It is a true bane of modern life, a process seemingly designed to inspire seething outrage and intense frustration. But now automated call centre fury could be a thing of the past.
After making 12,000 calls to centres over a period of seven years Nigel Clarke, of Fawkham, Kent, has painstakingly catalogued the labyrinthine phone menus of hundreds of multinational companies.
His guide at www.pleasepress1.com, lists the phone menus of 130 leading companies, some of which have an astonishing 80 options available.
Mr Clarke, who describes the call centre menu options as the “modern equivalent of Dante’s circles of Hell”, was inspired to begin the guide after becoming frustrated with waiting 'what seemed like hours' to get through to phone menus only to end up at the wrong place and have to redial again.
Writing on the website he says: "Why don't companies make life easy for their customers and simply show me the menu options before I call so I know what numbers to press to get through much more quickly?"
"I realised I could often save a minute or two at least per call. That soon adds up in time and money with all the calls I make each year."
According to Mr Clarke, 53, Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs is apparently one of the worst call centre menu offenders with callers taking a taxing six minutes to reach the correct department.
It is claimed that the Revenue takes 79 million calls a year, which translates into a staggering 4.3 million frustrating working hours just navigating menus.
Other offenders include Direct Line Insurance’s business customer service which has a startling 107 options over three menu levels.
While researching call centres Mr Clarke discovered that two thirds of the places he contacted used advertising or introductions between options on calls.