Tuesday, January 22, 2008

You, Robot

When our telephone line developed static so powerful that even the automatic dialers delivering political pitches stopped leaving messages on our answering machine, we knew it was time to call Verizon. I did this past week while on my lunch hour at work, my finger at the ready to "press one" for this option, "two" for that option. Turns out I didn't have to.

I didn't get a real live repairperson on the line. Heavens no. A pleasant "lady" came on the other line, asking me a series of questions about my phone-- the number, if I had called about this problem before, whether I was calling from home, etc. Only she wasn't, uh, real. "She" was a voice recognition system programmed to respond appropriately to my answers. A robot!

She walked me through my problem with the ease of a veteran lawyer methodically plying a friendly witness of the stand . . .

"Do you get a dial tone?" she asked.


"Then what is the problem? I will go through a list of common problems and you repeat the problem you are experiencing."

It didn't take long to get to "noise on the line." Then she asked a question I didn't understand.

"I'm sorry?" I said.

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand what you said," she said politely.

"I'm sorry, I didn't understand what YOU said," I repeated back. I felt an impasse coming.

"I'm sorry. I still didn't understand what you said. Is this happening on ALL phones in the house?"

Ah, she repeated the question. Now I heard it. Smart thinking on her part. Ummm, I guess (This is getting pretty freaky).

Then she said she would test the phone line on her end. While that was running, she walked me through how to do a test at the telephone network interface box attached to the outside of the house. Finally, she said that the line tested fine. We agreed (this is really getting freaky now) to withhold billing for a couple days while I did the test at the phone box.

Anyway, when I got home that day our phone line was clear as a bell. Hmmmmmm, guess that robot DID find a problem on her end. And fixed it! She just didn't tell me about it.

It's like Will Smith found out in the movie I, Robot. Robots--you just can't trust them.


Blogger poopie said...

Yeah, my phone company's robot can't understand my yes and no answers either. Pisses me OFF.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

All's swell that ends swell Dave.

3:55 PM  
Blogger Kacey said...

Dear Dave, When you check outside the house and find the problem there --- it's their responsibility. However, if it is clear out there --- it's your equipment and you get to pay through the nose. I finally took the "linebacker policy" that makes anything on the landline their problem to fix. Don't fight the robot --- it's programmed to win!

8:00 AM  
Blogger Carine said...

I hate any kind of technical equipment Dave, so you have my utmost sympathy. still no new grandson, the girl is holding on.

4:10 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

With my kind of luck, the robot would speak with an accent from somewhere in India.

I just hope I never have that kind of a problem with Verizon, but I am glad that you are now back on line and able to get all those wonderful political messages. LOL

1:23 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

MARIA--I read somewhere that those employees in India who man telephones at the help desks for computer users are beginning to have health problems--stressed out, becoming overweight etc. I guess you don't have those problems if you outsource to robots. The article said some callers from America can be rude.

Nawwwwwww, can't be!

9:28 AM  
Anonymous Deb said...

Hehe. Sounds like the conversations I have with my cellular provider. I hate those darn automated things.

3:19 PM  
Blogger Rarus vir said...

I wish my doctor's office had one of those.

6:10 AM  
Blogger Lucy Stern said...

Glad the problem was solved, but I still like talking to a real live person....I will wait on the line till I can hit 0 and get an operator.

7:20 AM  
Blogger BeverlyM said...

Big Dave,

Are my eyes deceiving me or is this the same post I read the last time I stopped by? You know a woman in menopause doesn't see well ALL the time.

Hope you're well!

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Blog, wasn't it a robot who managed your fantasy football team?

7:09 AM  
Blogger LZ Blogger said...

Big Dave ~ I had an experience like this last week with American Airlines. I got so frustrated with it. I just kept saying "NO! NO! NO!" over and over again and then it eventually gave me a REAL person who actually understood how upset I was with the "automated voice response system". I think I now preferred the number responses. (At least) they don’t sound like they understand your response when they really have no clue. ~ jb///

1:37 PM  
Blogger Babette said...

Did she play the violin perchance?


4:33 PM  
Blogger OldHorsetailSnake said...

I never could understand you. Does that make me a robot?

4:34 PM  
Blogger Pixilated said...

Hey Dave, Guess who has a new blog and another blogroll?

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:04 AM  
Blogger Big Dave T said...

ANONYMOUS--Wow, that's a cool site. For those of you reading here, it's a way to get a live human on the line for many of those 1-800 customer service lines.
BONNIE--Hea, I noticed that robot was fiddling the tune that goes with the lyrics I quoted over at your place a couple weeks back.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOL....I have to agree! A robot assisting you? Sounds like sci-fi to me.
But hope your phone is now fixed. Otherwise, the next step might be a spaceship landing in your back yard to solve the problem.

6:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:33 PM  

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