Money Talks, Automated Listening Sucks
Today I got another wonderful experience with an automated calling system for customer support. This time it was for Sears. On Friday night our washing machine decided it didn't want to drain the water and run the spin cycle. Not a good thing. And these sort of things always happen at convenient times like Friday evening. Saturday calls went out to get a repair person to the house to fix the washing machine. My wife called Sears and a local guy. The local guy was called second, but he was less expensive and could show up a day sooner and that's exactly what he did. Today I had the task of canceling the appointment from Sears. They had a 1-800 number in the phone book to call. It uses this voice automated system. This is the kind of thing that drives you nuts when you have to call from work. Instead of silently pushing the phone keypad you have to practically scream "YES" and "NO" and "CANCEL APPOINTMENT", loud enough that you might as well be screaming "I NEED AN APPOINTMENT FOR GENITAL HERPES!". Finally after going though the system for 5 minutes, it dials a real person (I'm still not sure why), but the real person canceled the appointment in 30 seconds. Humans 1, technology 0. I remember having to go through the same crap with Sprint PCS. They had an automated person called Claire. She didn't go over to well with users.
Claire is a voice-driven computer program; a robot in human drag, and about as attractive. Sprint PCS apparently thinks tarting up a computer with a reassuring female voice somehow makes things more understandable.Ford Motors uses a similar system called Kate. She is fun to type vulgar phrases into and get responses like, 'that's not very polite'. All of these wonderful systems are used in hopes of saving money on real tech support from real people. Speaking of money, the new $20 bills are coming in October. They feature a peach colored tone in them as well as a few new other security features in them in hopes of fight counterfeiting. They are busy printing 900+ million of these bills. I'm sure when they are done with the 20's they can move onto the $200 bills.