Adrift in the Ether

New consumer-advocacy project keeps online customers plugged in

Adrift in the Ether

According to a recent poll conducted by Austin-based Newgistics and Harris Interactive, "48% of respondents plan on shopping online this holiday season. 93% of adults say that a convenient return policy and process is very important, important or somewhat important when deciding where to purchase a gift for someone else. And 80% are not likely to shop again with a direct retailer if the return process is inconvenient."

Since this time last year – the first time we reported on those feisty online agitators intent on tracking down the elusive phone numbers of an array of online retailers and services – the motley assortment of resources has erupted into a full-blown consumer movement.

Boston-based entrepreneur Paul English – whose scrappy blog ( became the holy grail of customer service hotlines – has, along with an intrepid crew of Internet activists, expanded the operation into its own distinct Web presence: The site features a database of online retail phone info, as well as lists of main corporate and government customer service offices, including specific instructions detailing how to reach a real, live human and navigate the byzantine maze of so-called IVR or Interactive Voice Response systems, the most frustrating developments in customer service since the blister pack.

Enjoy this summary of valuable info (we hope you don't need it), and do explore the Get Human site for greater details and more listings.

Happy clicking.

ONLINE RETAIL 800/201-7575 or 206/266-2992 800/843-2665 877/780-2464

CD Universe 800/231-7937 or 203/294-1648

eBay 888/749-3229 or 800/322-9266 (an eBay company) 800/545-9857

Home Shopping Network 800/284-3900 (phone orders) or 800/933-2887 (online orders) 800/434-IKEA 800/221-8180 or 800/426-6027

Napster 800/839-4210

Netflix 888/638-3549 800/843-2446 or 800/989-0135 888/221-1161

QVC 800/367-9444

Target Online 800/591-3869


Apple 800/676-2775 (customer service) or 800/275-2273 (tech support)

Compaq 800/652-6672 800/624-9897 (customer service) or 800/624-9896, 888/560-8324 (tech support)

Epson 800/922-8911 800/846-2000 or 858/799-3459

Hewlett-Packard 800/474-6836 800/426-4968 (IBM-4YOU)

Microsoft 800/936-5700

Palm 800/881-7256 800/222-7669 (when prompted, say, "agent")

Xerox 800/822-2979


Cheap Tickets 800/755-4333

Cheap Trips 800/211-5119 800/397-3342 800/346-8357

Hotwire 866/468-9473

Orbitz Inc. 312/894-5000 or 888/656-4546

Priceline 800/774-2354 888/TRAVELO


DHL 800/225-5345

FedEx 888/GO-FEDEX (at message, say, "representative")

UPS 800/PICK-UPS (hit 0 twice to reach a human)

USPS 800/275-8777


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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY, Paul English, customer-service numbers

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