to a human.

Share Your Experience: Do you have a hack to get a live operator on the phone? Share your trick in the comments below.

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