Blog moved to .
Please join us there!
You will be redirected in 30 seconds.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rosa's rant, continued...

Rosa Say recently added a post here entitled, "Be forwarned, another e-mail rant coming on..." and I'm afraid it's "gotten me started," so to speak. I'm not usually one for ranting, but this particular "automated response" phenomenon happens to be a pet peeve of mine as well. And while I don't appreciate these e-mail systems, I hate the phone systems even more.

You know what I'm talking about - the automated voice system that tries to make you feel as though you've reached a person when you are quite obviously talking to a machine. (Really, do corporations think people are idiots? People ARE still RUNNING corporations, aren't they? Or have we devolved into some Blade Runner nightmare reality that I don't know about?)

A particular airline (that shall for the moment remain nameless) has installed my absolute least favorite of these systems. It's about as friendly (and sincere) as that assistant who only has one response to phone calls: "I'm sorry, she's in a meeting."

The system is designed to try to get information from you about what you want before connecting you to a human being. If it can help you without the human being, of course, it will be happy to do so. But if you really do need a human being, you're going to have to convince the computer to let you out of the system. And that's about as easy as convincing a python to let go of your pet hamster.

Before you can talk to a real human being, the computer is determined to learn everything it can about you. Ostensibly, this is so that the computer can pass the information on to the poor human being who will actually get stuck answering the phone. (Horror of horrors.) The problem is that most of the time, my information isn't that definite. I want the cheapest flight I can find within a given week or two. So giving the machine specific dates is only going to slow things up for me.

(I've tried it, the person picks up and says, "I'mlookingthosedatesupforyoupleasehold" and then disappears again before you can say, "Waitaminutethere'smoretoitpleasewait!")

Instead, I use my favorite trick to bypass these automated systems. From the moment I hear that automated tone, I just cut it off with the magic words: "customer representative." God bless the corporations that have programmed this instant escape routine into their automated telephone systems. Usually the computer will stop messing with you as quickly as if you had said, "I am the richest woman in the universe and I want to pay you an exorbitant amount of money for just five minutes of your time right now."

The computer usually puts you straight through to a real human being without batting an eye. Unfortunately, this particular airline has apparently invented the most stubborn computer on the face of the planet.

The first time you say, "customer representative," it responds in a bland tone something to the effect of, "Ok. First let me get some information from you." Then it proceeds with its rambling, automated script as though you never said anything at all.

The second time you say the magic words, it says, "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that," and it launches back into its scripted monotony. When you hear that litany drone on and on, you feel as though you have just entered the Twilight Zone. "WHAT!!! THEY DIDN'T PROGRAM IN THE MAGIC WORDS??? GOD HELP ME!!! THEY DIDN'T POGRAM IN THE MAGIC WORDS!!!"

You're trapped in automated hell.

Flustered, you try the magic words again. "Customer representative."

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand that."

As stubborn as the computer, you repeat the magical incantation for the fourth time. "Customer representative."

At this point, you're considering going Harry Potter on its butt (CUSTOMERO RESPRESENTATUS!) when you finally break through. "I'm sorry I'm having so much trouble understanding you. Let me connect you to a customer representative."

Brilliant. It finally gives you a person, not because you had asked for one four times, but because apparently it has decided that you must be speaking Swahili.

So to all those corporations out there that don't program the magical override into their automated voice response systems, shame on you. Life is too short to spend it talking to a machine. Don't make me set Harrison Ford on your computer butt. Just play nice and fix it. Please?

- EM Sky

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?