Photo: via the BBC
Please press one now if you're a little sick of automated phone menus.
Anyone who's called a government department, cable company or big bank in the last few decades has encountered it: that pre-recorded voice offering a seemingly endless range of numbered options, which usually leads to another level, where you're forced to go through the whole process again.
Now, a retired IT manager from Kent in the UK is trying to help.
Nigel Clarke has launched www.PleasePress1.com in order to "Save time, money and frustration!" (the website's exclamation point). He's listed call centre menu sequences for thousands of services.
Instead of being forced to listen to a tedious list of menu options, users can press ahead and go directly to where they want to be using the site's resources.
"Why don't companies make life easy for their customers and simply show me the menu options before I call so I know what numbers to press to get through much more quickly?" the site asks.
The site also informs you how much time you'll save by using the service and bypassing the main menu at different companies.
At one major insurance company, for instance, you can save 90 seconds of precious time by using the site's services to access motorcycle insurance.
There are also some quirky caveats, like "WARNING - WAIT FOR THE INTRO: We found an introduction message that is about 8 seconds long which you must listen to and cannot Press Ahead until you hear the menu options start."
The site also includes a star rating for how well the system is designed and how many options and levels there are.
Clarke says he started the project due to a combination of personal frustration and surprise at the "emotional response" he got from people whenever he mentioned automated phone mazes.
Clarke tells the Guardian, "some might say this is the modern equivalent of Dante's circles of hell."
He said www.pleasepress1.com was a "labour of love" which he built using Skype and recording software after seven years of creating post-it notes of sequences he used regularly.
In a BBC report Mr. Clarke says he discovered that some automated menus have a time-wasting 80 (!) options.
"In an ideal world, companies should just offer different phone numbers for different services," Clarke says.
However, he says that no menu is best unless it's designed properly:
"I think two levels maximum is ideal. Some stretch to three. You don't really want much more than that."
To return to the main menu, press two.
Via The Guardian