How to Deal and Cope with Bureaucracies, Both Agencies and Companies When Using the Phone

This page has to do with bureaucracy  phone situations, both being put on hold forever and accomplishing your goal when a real human finally responds.

Do you have to deal with bureaucracy often? This can be city, county, state, federal, or other various government related agencies. Then there are private sector insurance companies, internet service providers, medical, and many other companies one may be required to deal with on a regular basis.



The speakerphone is the main key. One simply turns the thing on and then goes about their business while waiting for a human. My longest wait so far has been over 45 minutes. I was amazed at the amount of work I got done during that time. Needless to say, this described procedure will not be appreciated by the cell phone battery and/or will wreak havoc on any time-measured service plan you may be using.

If you have to routinely deal with these kinds of bureaucratic calls all the time, then a Lifeline phone service plan is your best bet, preferably landline; it is amazing how many people qualify for this discount. With a landline, you may even be able to tie in a DSL or broadband internet service plan along with it at an amazingly low price. Lifeline is a measured service. For landline, mine is measured by number of calls, as opposed to length of calls. For both landline or cell phone, make sure yours is the same; for  cell phone, that may not be that easy. Many people have both a landline and cell phone. With the single allowable Lifeline discount being used for the landline, the additional cost is negligible.

Whatever your phone and billing plan situation is, all of the following information still applies.


Have a blank sheet of paper and pen ready before making the call. Try to write down all your thoughts and questions before making the call. In fact, you will even think of more thoughts and questions to write down after you have made the call and are waiting for that elusive human.


When a human finally answers, get their name. Then explain your situation and begin going though your questions and thoughts list. Be sure to check off each thought as you mention them. Be sure to write down the answers to the questions you've asked. Be sure to write down the inevitable new thoughts, questions and answers that come to mind during the conversation. If a future appointment date and time is involved, repeat the date and time back to them so as to confirm it.

Calculator optional

Some Closing Thoughts

Most people just pick up the phone and try to wing it. Please don't do that. Invariably they remember after the call that they forgot to volunteer an important piece of information or to ask a crucial question.

Good Luck! It Can Be Done!

And as a side note, don't even try contacting bureaucracies on Mondays. Fridays may not be that good of an idea either.

And another side note. If you end up in a situation where you are repeatedly being transferred all over the planet: get the name, job function, phone number and extension of each person along the way. Especially note who ends up being the go-to person to contact and their number and/or extension for future calls regarding the current problem.

Did you mail anything to the agency or post a requested document to their website? Always, and I do mean always, be sure to call them in a week to confirm that they received it and to confirm there are no additional problems.

1 comment:

  1. Well said! IMO, the most frustrating of these situations occurs when whatever corporation has decided to "outsource" its so-called customer service department overseas, and you end up with someone who can barely speak English, and you have the devil of a time trying to make them understand the problem! This is obviously not nearly as big an issue when dealing with government bureaucracies, but it sure is a problem with corporations!

    Worst of all, is they are just reading from a script, and nothing they say is applicable to the situation. Try to ask for a supervisor. Sometimes that works, many times, you will be told that the supervisor is (conveniently) "not available." Grrr..