Adrift in the Ether
New consumer-advocacy project keeps online customers plugged in
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 (www.paulenglish.com/ivr) 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: GetHuman.com. 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.
ONLINE RETAILAmazon.com 800/201-7575 or 206/266-2992
CD Universe 800/231-7937 or 203/294-1648
eBay 888/749-3229 or 800/322-9266
Half.com (an eBay company) 800/545-9857
Home Shopping Network 800/284-3900 (phone orders) or 800/933-2887 (online orders)
JR.com 800/221-8180 or 800/426-6027
Overstock.com 800/843-2446 or 800/989-0135
Target Online 800/591-3869
TECHApple 800/676-2775 (customer service) or 800/275-2273 (tech support)
Dell.com 800/624-9897 (customer service) or 800/624-9896, 888/560-8324 (tech support)
Gateway.com 800/846-2000 or 858/799-3459
IBM.com 800/426-4968 (IBM-4YOU)
Sony.com 800/222-7669 (when prompted, say, "agent")
TRAVELCheap Tickets 800/755-4333
Cheap Trips 800/211-5119
Orbitz Inc. 312/894-5000 or 888/656-4546
FedEx 888/GO-FEDEX (at message, say, "representative")
UPS 800/PICK-UPS (hit 0 twice to reach a human)