Phone Shortcuts

Reporter:Helen Wellings

Good service is all about getting through to a company very quickly, being answered by a human being and not having to press through all the buttons, and talking to someone who is genuinely interested

Computerized voice response systems telling you to choose from a barrage of options, and then put you on hold... they've become one the biggest consumer gripes ever.

They're not just infuriating; these phone robots can cost customers a bomb. Soon we show you an easy cheap shortcut... how to quickly cut through the system and save heaps of money.

Paul Budde says “It's very expensive waiting for those options if you have a mobile. Today 40% of consumers don't have landlines they rely on mobile phones”

Telecommunications expert, Paul Budde, says most companies believed computer voice prompts would be economical, but now many realise these systems are costing them customers. “We rate them on how long it takes to get thru to a real person and then once you get talking to that person we rate the actual quality of the interaction, their phone manner, their product knowledge ...”

Paul van Veenendaal runs Customer Service Benchmarking, which measures telephone efficiency of companies around Australia. His mystery callers ring each organisation 100 times - 10 times over 10 weeks - to test their phone service and how long they keep us waiting. “Oh oh the number ... he's saying you've keyed in the wrong number, please try again” His survey last year found many major companies are not up to the mark - ISPs and airlines are slowest by far, they take 2 minutes on average just to pick up the phone.

So here are the shortcuts to save you lots of time and money. After you've dialled the company's customer service number, as soon as the voice prompts start ring these simple numbers to get a real person.

  • ANZ Bank 00000,
  • Bank West 00000#
  • Aussie Home Loans and Suncorp 0000
  • Commonwealth Bank and RAMS Home Loans 000
  • Citybank and Esanda 00
  • 0 for Bendigo Bank, ING Direct, Wizard Home Loans, Westpac and Woolworths Ezy Banking
  • National Australia Bank ###
  • St George Bank - just say 'Everyday Banking' and you're through to a human voice!