For many people, calling an automated phone system (normally to resolve something that is broken or costing you too much money) is a form of torture.
But now, a group of people on the internet have found a way of completely bypassing the automated robot menus and getting straight to a human who you can talk to.
The expletive trick was first pointed out on Twitter by The Verge editor Casey Newton, who had called the hotline for US pharmacy Walgreens and was annoyed by a long advert at the start of his call.
Newton says that he shouted ‘fuck off’ and was instantly redirected.
After publicising his winning result, he was flooded with responses from other people saying this had worked for them in several instances.
And even got them removed from telemarketing databases.
Newton also had a response from another user, Anne, who said that her friend was the brains behind the genius technology that allowed this to happen.
Anne confirmed the tech was patented in 1977 by inventors Peter Bohacek and Dieter Schulz in the USA.
The pair created the system that can analyse any caller’s response against a set of predetermined criteria, allowing companies to identify callers who are displaying certain characteristics such as anger.
E.g. They are fuming about your service and about to leave you for your rivals.
Instead of ignoring these angry customers and hoping they go away, Bohacek and Schulz argued it is important that such calls are handled to prevent loss of future business.
They said: “The problem with existing systems is that while many calls are mundane, such as simple technical queries, and can be handled by semi-skilled operators, some calls, for example from irate customers with complaints, require handling by specially trained operators.”
So once you swear on the phone, and the voice recognition realises you aren’t happy, they immediately connect you to a specially-trained employee.
She also said that saying ‘agent’ or operator’ will have the same effect (in case you don’t feel like swearing loudly in public or risking offending someone on the other end of the line).
The only problem is, as the patent was recorded in the USA, this trick doesn’t seem to work in the UK at the moment.
We also tried calling BT, Scottish Power, and Hammersmith and Fulham Council, and none of their systems worked with this shortcut.
Come on phone gods, make it happen for us?