Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A curse upon...


They have -- or I guess had -- a nifty little system by which people can pay bills over the phone. Simple, no mistakes, fully automated. Takes about 3-4 minutes.

Today, I dialed up to make a payment and was routed to....India.

I'm hoping this was a simple glitch and the computer-generated voices will be back next time I call.

PARENTHETICAL I-AM-NOT-A-BIGOT THOUGHT: I have nothing against the Indians I have met. With the exception of an ex-landlord and a couple of store owners and clerks, that is. It's the Happy Hindus who work in "call centers" that bring out virulent hatred....

"Steven" was happy to help me. Except, of course, we were speaking two different languages. He could not understand numbers I read off to him and I, in turn, could barely understand what he was saying.

Three times he got the numbers wrong. I patiently -- and then not-so-patiently corrected him, until he finally got them right. I think.

This took eight minutes.

After I assured him that yes, I knew there is a website for AT&T and no, I did not want to enroll in "automatic bill payment" (at least until I can enroll my clients in a similar program), he started in on the "thank you for calling AT&T..." spiel. As if I had any choice.

Wait, I said. The good old automated system gave me a reference number I could use if there was a problem with the payment and I had to call a human. What about it, I asked "Steven."

"Oh yes, please hold for a moment," he said. Eventually, he came back with a number I had to have him repeat three more times.

Elapsed time: 11:02. That's a net loss of seven minutes out of my life wasted talking to some cretin halfway around the world.

God, I miss automated phone systems. They were so much more human than the operators of "call centers."


joan said...

It's AT & T's fault not the folks grateful for any job. Lord, it's such a relief to get any human on the phone these days.

I could teach you to speak English with an Indian accent though - that might be fun.

MrScribbler said...

Joan -- Of course it's AT&T. Heck, if I was offered a good job in a call center to deal with people in Mumbai, I'd take it. And they'd cuss me out for not speaking intelligibly, too.

I'm ready for the lessons! I used to do a good Indian accent when I was spending time in Vancouver, but it's gotten away from me.

Besides, I'd enjoy currying favor with you!

Dang, I kill me sometimes....

Anonymous said...

Surely another sign of end-times.

I prefer human interaction over an automated voice-menu ALWAYS, but if the person on the other end can't effectively speak the language, what exactly IS the point, you have to wonder.

lowandslow said...

Try this: I was recently talking to a guy who's son was going to well respected university. He had a professor (Indian) whose English was so bad the kid couldn't understand what the prof was saying. Seems half the class couldn't either. The dad called to the school to complain, saying he was paying tuition for a class that was doing his son no good. The school said "sorry", but to deny him a job would be discriminatory, considering his credentials. That just blows!

Birdie said...

I would never want to pay a bill via voice phone! I do all mine online with 3 passwords to get in and transaction numbers for confirmation... it's great!
Which reminds me, I have 3 bills to pay (they were hiding among the junk that got moved around for my new carpet lol)

betty said...

I got one the other day, a computer tech. I couldn't understand a word he was saying. I finally said will you please get someone who can speak English? And he did!