When calling any sort of customer service / tech support / service provider, please try to keep the following in mind:

With these things in mind, here is some advice:

  1. Have whatever account number or confirmation number you have been assigned. Long hold times are often a direct result of operators having to wait while they hear rustling over the phone while saying "mmm hmm" to people who just can't remember what they did with it, and must find it now. These people also seem hellbent on using the MIA account/confirmation number even when given another option, such as providing their home address or phone number. Don't be that guy. Find your information before you pick up the phone.
  2. Have some idea of what you are calling about. "Uhhh... (pause) uhhhmmmm..." is not an acceptable response to "How can I help you?" This applies not only to phone service but also to food service. If you are the dufus who goes to Taco Bell and stands in front of me drooling and mumbling "uhhh," don't be surprised when I kick you in the back of the knee and order a combo meal for you. If you don't know what you want, don't call and don't get in line.
  3. Okay, you have a legitimate problem. You need help. Try to call from a place where you can apply the help you need to your problem. Don't call from work to your ISP to let them know you can't connect from home. They will ask you if you get error messages. They will ask you what your configuration looks like. How do you know if you're standing behind the counter at TCBY with a waffle cone in your hand?
  4. If you know you don't have the information you will be asked for, such as the account number for your electric bill, be prepared to offer up some personal information. Have your drivers' license number or your Social Security number handy. For Pete's sake, memorize your address and telephone number. Don't argue about not wanting this information given out. You're the one who can't keep their bills in order. You gave them this information when you opened the account, so don't argue a bunch of conspiracy theory and mailing list bullshit with someone who absolutely cannot help you if you don't provide some sort of information (which they already have, and only want to confirm).
  5. Despite popular opinion, asking for the supervisor right away will not always get you a more knowledgeable and sympathetic ear. What it will do is cause the person you just talked to to inform their supervisor that another punk is coming up the pipes who thinks he's better than Joe Average. You will not get better treatment. You will get the same, or worse if the supervisor is in a bad mood for having been interrupted from their job to deal with someone who could have been helped by a lesser paid employee.
  6. Above all, be polite. Yes, you need this service performed or corrected. The person on the phone was not the one who caused your problem. The world is a nicer place when people are nicer to each other. On top of that, if you are a snarling beast to the guy who's about to align your tires, you may get an unpleasant surprise a few miles down the road when your tire falls off. People are not all forgiving of your bad mood. Most are accepting, but not all.