Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phone-y-ness

Went out for my five miles' walk this morning. A mistake, the direct sun beating down, concrete sidewalks and other sources of heat, direct and reflected, reduced me to a sodden pulp.

One of my neighbors accosted me when I got home: "we were just about to go in your place to see if you're okay. Your phone has been busy since last night."

It's nice to have neighbors like that.

I went upstairs to find that none of my phones worked. No dial tones, no noise on the line; not even any peeps when I pushed buttons. Oddly enough, the DSL worked fine (or at least as well as it ever does).

So, borrowing a phone, I called 611, the "repair" service.

Like every other service at AT&T, 611 now involves a computer-generated voice asking stupid and not-always relevant questions to which you respond with the few words the voice recognition software knows ("I'd like to pay my bill" seems to be the only one you can count on) or by entering a number, "press one for Spanish"-style.

After 10 minutes of this to-and-fro, the computerized voice said AT&T would send a repairman out on Monday, between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00p.m., for a mere $55 "diagnostic fee."

In the meantime, another neighbor suggested I unplug all my phones for 10-15 minutes and let the system recycle itself.

I don't know if that did the job or the "system check" the computer voice claimed was being done actually accomplished something, but when I plugged the phones back in, everything worked. As well as it ever does, anyway.

So I called 611 again to cancel the service call. Apparently, the computer couldn't understand me -- even though I avoided words like %&@# and *^(! and @$$#*/% -- and was, at last, going to let me talk to a human. After 20 minutes on hold, I gave up, and will try later.

I was beyond furious, and still am. I pay $120/month for my phone plan (albeit a reasonably good one) and DSL all rolled together. I expect better service. I expect to be able to talk to a human when things get sticky.

The alternatives available are at least as costly and some, such as cable, are much more expensive here.

Welcome to the 21st Century!

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? Talk to a human? That would cost MONEY, silly.

I will never be of the mindset that things computers can do the job of a human just as well or better.

You pay a lot of money to have to talk to automated phone-sex operators :)

MrScribbler said...

Anon -- I get just about the same result from automated AT&T and phone-sex operators...they leave me limp! ;-)

Anonymous said...

Things nowadays are so idiotically computerized I'm surprised anything works. We live or die by computers. They are truly the Achilles heel of modern society. If you wanted to cripple the civilized world today, forget WMD's....just frazzle our computer systems. (I never had these problems with a #2 pencil and a legal pad, or a rotary phone. *wink*)

S

DAL said...

They're trying to save too much. We have automated response, but the option is there to speak to a human. For some things, the system automatically connects to to a person.

What's appalling to me is that they charge you to test their bloody line. Bell does that for free, unless the problem is the wires inside your home.

Anonymous said...

Ben, the savvy truck driver, clued me into a website called gethuman dot com. I have used it succesfully MANY times to bypass the idiotic mechanical voices that only raise your blood pressure.

Anonymous said...

Ben, the savvy truck driver, clued me into a website called gethuman dot com. I have used it succesfully MANY times to bypass the idiotic mechanical voices that only raise your blood pressure.