Early one morning before leaving for school, my daughter tried to make the call. After several unsuccessful attempts, she gave up. When the telephone wasn’t screaming at a piercing pitch in her ear, she was disconnected mid-way through the process.
Later that same day I attempted to register her. I punched in the required numbers after the word “now.” In the middle of the procedure the “voice” on the machine told me there was an error, and unable to process the information. I hung up and tried again.
After the lengthy operation was once again repeated, I reached the final step: punch in the expiration date of my charge card. As I pushed the sequence of numbers, an intense screeching came from my phone like my daughter experienced earlier. It wouldn’t stop! Frustrated, I hung up. When I picked up the receiver to try to make the call again, my phone was still screaming. Then, silence. Dead. Nothing! Finally, my telephone had the dial tone again. Certain it must’ve been my telephone creating all the havoc I tried another phone and attempted the drawn-out procedure again. After several steps had been completed, the “voice” on the other end said, “Thank you for calling” and disconnected me! I dialed again. This time the “voice” said, “I’m sorry. Our data base is unavailable right now. Please hang up and try at a later time.” By now frustration has led to pure aggravation!
Other times of frustation can happen when we have an extensive menu to follow to reach the proper destination for a phone call. Those who employ such systems have their own style, unique to their business, but basically the menu remains the same. For example: push one, for accounting, push two to place an order, push three for inquiries about your order, push four for canceling an order and the list can continue up to number eight or nine!
Machines obviously are very valuable to businesses and even society in general. They do the mundane, tedious work many people hate, and often, more rapidly. I even appreciate my own answering machine/voice mail set up for taking messages when I am unavailable. It is my responsibility, however, to respond humanly to my caller as soon as possible and not ask a machine to respond for me!
Automated telephone systems seem to have replaced human interaction. We can call to register a product, receive store hours or location, hear a store directory, be contacted from solicitors, pay a bill or even to request prescription refills. But it’s frustrating when you have a comment, concern or questions only a live person can answer. What has happened to polite, human conversation? What makes taking an order, prescription refill, or SAT registration so mundane or tedious people can’t handle it?
Machines don’t give one whit whether I understand the directions or not or if I have a question, comment or concern. They just tell me they can’t process the information unless I punch the right numbers on my touch-tone phone.
Most people are partial to talking with other people. They enjoy hearing a pleasant, “Hello. Can I help you?” I like hearing the inflections of the voice and different accents of the people I am talking with. Machines are cold, without a heart, or any emotion. I want a person to talk with, even when I make a telephone call; a person who is just as human as I! Does this make me odd? Am I alone here?