Customer Service Phone Trees

Customer Service Phone Trees Cartoon by Bearman Cartoons

Today’s cartoon highlights one of my biggest process pet peeves when it comes to customer service.  In order to get to a live operator, the phone tree forces you to enter your customer id number or your telephone number.   Customer ID’s are worse because no one has them memorized.

So after entering said number, you wait on hold, and when finally connected to a live agent they force you to repeat the number.  What’s up with that?

Everyone has good and bad experiences with customer service reps but I am interested to know if there are any customer service policies/processes that you find irritating that are outside the control of the reps themselves.

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73 Responses to “Customer Service Phone Trees”

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  1. Nate Fakes says:

    So true. I never understood that either.

  2. George says:

    My wife thinks I’m crazy, but I’ve found a way to “work it” when it comes to automated customer service lines: I speak like a robot when I say any numbers or words. I sound loony, but it works every time. The computers don’t recognize dialects so I talk to it in the exact same voice and with identical inflections that it spoke to me in. 🙂

  3. Christina says:

    I hate that too. I think it is done as a method of discouragement.

  4. Robin says:

    Ha, yeah totally! When I call my mobile phone provider, they ask me “and what number is this relating to?”, after I have typed in my personal access code which only works with the phone on their account, on their systems. I politely point out if they are not intelligent enough to figure out the number flashing on their screen in front of them is mine, then I’d like to speak to someone else.

    • Bearman says:

      That is the thing, it probably is NOT flashing on their screen. It is like there are two different systems in play that don’t talk to each other.

  5. Red Dwyer says:

    You and Robin have my number one and two respectively. My number three is when they want me to route my call (to their 24 hour center) only to find out the only 24 hour department is sales. They only work in AZ time, from 9-3 M-F.

    Besides that, who really wants to hack my account via telephone? I think giving them three forms of oral ID is insane…especially when to process my request I have to hang up and call back…to do it all again. I have never once re-verified my identity the second time. I just get to speak to a “supervisor” (the next CSR in the queue) so I do not have to do it.

  6. Comedy Plus says:

    I hate phone trees and I don’t want to have to pass a test to talk to a real person. Drives me over the edge and for me that’s a very short trip.

    Have a fantastic day. ☺

  7. duncanr says:

    I have the same problem remembering long account or customer numbers

    My other pet hate when finally getting through to speak to a real person is being asked for my answer to a security question set up when opening the account several years ago. I have no problem supplying the correct answer if I’m told what the original question was but come unstuck when I have to remember the question too – was it my mother’s maiden name? the place where I was born? or my first school?

    I never guess right first time 😳

    • Bearman says:

      Actually the worst is when they ask my birthday as I almost never put the real one in but I wasn’t smart enough to be consistent with my fake one.

  8. ltpen315,barb says:

    I’m with Christina…I think they hope we will get aggravated and hang up!

  9. Tony McGurk says:

    That’s one thing I always found irritating too. You would think the robot lady would pass the Customer ID on to the human agent.
    In my last job I had to regularly ring various freight companies to arrange freight collections. One company had a Robot Woman take your booking with voice recognition technology. After answering a million questions she would ask “Is any item for this consignment longer than 1.4 metres?” If you answered yes, which I often did as we shipped a lot of PVC electrical conduit, she would say “Please wait while I connect you to a Customer Service Agent”. Then I’d have to go through the whole rigmorole again. If you did have anything over 1.4m there was no way at the start of the call to bypass robot woman & go straight through to a human.

    • Bearman says:

      Well then you should just make up everything until you get to the consignment size and then you wouldn’t have to worry about it..haha

  10. I don’t know… maybe it’s just me… but the robot lady sounds kinda hot. Sometimes I call her when I’m lonely. I’m thinking of dumping Siri for her.

  11. J-Dotson says:

    I think everyone has experienced this before, and in the exact same sequence etc. I wonder sometimes if there is even a real person working any more at phone companies…

  12. Gruhn says:

    Well luckily they train these operators to give an unfeeling “Sorry about that, how can I help you?”

  13. Bo Lumpkim says:

    My problem is that I only have a Blackberry phone and I can hardly see those numbers on the keypad so I have to start all over about three times. I don’t call customer services much.

  14. A.M.Frasier says:

    This is a very true problem

  15. I just hit ‘0’, over and over again. I refuse to be sucked in.

  16. G.B. Miller says:

    I had one bad phone call with AT&T recently over the fact that they didn’t credit a payment to my mother’s account.

    I have semi-control over my mother’s finances, and the irritating part about that is if I have to contact a company over an issue, I can’t do it from work, I have to do it from home in order for my mother to be in the same room so that she can give permmission to talk to them.

    Anyways, during the course of the original call, not only did my mother have to go through the entire spiel to give permission for AT&T to talk to me, but she had to do it again when customer service transferred me over to another department.

    And, to add insult to injury, the person I got connected to got snotty over the issue.

    • Bearman says:

      Most companies if you know the SS# of the primary account holder or their password will allow you to speak for the primary customer.

      Frustrating I am sure.

  17. Hahaha… TRUE!
    Maybe they’re trying to reduce the volume of ‘remaining callers’!

  18. planetross says:

    I’ve applied for a few Japanese Visa cards … so I can get a discount on the highway tolls, but when I get rejected and have a friend phone the company for the reason (because there is no English speakers), they just tell him they can’t tell the reason because he’s not the person who applied. Aaaarrrghh!

  19. bschooled says:

    This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I actually refused to pay my phone bill once because I couldn’t get through to an agent regarding a discrepancy I had with the charges. I figured I’d wait until they contacted me.

    Even though I ended up paying interest and my credit was flagged, I feel like it was worth it.

  20. Maybe it’s a test of will… Those who can repeat the number are deemed worthy of their attention!

    • Bearman says:

      Well if I find it then I have it written on the bill. I can’t even remember my bank account number, you think I will remember a customer number?

  21. Bo Lumpkim says:

    “You have done well my little grasshopper. You have made it through the mystical maze and are now entitled to wait on line for a live operator.” Kung
    Fu. It is a learning experience.

  22. buddhakat says:

    Oh so very very very very VERY TRUE!!!


  23. frigginloon says:

    consultant consultant ConsulTANT CONSULTANT !!!!!!!! OMG, then finally you get put through to India. 😯 $#%^&*()_

  24. Mike W says:

    It’s the ones that force you to talk to a machine that can’t understand your voice that tick me off. I asked the AT&T CS rep the other day that if a major communication company’s machine can’t understand me, how could I expect the people to.

  25. lisleman says:

    This aggravation is probably only second to the dislike for Congress.
    I started a FB group 2 years (? don’t remember exactly) ago for people that hate music on-hold. It’s never the music I want to hear.

  26. Ugh, the worst. You be on the line with multiple reps and on hold forever and then *click* you’re disconnected.

  27. DadaHyena says:

    You’ll find Jimmy Hoffa before you find your party.

  28. Jande says:

    My experience is a bit like George’s: I speak garbled garbage until I get a real person on the line. :`D

  29. OMG I hate that. There is nothing more annoying, I think they should come out with a personal ID number that isn’t your social security that can link all your accounts. Wouldn’t that be nice, to only have one account number to remember.

  30. Mark Stokes says:

    A teensy slice of Hell on Earth.

  31. Gray Dawster says:

    All those customer service robots are programmed to irritate the sh*t out of everyone that calls them, and they not only hit you for a large sum whilst playing ghastly tunes on their intercom-robo-whacko systems but they also don’t know what the hell they are talking about when you do manage to get a live one… Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr bloody hopeless lot 🙁 Can you tell that I really like these dim witted oafs? 🙂 lmao Brilliant cartoon Bearman


  1. […] Cartoons has a pretty succinct example of the kind of thing I’m talking about, in his cartoon Customer Service Phone Trees. But that’s just one example, and seeing from the comments it engendered, we are not alone in […]

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