I Still Can’t Get No Satisfaction

Do you ever go back and look at your old posts?  There are a few that stand out in my memory, but mostly I forget about them unless someone else says something that brings it all back.  And then I have to go look.

Kate, from Views and Mews by Coffee Kat recently posted about her experience with customer service. It reminded me of this one, the second post here on FiftyFourAndAHalf.  That was over four years ago, and the world of customer service, and the robots who “service” us has not improved.

*     *     *

Automated telephone answering systems are responsible for the 40% increase in psychotic events over the past 15 years.

That’s my theory, anyway. My hypothesis. I’m not sure how to prove it, but it is true. My secondary hypothesis is that all incidents of domestic terrorism are directly tied to automated telephone systems. The FBI should investigate.

Personally, I become psychotic each and every time I have to press 1 for this and 2 for that. I’ll cut them a break for language, though. I have no problem pressing 1 for English. People need to grumble in their native tongue. Spanish speakers should have that right too.

But in fact, nobody gets to bitch. We just press 1 or 2 respectively and listen to additional options, none of which are what we want. None of the prompts come even close to what really want. None of them says “Press 4 to scream at a human.”

I become progressively more apoplectic with each and every telephone prompt. Eventually, with perseverance, I finally get a person. And by the time I do, that person on their end of the telephone is thinking long and hard about their career choice.

It’s not their fault. I always tell them that. I know it is true. But that fact doesn’t alleviate any of my anger at the time I have spent just to get to them. And nine times out of ten, the human I have reached is the wrong human in the wrong department and usually in the wrong country. I must start again. My psychosis soars along with my blood pressure.

There is even one telephone prompt voice that makes my blood boil. I call her Sybil. Sybil is everywhere: at my cable company and my power company and a couple of the banks I briefly considered doing business with until I heard her speak. She is young, chatty. She pretends to be my friend. She is not my friend. I do not want to be friends with a telephone prompt. I do not want to talk to her. I do not want to do anything she asks of me. And I really do not want to press her buttons. She is pressing mine. Remotely.

On average, after approximately 5 different prompts I am invariably led to a dead end where I have the same four original choices, none of which remotely fulfilled my need at the start. Or, if somehow one of the choices would work, I am promptly disconnected. I must start again with Sybil.

I am pretty sure the cost savings in terms of personnel is not worth it for businesses. Often by the time I am done with a call about this or that, I am ready to destroy the building. And if all your customers feel that way—and they do–perhaps you should rethink your policy.

One minute with a person early on and my problem would have been solved, amicably, and I would be a satisfied customer. Instead, an hour later, I would give all that I own for a battalion of similarly psychotic customers who would help me storm company headquarters and pin down just one human for us to yell at in turn. But by the time my turn comes, of course, I will have forgotten why I want to yell at them. And then I’ll have to talk to Sybil again.

I know, I just posted this video. But you gotta admit, it fits.  Besides, it’s my damn blog.

121 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Bloggin' Buddies, Cancer on Society, Conspicuous consumption, Criminal Activity, If I Were King We'd Use Humans, Oh shit, Shit happens, Why Do I always Have to Call?, Why Does Word Press Limit the Tags And Categories?

121 responses to “I Still Can’t Get No Satisfaction

  1. I couldn’t agree more. And they have the gall to ask you if you would be willing to take a “brief survey” of their service after the call — which is ALSO automated. So, more buttons to push (but not the ones your really want to push!!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Kate McClelland and commented:
    Hahaha funny! Press 1 for humour, 2 for…. kidding! :0)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cable companies are the worst. I always press O first to see if I can blast through the rigamarole!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You are so on point about all of this. I just had to call one of the major credit verifying companies because of this little problem I have; that they have me classified as dead. After fighting with the phone tree, I then had to tell my story, complete with full identifying information, to three human beings. THree! Wouldn’t you think a dead person would get more respect?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And to think it’s gotten worse since you wrote this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I like when I get the “I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch that response” when I’m screaming “Fucking get me a human!” into the phone.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “Please listen carefully as our menu options may have changed.”

    LIAR! The options never change!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am with you on this one!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. As I live and breathe….Sybil works at Amtrak. She calls herself something else and doesn’t understand English, even though she speaks it. She’s a good sport though and my cussing doesn’t phase her a bit. She’s just as chatty as ever about topics that I have no need for.
    I want Sybil’s job.
    Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

    • How did I miss this comment?

      Glad you liked the post. But I guess I won’t be riding Amtrak any time soon! I avoid Sybil like the plague that she is. Imagine taking another name to fool us.

      Like

  10. Worse than the robots when I call are the ones that call me. Really? You called me, why do I have to stay on the line and wait for you and answer your robot….no I don’t think so. Click.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Were were on to something then and maybe now someone will listen. Oh. Wait. Silly me. I was thinking the world was somehow more wise now after four years. I feel more wise after four years more experience in living and learning. Don’t you? Why wouldn’t that be collectively contagious?

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh, how I loathe automated answering lines.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I find myself yelling at the robots on the phones. And should I finally get to a human, I back off all the way. However, I do calmly let them know that their employer’s phone system is awful.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sybil hasn’t changed a bit in four years, unfortunately. I cringe when I have to make a call to a customer service rep, knowing she’ll be the first ‘person’ I’ll have to deal with. I wish our phone calls were on a 5 second recorded delay so the first wrong person I talk to could just play the audio tape to the 2nd and 3rd wrong persons I’m going to talk to. Instead, I have to tell my story over and over again until the right person hears it. Good times!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. That is why I try the “Hit ‘0’ to go directly to a human being” option from the get-go. It only gets you the operator, but you talk to somebody. The majority of the time, it works.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I can’t remember most of my old post. I thought I was the only one that had to go back and re-read what I wrote. I agree I know I usually need a pill after going through the telephone prompt maze. If the phone wasn’t cordless I would probably pull the damn thing from the wall. My biggest issue now is going to the website to find the number to customer service and there is no number. They want you to send an email and they will call you. I’m not sure if I like that any better.

    Like

    • Oh I agree with this new thing where they call you — it’s horrible. I had it happen a few weeks ago. A client had transferred a huge bunch of documents I needed to read right away, and I couldn’t access it. And there was nobody to talk to for what I assumed (incorrectly as it turned out) was just something minor I wasn’t doing right. My need was urgent. They called me back three days later. Ugh…

      Going back is helpful and sometimes fun. Occasionally excruciatingly embarrassing, too! But you’re not alone. That really is one of the beauties of blogging. You find out that you are never the only one facing whatever it is you’re facing. There’s a lot of comfort in that!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Sometimes it’s a good idea to look at our early stuff. I see a definite change in style and may well revamp a couple!
    As for that dreaded phone prompt, ‘Sybil’ is true to her namesake and brings about 90 odd personalities!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s precisely why I gave her that name!

      Do you really see a change in style? My style is pretty consistent, but now I am less likely to revise and revise and revise and take my time with a post. Most of the time I just spit them out!

      Like

      • Yes, I do, mainly in that my format and content is more varied now. I have to admit though that I am more confident to go ‘straight to WP’ rather than prepare posts off line first!

        Liked by 1 person

        • That seems to me a normal part of the evolution of blogging — varied content that is. I once thought I’d be a politics only blog, but it became more fun to write whatever! So I don’t really get folks who are limiting themselvess. Then again, I bounce around (probably ADD) soooooo, this fits.

          I just resubscribed to your blog — twice, actually. I hope I am on the On list now!

          Liked by 1 person

          • I’m definitely having more fun writing about anything and everything, and living on the boat gives a new tilt on ‘homelife’!
            Funny how you had to resubscribe, not so long ago I discovered I’d been ‘dropped’ from some too when WP had been playing behind the scenes (as they do).

            Liked by 1 person

            • Well today I followed and then accidentally unfollowed — I actually saw the count go down when I hit “follow” — so I hit follow again and it went back up. Probably made it look like I couldn’t decide! So if you get lots of different notices … ignore them. (But I doubt you will; WP never tells you when someone un-follows!)

              Like

  18. You mean… Sybil’s not my friend? (Sniff) And I thought she cared…

    Like

  19. Oh, dear….lock me up and throw away the key! Enjoyed this new-old post. And that video is brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Paul

    We have another choice here in Canada – the first one is always “Please press 1 to speak to an operator in India and press 2 to speak to an operator in Montreal.” Oops, sorry that’s 1 for English and 2 for French. We just press 2 all the time and demand to speak English – it beats trying to speak Indian or Pakistani (God bless their souls- they are hard to understand).

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I worked in Geneva I learned the accents, and so I have less trouble with them then many folks do (or, since my husband claims I’m deaf, I hear all of them badly).

      But I have a terrible time with foreign names. I was planning a big meeting in Geneva of worldwide medical experts and the list of names was daunting. “Don’t you know anybody named Jones?” i said to my boss.

      Like

  21. You know you’re not enjoying your conversation with Sybil when your dogs leave the room the minute they hear her voice on the phone. They know. It’s just a matter of time before the Mommy machine is rattling with rage or frustration, or both. Screws and bolts and such start bouncing in every direction, and the dogs – they know. Sybil is no friend of theirs.

    Waving in your direction. Howdy, you. See you next time around.

    Like

    • Oh yeah. Dogs are smart people. And it sounds like you, like me, use the speakerphone so that both hands are free so that when you bash your head against the wall, you can use your hands to guide it for maximum effect!

      Hope you’re doing well, 99! I miss you.

      Like

  22. Thanks for the link. Looks like we have an army of Sybil detestors! Let’s storm the Bastille! Oh wait, someone already did that. I bet it was because they were in the “catch 22” menu! Or was it the cake….

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Also, when I look at my older posts, it feels like someone else wrote those things. Wasn’t me. Couldn’t have been. I honestly feel this way, and get surprised when I go back, so I don’t much do it. It’s just creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, Trend, you do scare me with your posts. When you look back you have to realize that some of your stories (bizarre and wonderful) came out of your mind!

      But you’re also not a neurotic editor, like I am. Naturally, before reposting this one, I tweaked it just a bit …

      Like

      • Yeah, they did, and it’s a satisfying although slightly disquieting feeling.

        I wish I had the gift of tweak… it’s a necessary thing in the writing game.

        Like

        • I don’t do as much of it in my blog these days — the story posts of my family I work on pretty carefully. But the rest? Nah.

          Everybody needs an editor, though. And a ruthless editor. Because when the writer is wrapped up in the writing, he/she knows what he’s talking about. There is always a question of whether he/she is conveying it clearly or just confusing the reader. That and the grammar and punctuation always needs help.

          An old boss of mine could look at a sentence, change one little word — a “the” to an “an” for example, and make a sentence shine. I love it when I can do that (sadly, not as often as he did).

          Like

          • That is a real talent that your boss has. Everybody does need an editor. Took me a long while to realize that. i’m currently editting Art’s book – whether I’m actually doing any good is debatable. I’m a bit harsh with him, but I refuse to do a cursory job.

            Like

            • He was my old boss. I edit my current boss 😉 . I find that in the first run, folks respond best if you ask questions of them (e.g.: did you mean this or that) and let them know when you’re confused, or when something’s missing. The tweaking then becomes easier to accept!

              Like

              • I’m a heavy red-liner; I love track changes. I turn off the visuals of it in Word and then go to town. It always amazes when I turn it back on again how much I often change, especially my own stuff at work.

                I like your concept, of asking questions. But I never seem to have the time.

                Wanted to thank you for commenting on my beast of a story today Elyse. I think that fairly long and maybe a bit off-base story has sent people scurrying for the hills. All in a day’s work, I guess! And now for some beer…

                Like

                • Actually, I thought it surprisingly hopeful.

                  Your stuff is often difficult — that’s your MO. And I know that I need to be prepared for anything when I click on one of your posts (in fact, I had just sat down to lunch when I read this one. When I read the word “vomit” I decided to wait until I finished!).

                  Your style surprised me because it is often so avante guard and you are very different in comments. I imagine you surprise people! But I think they stay for the beauty of your words.

                  Like

                  • Thank you for that… I was hoping so. In my mind, it’s a story about a girl who just keeps going, no matter what. It’s really about her. The setting is a bit odd, but intended to be secondary… not sure that really worked well though.

                    I have my own theory on why my writing is one way and the comments another, but I can’t for the life of me explain it. I’m such a normal guy, honest. But the writing just spews out of me (sorry to bring up vomit again).

                    Anyway, thanks again for reading, I really do appreciate it. I hate taking up people’s time (WordPress told me it takes 12 minutes to read that story!), but I appreciate it beyond belief.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • Ummmmmm, taking up people’s time is what writing is all about. It’s telling your story. People can make their own decisions about whether to stick around for it. You aren’t forcing anybody to read it as far as I can tell!

                      As to the story being aboout the girl and the setting being secondary — I don’t think you can separate them. In this or any other story. And this is topical — the sort of story we read in the news and think about on a very different level. You made it personal, and that is everything. THAT’s why we write.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • I hear you. And thank you again, think you’re bang on right with everything you just said.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • Well, I am brilliant, after all 😉

                      Like

                    • And soooooo modest…

                      Liked by 1 person

  24. Holy coincidence, Frank just posted that Laurel and Hardy video too…

    Anyway, I think I know Sybil. She’s a cold-hearted bitch who will cut out your heart, of this I am sure. You know, I work in consulting – every minute counts. Every minute is countable. When I have to wade through automated response stuff, I start cringing, thinking of the time that is flying out the door. It’s not much at a time, but adding it up… Aaaaaarghhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Billing time. The bane of my existence, too. I do 15 minute increments; when I worked for one law firm I had to bill in 6 minute intervals. Oy.

      Frank go the video from me. I stole it from Father Kane at The Last of the Milleniums. (Why won’t my link embed)

      Like

      • Who is this Father Kane you speak of?

        I’m at half-hour increments and it drives me insane. 6 minutes? That’s madness.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Father Kane is the source (always attributed) of many of my funniest pictures/videos. He has a great blog — posts multiple times a day. But they are snippets — great posts for nano-breaks during work.

          https://thelastofthemillenniums.wordpress.com/

          Billing time. Yikes. I often work on one long project all day, and then it isn’t so bad. But when I have to do bits and bobs of a bunch of them, oh lord, I hate trying to catch it all. Thankfully, the six-minute bit is history.

          When I was first in DC, I arrived with a group of people I’d known in Boston. At a party, I overheard one guy talking about billable hours. I had always jokingly harassed this guy in Boston, but hadn’t yet seen him in DC. So I made it memorable when I did:

          “Rob,” I said, my voice dripping with superiority, “this is a party. We don’t talk about billable hours at a party, now, do we?

          “But Elyse,” he said, clearly about to defend himself.

          “No, Rob,” I said in the same tone. “We don’t discuss billable hours at parties. Period.”

          And I turned and walked straight into a half wall — my right arm falling down the slope of the wall at a 90 degree angle from the one I’d just hit. And as my arm fell, I hit a switch for all the electricity in the apartment — plunging the entire place into darkness.

          So it was memorable.

          Like

          • I’m about 20 projects a week… makes my head spin. I get a week here and there with only three or four, but thats’ rare.

            Billable hours are right up there with religion and politics. Don’t talk about it! But I got to say, your story made me laugh – you should probably elaborate on that one someday.

            Going to check out Father Kane now – thanks for the tip.

            Liked by 1 person

            • 20 would be hard to balance. I’m usually around 8-10 — but I feel like I go back and forth among them like Ricochet Rabbit, and just do my bests to figure out how much time for each. What a pain.

              I like that story. You always bring out my stories!

              You’ll like Father Kane, I promise.

              Like

              • Checked him out, very funny stuff. I’m always leery about people who post really often, but his stuff is easy to consume. Will have to follow along.

                Sometimes it’s more than 20… feels like a few minutes here and there, all adding up to something. I actually kind of like flipping between jobs and clients… it’s exhausting but makes me feel important. Yes, I am that shallow!

                Looking forward to you bringing out that story in more detail… billable hour humour is right next to my wee little consulting heart.

                Like

                • That really was the whole story, I’m afraid. I sat down on the couch in the dark and laughed and laughed. I didn’t see the guy for several years after that — but as soon as he saw me he smirked. Oy vey!

                  Liked by 1 person

  25. If you can’t can’t get no satisfaction then press 1…

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I pretty much only read my own blogs. (I’m probably my biggest fan.) Oh wait I just read your blog. Never mind! (Press 4 to delete me.)

    Liked by 1 person

  27. I hate Sybil. I have screamed every curse word in the book at her. I wouldn’t treat a real human being the way I treat Sybil, no matter how much I hated the person. But Sybil is not real, and I hate her more than any human on earth, and I’ve murdered this non-living person many times in my mind. Glad you hate her too.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. LOL, now you’ve reminded me of one of my old posts! About the jockstraps. Gee, an oldie but goodie because . . . hey, you’re right, this is a long-standing problem!!! Phone service, not jockstraps.

    Like

  29. “And nine times out of ten, the human I have reached is the wrong human in the wrong department”—This is what drives me crazy. I finally tell my story to a human, only to find out I have to speak to someone else. So I relay the information all over again. And find out I’m still speaking to the wrong person. And on and on it goes. Ugh.

    Over four years you’ve been blogging? Wow, impressive!

    Like

    • Since I’ve had so much experience now with Sybil, I am already angry when I pick up the phone. That never helps!

      And yup. Four years — I started in May of 2011! I run hot and cold on it, though. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes I go for weeks without posting anything. That’s the benefit of having no schedule!

      Like

  30. I believe I have pushed Sybil’s buttons a number of times, too.

    Wait, that didn’t come out right, did it.

    As for my older posts, I have begun re-blogging them for the benefit of my newer readers. I’m always amazed at how much better I wrote at the beginning of my blogging adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too my writing is so much better in the old posts. I think I was more concerned about getting things perfect than I am now. Because they never are!

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, no, no, no. Unlike yours, many (most?) of my early posts are dreadful and embarrassing, while my later posts are just embarrassing.

        Anyway, “People need to grumble in their native tongue.” Yes. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

        • I have been following you for a long time — I don’t know how long you’ve been blogging. So I don’t think they’re dreadful.

          Embarrassing, yes. So are many of mine. In fact, one of my tags is “Why Do I Tell You This Stuff Anyway?” Because seriously. Why do I feel the need to humiliate myself? (Could be why this is a more or less anonymous blog!

          Liked by 1 person

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