News

Maricopa County Departments Phone Menus: Press "O" and They Hang Up on You


When a corporation or government office truly cares about the people who call, it will put a nice, little feature on its automated telephone menus in which -- if you really gotta talk to a live human being -- you can press zero to get a front-desk receptionist.

If said offices don't give two squirts of javelina urine for the common folk, it won't allow them to reach an operator, instead letting them wallow in "If you need X, Press Y" hell.

But if the office actually holds disdain for the public, if it honestly disrespects and maybe even hates the people who call in, it does what some Maricopa County departments do:

It programs its phones to hang up on you if you press "O."
 

A few departments at Maricopa County treat callers with dignity by allowing access to an operator, like the Recorder's Office and Planning and Development.

Others, like Human Resources, ask you to "enter another extension" if you hit zero, as if you hit zero by mistake. But they know it's not a mistake -- they just can't be bothered to answer your call. And they probably hope you'll just give up since you don't know the extension you need and you can't reach an operator.

The worst departments for callers are Health Care, Air Quality, Flood Control and Environmental Services. Hit zero when you hear the automated menu here and you'll get, "We're sorry. Zero is an invalid option. Goodbye."

Then you hear the click. There are no second chances -- they aren't kidding about the "goodbye."

It seems like they're screwing us on purpose, like they want to punish people who dare to even try to avoid the automated menu. But intentional or not, the phones ought to at least route callers back into the menu, if not patch you through to a real-life county employee.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.