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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder


When it comes to a battle with Xfinity or AT&T, Apple, Microsoft--any gigantic corporation--well, it's game on. You ain't getting me off my duff until I get what I need or when I'm so exasperated that I need to unstick myself from my office chair and scream, complain to anyone who will listen (make that my husband).

Earlier this week, I picked up the phone, got a dial tone, and plugged in a number. No problem. But then I noticed that I hadn't received any emails or phone messages for at least a day. Something was off. I picked up my cell and called our landline. It went right to "Hi, you've reached . . ." Our phone wasn't working. Now we could have--probably should have--dumped our landline a long time ago. But, I don't know, there's a level of comfort with two phones. Besides, I can never find my cell when I need it.

You know the drill. I called the 800 Xfinity customer service number. I knew this event would try my patience like a baby who won't stop crying, no matter all the hugging, walking, burping, diaper changing. Xfinity didn't disappoint. Getting to a live person was impossible. Actually, it was even more complicated than usual because for some reason I'll never understand there were two numbers listed on our account, one of which I'd never heard of. I must have pressed "0" a hundred times and yelled "Operator, Operator" just as many.

Then I was put on the proverbial hold, not before being asked what kind of music I preferred. I chose classical, thinking it would be the most soothing. Wrong! It was opera. I hate opera! It pains me to say that because I feel slightly less cultured. Still, I hate opera. And there I was, listening to some diva wailing away like a cow in mourning.

"If you would prefer to have us call you back, you won't lose your place in line." Losing my mind was enough for one day, so I recorded my phone number after the beat (Wait a minute, I couldn't use either of the numbers I had on file and, at the last moment, sputtered out my cell phone number.)

And I waited. And waited. And waited some more. The return call never came. There I was back to Square One. I'd spent almost an hour of my time with absolutely nothing to show for it.

I kept thinking that there should be a separate phone number for seniors like there are designated hours for those of us 65+ to shop the empty aisles of grocery stores during this Pandemic. We're the ones most susceptible to catching the virus and we are the most susceptible to wrenching our backs and stretching thin our patience when waiting for a live human when there's an issue with our phone, an appliance, an Amazon order.

On and on, it went. I finally reached someone one step up the food chain from a bot. Okay, he was what's called a man, but don't let the categorization fool you. I could barely understand him, his English clearly a second language, and when he didn't get that I could hang up my cell phone and he could call me back, I wished I'd stuck with a chat. He was useless. Not only was he useless but incompetent to boot. By the end of the call, I couldn't dial out, either. Our landline was dead.

Desperate, at the end of my patience, I searched online for any link that wrote about tricks to get through to one of these mammoth companies that could care less about you and your problems. Voila!

Dial A Human

Magic. The tricks in this article saved my life. Well, okay, that's a bit dramatic but, in truth, it prevented me from smashing my phone and ripping out the Comcast cable. Wonder of wonders, I reached a customer service person on the second or third ring. I was so startled that I almost hung up, certain that I'd dialed the wrong number. After asking for a minute to read notes that the other fool had taken, this super-duper customer service representative immediately scheduled a technician set to arrive the following day. Could I send him a cologne or feature him in a Facebook post? No, that wouldn't be necessary or possible.

I stood up, rubbed my rock-solid neck and shoulder muscles, bent over in a forward bend, and then sat on the floor and, with my legs split and splayed in front of me, leaned to the right over my right leg, then to the left over my left leg. Still, I needed a stiff drink.

This fiasco from start to finish took well over two hours, maybe more. The afternoon had turned to dusk, my husband had run six miles and returned home, I'd missed eating dinner.

A first draft of a TV ad:

Shot of a senior woman sitting at her desk with phone in hand, looking frustrated

Voiceover: Are you like this woman? Frustrated because your phone has died and you need to reach an Xfinity customer service representative?

Shot of same woman pulling at her hair.

Woman: I can't take this!

Voiceover: You don't have to take this. You don't have to ruin your day because your phone is out of service.

Photo: Woman looks up, a quizzical expression on her face. Hopeful.

Woman's voice: Really?

Voiceover: Just sign on to "Dial a Human" for the tricks you can use to, yes, reach a human at Xfinity or any of the other big company like Apple, Chase, ComEd . . . That's "Dial a Human" at That's "Dial a Human" at

Video: Same woman hanging up the phone, smiling broadly, getting up from her office chair.

Woman's voice: I called "Dial A Human", reached a live person in a matter of seconds, and a technician is scheduled for tomorrow. Now I have the time to do the things I love.

Video: Woman on the tennis court, hitting an ace.


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