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Voice prompted

Tuesday, January 15th, 2008

OMG, I can't stand voice-prompted phone systems. I'm not talking about a recorded voice saying "for support, press 1", I'm talking about a recorded voice saying "what time will your pickup be ready?" and expecting you to say your answer. Every time I get involved with one of these calls I get a sudden urge to kill.

Before today, the only one I had to deal with regularly was Dell. They are at least manageable: "Say or type the express service code of your system." Most prompts could be handled by an appropriate keypress on the phone. The only exception being the "do I have this right?" question where you have to say "yes." By the time I have to say that, the computer can't figure out what I say because my answer is so heavily wrapped with exasperation. The fact that I usually do this over the speaker-phone probably doesn't help the situation.

I just got off the horn with DHL Express to schedule a pickup of a Dell return part. DHL used to have a great system: "Type your phone number", "enter how many packages", "enter the weight", etc. Now they have some POS that makes you say everything. The ONLY redeeming feature of the new system is that it uses Caller-ID info to know who you are and what address to use. Other than that, it took 25x longer to schedule a pickup. I had to say and spell my first name, say what time we close, say how much it weighs; absolutely ridiculous. Even though I'm from Jersey, I'm proud of the fact that I don't have an accent. I would expect anyone with an accent or who doesn't speak English well to have a very tough time with their phone system. I even tried to enter the number of packages (1) with the number pad, but it just sat there and waited for me to say "one".

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