Thursday, February 05, 2009

For English, say "bababababa!"

Does anyone in this day and age actually make phone calls in an atmosphere of absolute silence? I confess I am increasingly frustrated by voice-recognition phone menus that register every background breeze, cough, off-phone conversation, or (most likely) crying/squawking child as an item of input. I called T-Mobile today to see what they could do about the 5+ spam text messages Jeremy and I each get per week. I wouldn't care about the spam except that we don't have text messaging on our cell phone plan, so we pay 20 cents for the privilege of hearing about how we can make our debt disappear.

I was trying - foolishly, apparently - to multitask, so I called T-Mobile with my phone in one hand and a moderately fussy Magdalena in the other. Big mistake. I got as far as requesting English for the language and informing the automated system that I had a problem regarding text messaging. Then Magdalena started squawking into the phone. Next thing I knew, I was being transferred to someone to speak about a broken phone.

I wish they would just give us the old-fashioned option of pressing numbers to tell the system what we need. After Magdalena re-routed my call with her baby noises, I tried to cheat by pressing '0' repeatedly to get a live human on the line to help me. It didn't work. I guess the people who design those systems have realized that's what we were all resorting to, and so they eliminated '0' as a valid response.

Sometimes progress just isn't a good thing.

7 comments:

c said...

I know how frustrating that is!!! I hate speaking to those machines because they never understand what I am saying and I get so frustrated that I start yelling words it definitely does not understand, making the whole process completely worthless. Good news is, out of sheer disregard of given instructions, I have found a way to get around it. I have T-Mobile as well, and call the 611 option every month to pay my bill. I figured out that even though they do not give you the option, you can press 1 for yes or 2 for no. Also, 1 corresponds with the first option stated and so on. I can now get through the whole process without speaking. Basically you just push the numbers you would imagine they would have you push before there was the automated system. It really works, give it a try.

c said...

I know how frustrating that is!!! I hate speaking to those machines because they never understand what I am saying and I get so frustrated that I start yelling words it definitely does not understand, making the whole process completely worthless. Good news is, out of sheer disregard of given instructions, I have found a way to get around it. I have T-Mobile as well, and call the 611 option every month to pay my bill. I figured out that even though they do not give you the option, you can press 1 for yes or 2 for no. Also, 1 corresponds with the first option stated and so on. I can now get through the whole process without speaking. Basically you just push the numbers you would imagine they would have you push before there was the automated system. It really works, give it a try.

Liz Johnson said...

Hahaha, I think it's funny that you kept going. I usually stop the minute Nathan babbles me into the wrong option and get all flustered. I like that you just kept going so that you could tell the customer service rep how annoying their system is. Way to be proactive. :)

Nancy said...

This has nothing to do with phone trees, but once I phone the doctor's office when Rachel was sick with an ear ache and a high fever. She was crying and I couldn't get her to calm down and I was so frustrated, so I decided to call the doctor to make an appointment.

The lady who answered the phone was like, "You need to hang up and call back when you can get your child under control."

I was like, "WHAT?"

Seriously, a doctor's office told me that. Like, shouldn't they care that my baby is screaming...what if I was telling them she was dying or that I just couldn't handle being alone with her anymore...or, you know, anything else bad.

Anyway...that said, phone trees are really annoying. Here, I always select the "English" option and then when the phone is finally answered the person is speaking Arabic and I have to be transferred to like 20 different people before they find someone who speaks English. Why even have that as an option in that case?

Arielle said...

I hate that they caught onto our "0" trick! I figured out that sometimes it's #.

Britney said...

To avoid the stress you just described, I try to get my quick phone calls for the day done and over with all at once. Beforehand, I give each kid a special snack and a game or movie to watch, announcing that it will be quiet time while Mommy talks on the phone for a few minutes. And I think I'm so smart. :)

But it never works. Inevitably, they are much louder during that phone call than if I had just been cleaning or something. Someone gets hurt. Someone is always screaming. And I'm always apologizing to the person on the other end of the line IF I can even hear them. And IF, like you said, I'm even talking to a real person.

Bridget said...

Woah, Nancy, that is out of control - the phone lady, not you. Sheesh.

Sometimes I use a hands-free earpiece but that creates its own problem since I can't move it away from my mouth easily to say something to Miriam. So I end up talking to both the customer service person and my 3-year-old at the same time. It's confusing.

#. I will have to remember that, Arielle.

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