Please listen carefully.
Our options may have changed.

I sigh. Even my regular interlocutors don’t make it easy: Changing their options means that I can’t use the number I learned last time to short-circuit this menu recitation.

It’s not like I’m calling for any information readily available online or via email for this or any other business:

  • Address – email, snail-mail, actual physical location
  • Office hours
  • After-hours contacts
  • Ordering procedures
  • Returns process

No, when I pick up the phone it’s because I NEED TO TALK TO A PERSON for some reason:

  • There’s been a mistake.
  • I have an unfrequently asked question.
  • I need an appointment and there’s no online-booking option.
  • I have a special request that the company accommodates but the online form doesn’t.

But for what must be good reasons, “talk-to-a-person” is always the last option given in every voice-menu system.

When all else has failed–Can we tell you about our profit last year? No? Our favourite movies?–and the well-if-you’re-really-sure-you-want-to-talk-to-a-person option finally comes up, I hit my phone’s keypad maybe a little over-enthusiastically.

With no apparent awareness of my impatience, the recorded voice cheerily and just a tad too quickly drones on through all the departments of the modern conglomerate:

  • For Shoe Repair, press 1.
  • For Faucet Installation, press 2.
  • For Travel Planning, press 13.
  • For Stress Counseling, press 247.

Wait, what? Was that a number for Hamster Spaying? But on it goes, relentlessly: It’s the epitome of the “Keep up or die, Lady” school of marketing.

And I do try to keep up and to keep track of any and all numbers that might possibly include my  area of interest in case–just in case–I don’t hear anything that’s exactly right. Not that that ever happens. Oh, hallelujah, against all expectation, there it is.

For Non-payment of Invoices, press 5398023.

But wait, there’s more.

If you know the extension of the person
you wish to speak to, please enter it now.
If you don’t, well, it sucks to be you.
There is no way forward from here.
You cannot go back one selection.
You cannot get to an operator.
All you can do now
is hang up.
Bye . . .

And unlike the guy on TV selling the K-Tel Patty Stacker®, they *can* do this all day: The system neither taketh offence nor taketh a break.

I should be grateful, I guess, that only a few organizations descend into the hell that was our Public Health voice-menu system in 2021. There was a delightful period when I could book a Covid-19 vaccination appointment online, but to cancel it (as, for example, when I got an earlier appointment at a drugstore) I had to call in and–wait for it–talk to a person. But I could only get to the right menu item after an unskippable 5-minute public-service (sic) announcement: general Covid hoo-haa, their specific Covid programs, and the benefits of vaccination. Wait for it, indeed. Saints preserve us.

I expect I’ve complained about these customer-service (sic) systems before, but it seems that the humans behind them are not listening. Maybe it’s time to start dealing with the world on an inputs-only basis: no more outgoing calls. Do you want to sell or tell or ask me something? Great! Give me a call: I have my voice-menu system ready to go.

Hi. This is Isabel.
Please listen carefully.
My options have certainly changed.

This entry was posted in Day-to-Day Encounters, Feeling Clearly, Laughing Frequently and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Options

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    I cannot record directly off my phone. I wish I could. Then I could record my phone answering to their phone, replying to my phone, replying to their…. you get the picture. I can imagine two recordings offering each other so many options that they tie up every telephone exchange all around the globe…. Hahahahahahahaha…..

    More seriously, I have chosen the option of not doing business with that store. Or bank. Or repair service. And then I have written them a letter saying why. No apologies yet, but I keep hoping….

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – You sound like the hippies who tied up (tried to tie up?) the Pentagon’s phone system back int he 1960s. Ah, those were the days. As for switching suppliers, sometimes that works – sometimes not. My doctor’s office is one of the offenders, and I’m not letting go of her for anything!

  2. Tom Watson says:

    When I call my doctor’s office I have to wade through a lengthy message that includes everything you mention, plus more, and then a message about abuse of staff in any form not being tolerated. Then comes the punch line: if you’re sick don’t come here, go to ur hospital. There’s no way to bypass this message!
    Sucks to be the person phoning in is right!

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      To -:-) Yes, it’s hard to be us. That “push” form of communication is very popular. They might as well say, “I know you want something, but you have to listen to me before I’ll listen to you.” If I were paying for staff to answer phone calls, I expect I’d get tired really quickly of paying to tell people things they could have looked up. So, I do see it from their point of view – I wish I had confidence that they see it from mine/ours!

  3. Eric J Hrycyk says:

    I feel your pain….received a letter from Phoenix Inspection Branch stating that we had to have an inspection of our HVAC system (installed 23 months ago) completed by December 31st, or else!

    I phoned, was not allowed to talk to a person, unit I had my correspondence number (I did) and the code for the type of inspection (I did not). I was then directed to the code listings automated system- it started with concrete piles #600 and progressed slowly to #679 which was “Final Inspection”.

    Now I dialed back into the original system, entered by Correspondence number followed by the Inspection number and a person answered the phone…..took all my information and sent out two inspectors the next day. Sigh…….

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Eric – Yeah, you’d think they could have covered that (all the info you’d need to do what they were demanding you do) in the letter.Things will be better when we’re in charge.

  4. Hey, Microsoft itself is getting d-d-double the money I owe year after year because somewhere along the line I made the wrong click–or one that had been laid in my path for malicious reasons. In 2022, I tried for several days, off and on, to figure out how to complain to a human. Or even to a machine. I failed and threw up my all-too-busy hands. This year, I thought I had them foiled by having changed my bank card number, but that did not stop them from using the correct one twice, the moment I paid for the first account. Again, I spent several days trying to undo the double debit and failed despite having found a thread in their system supposedly designed to solve my particular problem. I growled and gritted my teeth and tried once more and gave up again. My time is worth more than their overcharge, but it still rankles. Thank you for sharing in the frustration and grief.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Oh, no! That’s not good. It makes me wonder whether there’s a business opportunity, cancelling duplicate registrations and such, for a cut of the savings. Since you found a discussion link, you know you’re not alone.

  5. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – and my question is, where will the fault lie when one self-driving vehicle runs into another self-driving vehicle? If is bound to happen sooner or later, because we live in an imperfect world.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – LOL – I have no idea but I bet there will be a voice-menu system by which to access (sic) help in the moment. Or not . . .

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