Have you had a simple request but because you were talking to a call center, the simple request turned out into a big chain of transfers to all kinds of different departments and all kinds of specialists because the person you talked to either didn't have the authority or the expertise to help you from start to finish?

Example Sentence: When I called for tech support I got trapped inside a _____________

Is there a word for this?

  • If you want to be literary, you got caught [up] in a Kafkaesque nightmare. In more colloquial terms, you were sent / transferred / redirected from pillar to post. Aug 19, 2016 at 19:01
  • A Google search for "phone transfer hell" turns up 23 unique matches.
    – Sven Yargs
    Aug 19, 2016 at 19:07
  • "Phone maze" is super common, but it usually refers specifically to automated phone transferring ("push 1 for billing..." etc.) rather than a situation where you can actually talk to real people, but they're the wrong real people to help you.
    – 1006a
    Aug 19, 2016 at 19:32
  • You were sucked down an average corporate customer-support rabbit hole. Happens all the time, sometimes seemingly by design.
    – Drew
    Aug 19, 2016 at 22:52
  • But +1 - we need a few new and hearty words for this particular hell.
    – Drew
    Aug 19, 2016 at 22:53

4 Answers 4


You were (inside of/ being given/ getting) the runaround:

To receive unclear, misleading, incomplete, or evasive information, especially in a response to a question or request. I always get the runaround when I call the telephone company to explain all these extra charges. The reporter tried to get a clear answer from the senator regarding her stance on immigration, but he just got the runaround.

I note that one of TFD's example sentences very closely parallels your own, regarding a call center.

I would slightly re-arrange that however, and phrase it as:

When I called for tech support I was given the runaround.

  • also "handed-off" or simply "passed" or "passed on to" ...
    – Fattie
    Aug 20, 2016 at 2:42


When I called for tech support, I got shunted to different reps continuously.

From collinsdictionary.com:

Collins English Dictionary

shunt verb

4. (transitive) to evade by putting off onto someone else

COBUILD Advanced British English Dictionary

1. verb [usu passive] If a person or thing is shunted somewhere, they are moved or sent there, usually because someone finds them inconvenient. [disapproval] '

He has spent most of his life being shunted between his mother, father and various foster families.

Independent thinkers are shunted into minor jobs or refused promotion.


If you're looking for an English equivalent for a word or expression in another language that refers specifically to the situation you describe in your question, then one option would be to paraphrase.

So not "I got trapped inside XYZ" but maybe "I was endlessly redirected back and forth" or something along those lines.


Example Sentence: When I called for tech support I got trapped inside (in) a ________

(Call center) Relay.

Source: Merriam Webster

: the act of passing something from one person or device to another ; also : a system for doing this

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