Telephone Operators of the World, Rejoice
BY Max Chafkin
Thanks to Paul English, whose crusade against automated phone systems is still going strong, it's a great time to be in the call center business. Since I wrote about English's quest to help consumers connect with live operators in Inc.'s February issue, the Kayak.com founder has broadened his message and created, in his spare time, what could be the beginning of a full-fledged consumer rights movement. Last month, English launched a new advocacy site, Gethuman.com. The site includes English's growing list of 800-number shortcuts and will eventually publish rankings of the best and worst consumer companies based on the quality of their telephone customer service.
Meanwhile, Citigroup's new "Simplicity" ad campaign features a TV spot in which a competitor's automated phone system frustrates a caller and causes a grease fire. One of the campaign's taglines, "Press 0," seems at least partly inspired by English's efforts.
Perhaps an even greater indication that people are paying attention: tomorrow will mark English's second appearance on the Today show. Tune in around 8am for a live interview with Katie Couric.
Last updated: Mar 14, 2006
Senior contributing writer MAX CHAFKIN has profiled companies such as Yelp, Zappos, Twitter,
Threadless, and Tesla for the magazine. He lives in Brooklyn, New York. @chafkin