Why I Hate Pre-Recorded Telephone Menus

There is little doubt that advancements in technology have benefited mankind in many ways. However, there is also a downside to some of these technological innovations and the one I hate most is the awful automated, pre-recorded telephone answering menus.

Reasons I Hate Pre-Recorded Telephone Menus

First off, you are subjected to an overly long preamble with the recorded voice prattling on and on about nothing important and totally uninterruptable. I wish they would cut back on the spiel and just get to the point.

It doesn’t matter what company or organization you are calling, once the overly verbose opening spiel has mercifully ended, the next statement from the pre-recorded voice goes something along the lines of… we are experiencing a heavier than normal number of calls.

No, you’re not! The number of calls is normal, otherwise, I wouldn’t be hearing that exact same message and having to hang on the line for 30 minutes or so every time I call. What you don’t have is enough operators to deal with the volume of normal calls.

Finally, you get through to the options part… press 1 for this, press 2 for that, and so on. You sit there through all the options and, in the end, none of them cover the reason why you are calling. So, out of sheer desperation, you press any darn number just so you can get to speak to a human.

Call Center

Half an hour or so later, a human voice finally comes on the line but, once you explain why you are calling, the voice tells you that’s not their department and they’ll transfer you to the correct person. You wait a further 10- 15 minutes and then hear the dreaded beeps signifying that the call has been disconnected.

Now it’s decision time – do you put yourself through that excruciating experience again right away or kick back with a beer and chill. I invariably opt for the latter.

The problem is, sometimes these phone calls are about a critical/important matter and the frustration of not being able to get through to resolve the issue increases with each failed attempt. Finally, if/when you do manage to get through to the correct person, your demeanor is often less than cordial. In those cases, the same thought runs through my head… don’t shoot the messenger… as I try to calm my frustration.

Do you have a dislike of a particular technological innovation? Let us know in the comments.

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17 thoughts on “Why I Hate Pre-Recorded Telephone Menus”

  1. I know how you feel mate, every time I call Centrelink here in Australia. I would rather go to the dentist and have them pull my teeth out without a local anesthetic instead. Dealing with pre-recorded phone menus is bad enough as is, it is even worst with a speech impediment.

  2. I can respect a heavy call period and am appreciative when they give you a call-back option and actually do!

  3. On top of all of the above, I find that too many organisations that set up these answering mechanisms add a piece of holding music which is invariably set so loud that it is completely distorted, making the whole experience even more unnecessarily painful. My favourite football club has three popular songs rotating as holding music. By the time you have heard all three ten times on ones call, you start to really hate those songs.

    1. Great point Simon. Somehow, I’d forgotten about the overly loud background music one often has to endure while waiting, very annoying.

      Thanks for your comment, appreciated.

  4. Elliott W. Carmack

    You “hit the nail on the head”! My experience here in the USA is like this: Long prelude speech; menu one *enter a number”; which takes me to second menu to enter another number; which (sometimes) takes me to a third menu to enter another number; then long, loud “elevator music”‘, which eventually either takes me to the wrong department or disconnects me! By the time I finally (if ever) get to speak with a real, live person in the correct department, I frequently do not get a correct response to my inquiry. Frequently, I am told that someone will call me back later that day or the next day but no one does!

    1. Frequently, I am told that someone will call me back later that day or the next day but no one does!

      Yep, it’s the same here Elliott. A few weeks ago my wife was trying to talk to someone at our bank. Three days in a row she was told someone would call her back, we’re still waiting.

  5. You folks are lucky to receive recorded messages in just one language. Here in la-la-land, where French is the Official language, you are greeted in French first, then English. Press 1 for French, 9 (typically) for English. Then you receive the message prompting you to select more menus in your selected language. But while you are waiting, the systems switch back to French messages.
    But, sometimes pressing 0 is accepted, though not mentioned, and you might here a real person, Mindblower!

  6. Ah Jim right on there Mate. I am sure this is a deliberate plot to lower our expecations and a portent for the future of “…now wear your mask and take your shot like a good citizen because now we’ve abolished cash – we may or may not let you use your credit card to buy groceries this week”.

    The other day I tried to get through to speak to a human in Australia Post about a customs issue sending a parcel overseas. I swear they have had a team design the most difficult system possible to stop you talking to anyone. One false button press and they’ll gleefully send you through to one of the many myriad recorded announcements that will not give you the information you want and then leave you with no way to get back to another try without redialling and repeat. You end up trying to work out if the option they are offering could possibly be answered by a recorded message or not and choose the one most likely to require human intervention. It used to be that you could just stay silent and eventually the system would give up waiting for you to select a key and then put you through to a human but many organisations have now cottoned on to that and you’ll get a “we haven’t been able to get any response from you so please try again later” and you are promptly disconnected.

    I have found with the online chatbots you can still often get away with typing “human” to any question it asks and it will then give up and connect you to a person assuming they do have such an animal lurking in a basement somewhere. Not sure how much longer that will work but I’ll take it for now.


    1. I’m hearing you mate. I used to speak gobbledygook at 100 miles an hour and eventually I’d get put through to a human. Now, the only response from the recorded voice to that tactic is something like… “I didn’t quite catch that”.

      Some years back I needed to contact the department of immigration and their system is all pre-recorded messages, it’s impossible to speak to a human.

      Cheers mate.. Jim

  7. P.S.
    Thought I’d admit that with every email notification from Dave’s Computer Tips I always play my game of “Which of these Topics Did Jim Hillier Write ?”. I have a pretty high success rate so far haha 🙂 !!!

  8. Elliott W. Carmack

    Here’s another issue: When I have trouble connecting to an online account, typically of a utility company or online merchant regarding issues with their website, I then try to contact their customer service or support department by telephone. While going through the issues described in the above posts, I am usually greeted by a recorded message advising me to use their website instead of waiting on the telephone for a human!

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