"Not a Fan of Automation"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, June 20, 2015

Automation, isn’t it just wonderful. If you wish to call your phone company, simply dial the number listed on your bill. You will receive an automated machine response.

The machine will say, “You have reached ABC Phone Co.” No kidding. All the time you spent waiting after the “one moment please” message just verified you know how to dial the phone. Next you will be told to verify your phone number, which they have because you are calling in on it and which you know because it appears on the bill.

When you try to interrupt the machine by saying, “I wish to speak to a representative,” it tells you your balance due and date it is due. You then ask to speak to a real person. This time it says, “Do you wish to hear your charges.” When you say, “No, I need to speak to an associate (thinking they like that term better)” the machine tells you to hold please.

The next machine wants all the information you already gave the first machine and then a voice which you think may actually be a live one, comes on and says, “How can I help you.”

Of course, it’s in that delightful tone only a machine can use and your hopes are dashed. Once more you ask for a living, breathing person who can discuss a billing error. Since machines never make errors only live persons do, the machine becomes confused and again it aks you to hold.

When it comes back on the line you again learn your account number and balance due, plus the due date. Asking for that live person leads you to another “hold please.” After enough time has elapsed to have written this column you actually reach a real, live person with a pleasant voice who asks, “How can I help you?”

After getting all the information plus your mother’s maiden name to verify you are indeed you, she looks up your account and finds the mistake the computer made. She agrees to make the needed corrections and inquires if there is anything else she can do for you. I answer, yes get rid of the machines that never let me talk to you. She chuckled at that response but did say she would pass my suggestion on.

If you think the machine at the phone company is a waste of time wait until you have to call the cable company. You don’t get a monotone voice from a machine, you get a voice with an accent you cannot even understand. The person you get on the line must be in a huge room full of people all talking at the same time (I believe the term is “call center”.) They can’t understand you either and when you ask for someone that speaks English clearly, they just hang up on you.

I wonder if anyone listens to those recordings they tell you “may” be taking place. If so, can they understand the person you were trying to talk with? If the answer is yes, perhaps they can help me reach someone who might help me get my cable working. One time I did reach a technician and they gave precise directives to push buttons and other things to do. They said to wait in between and if one thing didn’t work, try another.

After tying up my phone line for a lengthy time and taking the time I had hoped to be watching my favorite TV show, I’m told they will make an appointment for a technician to show up. They say it will be in a day or two but the service person will call me and if they don’t arrive on time I can take $20 off my bill. I’m told I have to remember to ask for the $20 or it won’t be applied. That was what the serviceman confirmed who did at least call ahead to tell me a time of arrival which he did not meet (Yep, I did get the $20).

Just imagine your local government agencies working like that. If you call the fire department, your house will burn down before the fire trucks are dispatched. And if you call the police to report a robbery at your store, it will be emptied out before they arrive.

I’m not poking fun at our local emergency services, they’re the best and I know that because I was a member of them at one time.

As I see it, I don’t care for automation, let alone trying to understand foreign languages.



Return to Home Page of Tipsforboating.com


Copyright © Fred Davis. All rights reserved.