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Irate Brit catalogues call centre menu options on website

One man is crusading to save us all some time by publishing the call options of hundreds of companies on his own website.

We've all been there -- you phone a company expecting to speak to a human being, only to have to listen to an automated voice reel off call options. Well one frustrated Brit has channelled his ire by making a website that catalogues the menu options, helping us rattle through without having to listen to them all.

pleasepress1.com is retired IT manager Nigel Clarke's "labour of love", he told the BBC. The extensive site catalogues hundreds of companies' call options. For the last seven years, Clarke has been calling companies and creating sequences of Post-It notes to diagram the menus.

But he's done most of the work in the last six months, using Skype and recording software. Clarke -- who lives in Kent -- says he was inspired to make the site after being surprised by the "emotional response" from people when he mentioned it.

He says he's not against the idea of having automated call options, just how much time is wasted on waiting for the relevant one.

"I'm not against the system, but I am against bad design," he said. "No menu is best -- but if it is a necessity then design it properly. I think two levels maximum is ideal. Some stretch to three. You don't really want much more than that."

Some menus have more than 80 options to choose from, according to Clarke. For example, to speak to an adviser at HM Revenue and Customs only needs four button presses, but it can take six minutes to get through each menu level.

Clarke doesn't intend on devoting himself full-time to maintaining the site. Rather, he says companies should publish their menus online to help save us customers time.

Too right, I say. I've lost what seems like countless hours waiting for the relevant option, only to then be told all the operators are busy, so anything that helps save time gets the thumbs-up from me.

Now if only something can be done about the hold music…

What do you think of the site? Should companies publish their options online? What's the longest a company has kept you waiting? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.