Being kept on hold to a call centre is not only incredibly frustrating – it can also be incredibly expensive! Discover how to skip call centre queues - saving you both time and money.
It’s bad enough having to ring a call centre in the first place – as it usually means something's gone wrong.
To add insult to injury, many companies have the cheek to make money out of customers who are experiencing problems with their products by making them ring premium rate helplines.
We show you how to cut the cost of ringing call centres, and how to get through quicker with these call centre shortcuts.
1. Cut the cost of ringing call centres
Many call centres use 0870 or 0845 numbers which cost up to 11p a minute. What’s more, you’ll probably have to pay a standard call set-up fee as well (anything between 2-11p, depending on your phone provider).
Luckily, you can often avoid these charges if you’re savvy.
A lot of companies have geographic numbers (that begin 01, 02, 03) that are much cheaper than 0870 and 0845 numbers, but put you through to the same place.
Check out the excellent website Saynoto0870.com, which has a searchable database of these cheaper helpline numbers you can call.
Always check to see whether there's a cheaper alternative number to call
Just enter the name of the company you’re trying to contact in the search box and see if it can find you a cheaper number – it’s quite comprehensive so it’s always worth checking.
There are also apps which do a similar job if you need to ring a helpline from your mobile:
- 0870 (iPhone, 69p)
But our favourite app lets you skip call centre queues completely – see our last tip for more information.
2. Call the sales number or head office
Unsurprisingly, you tend to get through to a company a lot quicker if they think you’re interested in buying something from them. Call the sales number and you’re normally put through to a saleperson in double quick time. When you’re through, just ask them to put you through to the department you need – you normally get transferred without having to go through the hell of the call centre menu.
Another option is to call head office, as many companies have this number listed on their website. Again you can often get transferred straight through to the department you need by taking this shortcut.
3. Call from overseas
Not literally, of course. If you’re having trouble getting through to a company helpdesk, look for the company’s ‘calling from overseas’ or ‘calling from abroad’ number. You can call that number from the UK and it will be significantly less busy than the main helpline number.
4. Call at the right time
Call centre helplines tend to be busiest first thing in the morning, at lunchtime and from 5pm onwards. If you can, try calling mid-morning or around 4pm.
5. Try email…
If your query can wait a couple of days, emailing the company is a cheaper and less stressful way to get an answer to your query.
However, email doesn’t tend to be suited to complicated problems (so if you’re having problems with your PC or internet connection, you’ll probably save time by speaking to someone in person).
Avoid ringing call centres at their peak times if possible
6. …or web-chatting
Many companies increasingly have online advisers you can chat to in real time online. It’s both cheaper and quicker than calling a helpline (if you don’t mind the constant typing.)
7. Try these phone queue cheats
If you’re stuck in phone queue hell - listening to endless Muzak and constantly being told that your call is very important to the company – there are some phone queue ‘cheats’ that often get you straight to a human assistant.
Try the following call centre cheat codes:
- Press ‘0’ and ‘#’ in quick succession
- Press ‘0’ as soon as you hear the robo-voice (this connects you to a real person straightaway with some - but unfortunately not all - automated phone systems).
- Don’t say or press anything (lots of automated call systems are designed to ensure all calls get connected – so if you don’t select any of the options, some systems assume you don’t have a touch tone phone and put you straight through to an operator).
8. Fast forward past the menu options
Social media can be an effective way to get a response
The website pleasepress1.com has put together a fully searchable database of UK companies’ automated menu options.
Just look up the company you need, and it’ll tell you exactly which buttons you need to press to get through to the department you're after – so you don’t need to sit listening to all the endless menu options. Good for saving both time and money.
9. Use social media to get an answer
If you’re having trouble getting your query answered, it’s worth Tweeting the company or writing on their Facebook page. Companies tend to respond fast to queries on social media (as if you talk about a problem you’re having with a company on Facebook or Twitter, potentially thousands of people can see it…)
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10. Save money AND skip call centre queues
Save money and time with the brilliant free app WeQ4U (available for both iPhone and Android).
It’s one of our favourite money-saving apps. Here’s why:
- It lets you call ALL 0800, 0808, 0500, 0870 numbers for free
- It lets you call MOST 0845, 0844, 0843, 0871, and 0872 numbers for free
- If you’re put in a call centre queue, the app allows you to hang up – without losing your place in the queue. Then, when the company eventually answers, the app automatically calls your phone - and you get straight through to a human being without having to hang around on the phone.
Have you had a call centre nightmare? Or got a call centre tip that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know by commenting below!