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Special Report

Beating the System

Beating the System
Part of 30 Days to a Better Life
By: Wes Wallace
We've all been there at one time or another.  Waiting on the phone, dialing through a maze of menus, only to hear, "Sorry, that is an invalid entry."
Perhaps you're all too familiar with this sequence, "press one for maintenance, two for billing, three for customer support, four for account information, or just wait on the line and an operator will be with you shortly."  Only the operator takes longer than you'd like and the only thing short is your temper.
Here's how a few people describe their on-hold horror stories:
"It's annoying, they just put you on hold and leave you there forever."
"It's ridiculous, I try the operator first, but usually you punch the number and you never get the people you need."
"If you have to wait anytime, it's annoying."
Well, wait no more.  There's a website,, that provides hundreds of phone numbers for all sorts of companies, and gives you the 'cheat codes' to bypass automated voice systems and menus, and gives you a real live human on the other end.
For example, the website gives toll free numbers, or a series of prompts.  To call Cellular One, dial 1-888-910-9191, then press 4.  There are literally hundreds of numbers and codes for computer hotlines, cell phone companies, department stores, insurance hotlines, and many other businesses.   We tested a few that worked, but be warned some of the numbers may be out of date.
Online shoppers can also beat the system, by checking out websites with coupon codes.,, and all claim to offer current coupon codes for hundreds of major retailers.  You can usually find deals for free shipping, but you can often take advantage of percent off offers too.   A reminder though, the codes are only good for a limited time.  
Here's a tip for cell phone users.  Rather than dialing 4-1-1 to get a number, you can avoid the charges from your cell phone provider.  Dial 1-800-FREE-411.  The catch is, you have listen to a recorded advertisement before you get the number you want.
So what's the reasoning behind our need to beat the system?  Some scientists say we're just like mice looking for cheese in a maze.
"Studies in human behavior show that if there's a shorter way to get through the maze to get our reward, most of us will take it, it's normal human behavior," explains Diana Harold, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.  She says it's ok for us to look for ways to make our life easier, but it's not ok for us to be constantly consumed with beating the system.
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