As featured in The Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and more!

To Speak To An Operator, Press §

This article was written by in Consumer. 5 comments.


This is old news to many including me, but I heard a segment on the television news tonight about this helpful tool. It is worth spreading the information for those who haven’t heard about it.

I can’t say that I’ve been flustered while navigating interactive voice response (IVR) systems. I do get frustrated when I am placed on hold for a long time, waiting for an operator.

There are certain times I need to bypass even a straightforward IVR to speak to an operator or agent about something out of the ordinary, like when my first Roth IRA withdrawal for the year didn’t take place. In a case like this, with IVR systems designed to keep a caller from reaching a live individual, this tool comes in handy:

The IVR Cheat Sheet™ by Paul English lists companies, categorized by type of organization (finance, retail, etc.), with a corresponding secret code which, when pressed on the keypad or spoken, initates a transfer to an operator. You may still have to wait before they pick up the phone, but at least you know you’ll get there. It’s the grown-up variation of U-U-D-D-L-R-L-R-B-A-B-A-Select-Start.

Keep the IVR Cheat Sheet close to your phone whenever you need to deal with customer service.

Updated February 6, 2012 and originally published January 9, 2006. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

Email Email Print Print
About the author

Luke Landes is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about Luke Landes and follow him on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Diane

Thanks so much for posting this. Sometimes I hate calling the companies that I have accounts with because of the annoying prompts. This will definitely be a big help. I have already printed out the list and plan to make a copy for my friends and family. I am putting my copies in my planner, and next to my phone.

Reply to this comment

avatar Dus10

It is hilarious how ubiquitous the cheat code for Contra has become. I mention the code in some arbitraty meeting, and I was surprised at how many people knew exactly what I was talking about.

Reply to this comment

avatar bored

lol, i tried the code and the next thing i knew i was spitting fireballs!
***power up!***

Reply to this comment

avatar Caitlin

so does that code unlock some special camo in metal gear solid or something? ;)

Reply to this comment

avatar Caitlin

oh! contra…that’ll teach me to read comments first…

Reply to this comment

Leave a Comment

Note: Use your name or a unique handle, not the name of a website or business. No deep links or business URLs are allowed. Spam, including promotional linking to a company website, will be deleted. By submitting your comment you are agreeing to these terms and conditions.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.