Curse You, Automated Customer Service Rep (CSR)/Telemarketer

What is with this trend of companies trying to use automated CSRs—especially ones with sub-par voice recognition software? I tried to pay some bills the other day and was thrown into a hellish loop. No matter how many times I pressed 0—typically the universal code for “give me a living human voice, damnit”—I was sent back to the main menu. Someone mistakenly, or intentionally, left out the human option. I, who am generally a calm and patient person, came close to yelling, “WTF? Do you SOBs want to get paid or what?” Grrrr…. Perhaps I would have gotten somewhere if I had pressed 6-6-6 instead.

Do these powers-that-be think that people would rather listen to a robotic voice than a heavily-accented person from India? Me? I would rather take a person; it doesn’t matter where s/he’s from. I have no problem as long as I get my needs taken care of quickly and efficiently. Come to think of it, the only automated voice I can possibly tolerate is one that tells me how many calls are ahead of me, or how long I should expect to wait and be given an option of continuing to hold or leaving my contact number so a living CSR can get back to me.

Why do I prefer a person? If I feel like I’m getting nowhere with Person #1, I can always ask to be transferred to their supervisor or pretend to get disconnected and call again later. I also like to be able to say I spoke with so-and-so at extension or ID# such-and-such, if there’s ever an issue later.

Of course, this is not to say that a live customer service person is error-free. When I first signed the Princess up for American Airline’s frequent flier program, I told the CSR that she was a baby and requested that she not be sent any credit card offers. Somehow I was misunderstood—accidentally or intentionally, I’m not sure. The Princess ended up with “Lady” as her title or part of her first name, and she still got credit card offers. I called a couple of more times to let them know to stop sending credit card offers and asked to correct her name. Although they still address her as “Lady” in her emails and annual mileage summaries, I am happy that we haven’t had a credit card offer for her in a while. (Knock on wood.) I guess one good thing is that we’d know if/when American Airlines is selling her name/information—especially if we were to get mail addressed to a Lady Roe.

My other pet peeve is when I’m solicited by an automated recording, and I can’t ask them to take me off their calling list. All I can do is hang up and keep hanging up. But it did give me an ideal about how to deal with those random telemarketers who dare to call even though we’re on the do-not-call list. I can pretend to be an automated recording: “Press 1 if you’d like to sell us some crappy service that we don’t need. Press 2 if you’d like us to call you back at your house at an inconvenient time. Or, you can simply hang up and go bother someone else. Thank you, and have a nice day.”

Tempting. So tempting…

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