Wednesday, April 22, 2009

How phones can improve your reading habits...

OOPS!  SORRY if I might have kept you waiting.  I've been on the phone with...well, nobody exactly.  A voice, probably the creation of zeroes and ones in dense computer talk, popped up at intervals to tell me that "all of our representatives are currently assisting our other customers. But your call IS important and somebody will  be with you in a moment."  And for reasons that I can't explain, I'm always told that  my call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes even when there is no more than a 50-50 chance that I will finally talk to any living soul.   If you're looking for a growth industry in America,  put your few remaining dollars in Recorded Messages, Inc.  

First of all, I doubt that there is more than one representative on duty.  And that one may very well be taking a coffee break.  Secondly, I didn't reach this point without first pumping a series of digits from one to infinity to determine the party or department I would like to talk to if anybody is working at the other end today.  In the interim there are cheery sales pitches and really awful elevator music.  I shouldn't have to say this, I guess, because if you have a telephone, you know what I mean.

While wasting your  time and mine, wouldn't it benefit a company to develop a plan to educate or entertain you while the minutes and hours pass. You can always find old fishing magazines in doctors offices and barber shops to keep you moderately occupied until it's finally  your turn . Cable companies, however, can get you well into War & Peace before you decide to take a second bathroom break instead.   ( A friend lamented to me that it took seven hours to remedy a problem with his computer, which put him on a first name basis with a fellow in India.   I think they will  exchange birthday cards to honor their global experience. )

For others similarly situated, it would make a lot of sense to have somebody  at the other end read from a current best-seller to make the dead time useful.  Or from J.D. Salinger's short stories.  Or even Pericles' funeral oration as you are being asked to kill an afternoon. A lot of people seem to enjoy figuring out riddles, so maybe that would work, too.  Or how about electronic bingo until you find a real person to talk to.?  

 Remember,  folks, I grew up in a small town with four-digit telephone numbers and where my Old World grandmother, upon being introduced to her first telephone as a birthday gift from the family, nearly  dropped dead when she was urged to pick up the receiver and hear a cousin's voice.  

On the other hand, I might react the same way today if I heard a real voice at the other end, especially if it were a certain cousin.    


Mencken said...

I don't think I'd try to get my computer fixed over the phone any more than I'd try to get an oil change for my car by calling my mechanic.

TimJayFitz said...

When you call a place that tries to put you through a million electronic menus or those newer voice menus "if this is correct say 'yes'" I find its best to push all the buttons on the phone like crazy - a lot of times that will get you a real person - "we're sorry we did not understand your response, please hold while we connect you with....."