I needed to contact Continental Airlines regarding a reservation for a future trip. Our connecting flight time had been changed and we now had only 35 minutes to change planes in Chicago, from a United jet to a puddle jumper operated by one of its associate airlines. Since racing through airports is not one of our favorite pass times, I decided to call Continental and request a change to a later connection. I didn't expect this to be a problem since our tickets were purchased with Continental frequent flyer miles.
I tried to reach Continental several times. The automatic attendant asked if the call was for 'seat assignments, a new reservation, an existing reservation or something else.' I did a bit of the automatic stuff giving my reservation number and confirming the date and departure city. Then I dialed zero and heard "I understand you want to speak with an agent. I can continue to help you or you can say Agent Assistance." I asked for an agent and then heard 'I am having technical difficulties. I am having technical difficulties. I am having technical difficulties. I am having technical difficulties. I am having technical difficulties.......' I hung up. This happened several times using more than one phone number.
Trying later I never even got that far. The automatic response was something like the call volume being so high that my call could not be taken. I hung up again.
Finally tried at 7:30 a.m. when I figured the call volume would not be high. And this time when I was asked if the call was about 'seat assignments, a new reservation, an existing reservation or something else' I finally got smart and said 'something else.' I got transferred to an agent and had to wait on hold about 5 minutes. Finally got a human being who pleasantly handled the change in reservation. Lesson learned: Don't even try to deal with an automatic attendant. Take the first opportunity to get a real live person.