Customer service heaven.

Customer service heaven.

Customer service heaven.

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Sept. 21 2005 6:40 PM

Customer Service Heaven

An occasional series ferreting out hard-to-find phone numbers.

As I have explained before (here and here), my bid for immortality is that, two years ago, I found and published the customer service phone number for Amazon.com, which Amazon was not much interested in sharing with its, ahem, customers. That number is

1-800-201-7575.

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More recently, responding to a distress call from my sister Patsy, I tried and failed to ferret out a customer service number for iTunes. Like the Fountain of Youth, the perpetual-motion machine, and TheAutobiography of Howard Hughes, the iTunes customer service number (which, in fairness, iTunes never claimed to possess) is something that exists only as a cruel hoax. I searched and searched and searched, and finally had to conclude that the real thing didn't exist. I felt dejected. I grew a three-day stubble and knocked back shots of Jack Daniel's at the corner bar while my children ran barefoot in rags through the streets. I grabbed the lapels of strangers, drew their faces a little too near my foul-smelling breath, and shouted, I used to be somebody! The Nobel committee was considering me for the Peace Prize! Beautiful Hollywood ingénues gave me their cell phone numbers! Don't look away!

In short, I felt let down.

Today, though, a friend and former colleague bucked up my spirits by passing along the URL for a Web site with the delightful name, "Find-A-Human." It lists banks, cell phone companies, manufacturers of personal computers, stores, airlines, etc., alongside phone numbers and instructions to get a real person on the phone immediately! For example, if you want to talk to a human being at US Airways and you don't want to go through a series of automated menu options to get there, you dial 800-428-4322, then hit 4 after the initial greeting, then hit 1.

Except … I tried that and it didn't work. "Our menu options have changed," said the recorded voice, with just the faintest hint of malice. I couldn't get through using the instructions for American Express, either. Or for Gateway. Maybe you can find some that work. For me, it's back to the bottle.

[Update, Sept. 22: I'm told the instructions for Bell South work like a charm. Apologies, incidentally, to reader Marc Naimark, who apparently flagged "Fine-A-Human" to me a week before my friend did.]