Wednesday 16 May 2012


I have serious ire for automated phone systems. Needless to say, I am disturbed as I’m sure many of you are, when I call up somewhere to talk to a human being and am met by a pseudo human being that prompts me to go from one place in the cyber phone abyss (or hell, as I call it) to another, until I am trapped in some endless maze that costs me ten pounds (dollars) a minute and gets me absolutely nowhere. Ah futility, you've got to love it.

This happened to me the other day when I was trying to call my credit card company (bank, mileage plus program, school, doctor, store…mother’s house; just kidding mom) to answer a simple question about my account. Ah yes, the automated systems make nothing simple; in fact, they are designed to drive you freaking bonkers and shave years off your life. In fact, it’s hard to determine what part of the whole automated experience that drives me the most nuts. The antiseptic, saccharine, moronic woman’s voice that tries to soothe me through the process (why is it always a woman?)…or the fifty years you spend on the phone trying to get to the right department before being disconnected? Or the kicker, the phone bill at the end of the month that makes your eyeballs bulge because you forgot it was not a 1-800 number (as I’m calling international half the time, 800 numbers are lost on me).

Moreover, the woman on the phone always seems to want to funnel you to a website or a delightfully informative series of prompts that are designed to anticipate your questions (but never seem to have answers to any pertinent questions), and most importantly, never seem to give me the prompt that says, "press four if you are enraged and want to speak to a human being – that is not in a call center in India - that can actually answer your question for you!" I’m one of those people that just keeps pushing the number zero until either someone comes on the line or the phone blows up. I of course simultaneously curse out the robot that is telling me how to reach the right department and tell her what I truly think of her and the company that created her.

Needless to say, by the end of the phone call, I’m irritated, foul mouthed, and have usually forgotten why I was calling in the first place as the phone call takes so darn long. Of course, the whole design of these systems is to save the company money, which makes me even more annoyed, as the person paying for the lengthy phone call is MOI, the consumer. You see how many different ways we get screwed?

The other day I actually got put through to a person in under five seconds. I was so shocked I became a stuttering mess and couldn’t actually articulate what I needed. It was somewhat embarrassing, and yet, by the end of the phone call I practically invited the woman to tea because she was so darn 'up with people' (any of you that don't know the reference, it's worth the Google) and helpful.

You see, John Q Public has simple needs and desires. Just have a real blood pumping heart and talk to us in a non-robotic voice, and next thing you know, we will sign up for another year, take out another credit card or triple our cable package. I’m telling you, we’re suckers like that. 

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