When I talk to you, Mr. (or Ms.) Robot, you want me to do things your way – in a series of defined steps, and disregard what I want you to do.
For example, Palo Alto Medical Foundation (PAMF), I call to talk to a nurse to see if a substitute prescription has been found. When the female robot answers, I ask for the Internal Medicine Department. She tells me there are several: Mountain View, Palo Alto… I shout out “Palo Alto” and she continues going down her list San Jose, Fremont, Sunnyvale. I repeat “Palo Alto” but she says she doesn’t understand and sends me to their operator. I’ve learned to say Internal Medicine, Palo Alto in one breath and that works. Victory!
Yesterday, I called United Healthcare to check on my insurance payment. After six rings, a male robot answered then sent me to their telephone tree – which did not contain “billing.” I pressed repeat. A voice answered and asked me for my name and birth date. I asked for customer representative and transferred ne. Their phone rang; I was put on hold, and waited and waited. “Thank you for your patience,” the robot said to me. Then after a lapse of a couple more minutes, the voice thanks me again, telling me “Your call is very important to us.” (If it’s so important, then why aren’t you answering the damn phone!” I thought.) The next robot voice told me a customer representative will soon be with me.
A real live woman answered and when I asked her about a payment, she found me in their files but said my insurance was part of a group plan.” I will transfer you there, and if we get disconnected, here is their number.” Aha, she knew the fallacies of their phone system.
A new male robot answered n four minutes and asked for my name and social security number. Hmm, one robot wanted my birth date and the next my social security number? That’s concerning because I don’t like to give that out. The robot didn’t understand what I was complaining about.
I finally got to a live man; he found my file, and said I owed $787.97 for my insurance for the rest of the year. I paid it. Total telephone time: 53 minutes. I’m taking delight now in timing all these calls.
And speaking of holding on the phone, a month ago I called a dermatology office at 3:15 p.m. on a Friday. The telephone rang 27 times and no one answered. I’ve had long waits before for someone in a department to answer. I finally surmised that the probably office had closed early the day. Duh.
Another problem: Some calls seem to accidentally(?) get disconnected. I called Ravenswood Medical Clinic for information for a friend, and after waiting 15 minutes, someone picked up the phone, then I heard a click. I was disconnected. That happened twice.
Sometimes some robots just don’t understand: They would to ask me something, and I would answer “yes,” and the robot could not understand my answer. “Yes,” I repeated, but I was sent to their operator. Why can’t the robot understand “yes? Those areal operators got things right. There’s a lesson there.
Then I called Palo Alto City Hall and hit a tall telephone tree. I wanted to ask about gas powered leaf blowers. I pressed “5” for Public Works and got a second telephone tree, with further options. A robot finally answered and told me, “No one is here to take your call right now, but you can leave a message.” I did. I never heard back that day.
My experiences go on and on. I asked my husband if he has the same robot problem, and if it happens often. “Often? Well, most of the time. Guess that’s often.” He’s a gentler type and doesn’t want to throw the -phone across the room like I do when I get exasperated. I found a better option to tossing a phone. I eat a chocolate candy to ease my frustration.
So , robots, what are you going to do to help us people, the ones you talk to all the time.? Maybe report the problems to your person boss? Bet they didn’t train you for that. Tell your boss you can’t understand people? Well, your boss won’t like that because he will think understanding is your job. I agree with him
Should we complain to the robot’s boss? Yes, if you can get on the telephone tree and track him down. Good luck! You’ll need it.