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Press One for English ...

by Peary Perry
Peary Perry

Press one for English, press two for Spanish”
“If you know your parties extension you may dial it at any time.” -
“If you don’t know your parties extension, then you must suffer through the rest of this call.”
“Please listen closely as our menu options have changed.”
“Press one if you desire new service.”
“Press two if you are an existing customer and wish to ask a question about your bill.”
“Press three if you are an existing customer and are having technical issues”
“Press four if you wish to schedule an appointment.”
“Press five if you wish to us to deliver an Yak to your house.”
“Press six if you would like to hear our options again.”
“Sorry pressing the ‘o’ button will not get you a live operator as we do not have any.”
“Please call again, we look forward to serving you, goodbye.”

Even if you do get into some extension this is what you are likely to hear: “Our representatives are busy helping other customers like yourself. Our calls are answered in the order in which they were received. Your approximate call waiting time is ….46 minutes, please hold.”

Don’t live humans work at these places any longer?

I don’t know about you people but if the so called ‘information age’ was designed to make things speed up and be more efficient, then I must have missed the train when it was leaving the station.

Several weeks ago, I called one of the credit card companies for one reason or another and within one minute I was talking to a real live American person. I was so impressed I told her I would never stop using that card again for that very reason.

I hate pushing button after button after button in order to get some issue resolved.

Think about all of the money these major corporations save just by having a small customer service department to handle these incoming calls. Most of the time everyone I know just gets discouraged and hangs up without talking to anyone. This certainly is one way of getting rid of customer complaints. No complaints? Everything must be good.

In the old days (maybe ten years ago) you called and spoke to a person called a ‘receptionist’ who heard your voice and said something such as “Good morning, may I help you?”

Then you would ask to speak to someone in the service department or whatever.

Then she would say something very nice like… “Certainly sir, if you’ll hold on just a moment I’ll get Mr. Baxter on the line for you.”

Ah, but I can only hope for the return of the good old days when this was possible. Somehow I don’t it will ever return.

What irks me even more are the robot answering machines.
“If you would like to hear about our specials…say the word special”.
“I’m sorry I didn’t get that… did you say the word Tanganyika?”
“Let’s try again….if you’d like to hear our business hours…says the word…hours.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t understand you, did you say the word proletariat?”
“I’m sorry I can’t understand you, please call again when you are sober. Thank you, goodbye.”

Then you start all over again.

How about the offices that have a list of personnel that you must listen to in order to get the extension of the person you are calling?

“For a list of company personnel, please press the pound key.”

Naturally the person you want to speak with is named something like Harry Ziggerwitz, so you must wade through all of the other seventy-five employees before you reach old Harry, who has left for the day and now you hear:

“Hi, this is Harry Ziggerwitz, I’m not available to take this call at this time, please leave me a detailed message along with your name, phone number, date of birth, time you called, type of car you drive, your mothers maiden name, what television programs you watch most often and if you like or dislike toll roads. I’ll call you when I return which may not be for several weeks. If you need something important, please redial and ask for my assistant’s extension from the company directory. Her name is Shelia Zumwald.”

Makes you want to live in a cave and use a rotary phone. In fact rotary callers get better service don’t they? “If you’re a rotary caller, please hang on the line and a customer service representative will be with you in a moment.”

Think I’ll try this from now on…I’ll report back to you on how effective it is.
© Peary Perry
Letters From North America

October 17, 2007 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

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