Back from a long weekend of Thanksgiving merry making and Black Friday weekend shopping...

Leave it to a new article on Slate.com to help me get a refund when I see the price drop on that new widget or whachamacallit that I just purchased on Amazon...

Timothy Noah, tired of companies hiding from their customers—by creating Web sites that offered no contact information for consumers in distress, for example—took on a mission: "to compel Web-based retailers to take phone calls from the public." With the holiday shopping season upon us, and with consumers in need of these numbers more than ever, Slate presents his findings once again.

In 2003, after diligently probing Amazon.com's SEC filings to locate its corporate address, Noah tracked down the Web site's elusive customer service number. That January, still in the sleuthing spirit, he revealed Amazon's 30-day price guarantee, just in time for post-holiday markdowns: If you buy an item from Amazon and its price drops within a month, the company will refund you the difference. Last year, Noah triumphantly unearthed the even-more-elusive iTunes customer support number, and he details the six simple steps needed to get an actual human being on the phone.

Also of interest, see Seattle Times: Via phone, MS is "worse" than 2005, but better than many, which includes a link from the Seattle Times to a compiled list of shortcuts for thwarting the phone systems at 60 local and national companies and government agencies. The complete table of companies surveyed by the Seattle Times (many here in the pacific NW are listed) can be found in this list (PDF).

Tags: Microsoft, Customer Service, Customer Support.