Friday, February 27, 2009

C'mon, Just Do It Already!

I usually don't mind automated options when I call the bank or DMV or random business. It saves me from having to talk to a stupid person and gets me to the department I need quicker than if I had to explain myself fifteen times. What I do not like is when they don't GIVE me an option to talk to a human.

A little over five year ago, I used to work as an operator for the deaf and hard of hearing. I was the person who would listen to the hearing person's side of the conversation and then type it to the deaf person. When the deaf person responded, I would read it back to the hearing person. I was essentially a human telephone wire.

It was one of my most favorite jobs. I did it part time and it had incredibly flexible hours (any shift, any time, any day - they were taking calls 24/7/365) and paid very well for a second job. I was a professional eavesdropper, really. And if the calls ran long enough, they would forget you were even there and my voice and fingers relaying their conversation was all but forgotten.

I learned a lot of tricks working there but the one I use most often is when not to use an automated option. You see, if you wait long enough, they either say something like "If you are not using a touch tone phone, please stay on the line and we'll connect you with the next available agent." This was also for the benefit of the deaf people - they can't "hear" the options and by the time it's typed to them, there isn't time for them to choose the option they wanted anyway, so usually an agent would come on the phone and we'd continue the call.

But today, when I called my bank, I got another directive. After listening to the normal greeting, offering me to "marque dos" if I wanted to hear the options en espanol, they asked for my account number. I don't know my account number and didn't want to get up to go look for it, so I just waited, not pressing any of the options. Then it said to press "9" for more options. I still didn't press anything.

About a minute passed when I heard the automated voice say, "Go ahead." The tone was one that children hear when hesitating to do something their friends are trying to make them do. It was a challenge. The recording might as well have said, "Go ahead. I dare you."

I was so taken aback, I told Ed about it and then called the number again to make sure I heard it right. Yep, there it was. "Go ahead."

I never did get to talk to an actual person; I just didn't want to wait the four minutes they explained it would take for the next agent to take my call.

Plus, I really don't like to be told what to do.


Gil said...

That's the Italian in you! It really upsets me that these places want your business but think that your time isn't worth anything. Did you work for Sprint TRS? Small world as working on their funding was part of my prior job. Stay healthy.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I'd say that's pretty rude. Go ahead. HUH! lol. I normally just try pushing 0 a few times. It's sad how they have no problem getting ahold of US, but we have no way to get ahold of them.

Angela said...

Wow... that's insane that it actually said "Go ahead". How rude! I find that a good deal of the time if you just press zero you will get routed to an operator or receptionist or whatever.

Other times, it traps you in automated hell...

Gil said...

I think that a lot of the newer answering systems have a way to block out pushing 0 and thereby reaching a person. In fact I think the secretaries at my local grammar school have the phones set this way. What a way to get voter support!