When was the last time you called a company and talked to a real live person before first wandering through a labyrinth of voice-mail hell? All the while, being told that your call is important, then being pitched 15 minutes of ad copy while waiting for someone to pick up?
The web site gethuman.com was designed to help you with this problem. It lists hundreds of companies and the code to punch in that will take you to a real, live human being. For example, when calling Blue Cross and Blue Shield, saying the word "associate" at the prompt bypasses the computer menu. At Kitchenaid, 3420 does the job, as does #### for MetLife.
The site also has suggestions to try for bypassing phone tree hell when you don't know the code. To wit:
Interrupt by pressing 0 repeatedly
Talk: Say "get human" or mumble
Pretend you have a rotary phone by not responding to the prompt to press a key
Select "Spanish" even if you don't speak it -- the queue is often shorter and the customer service rep will be bilingual
Once connected, ask how you can access people directly next time, then add it to the gethuman database.