Tuesday, February 3, 2009

La Ventana

Today I have spent more time on the phone "talking" to voice-automated systems than any human being should ever be expected to endure. Don't get me wrong. In the right environment, voice-automated systems (referred to hereafter as VAS) are a life-saver. I have yet to stumble across such an environment myself, but am confident that it does exist. Why else would there be any VAS? I do have a theory loosely based on some sort of elaborate prank where real people listen-in to hear customers scream their account numbers and options ("SPEAK TO A #$%@ REPRESENTATIVE!!") into the phone, but these VAS have been around far too long now to justify my suspicions.

After listening to list after list of menu options, has anyone else ever wondered why none of them have anything to do with what YOU are calling about? Do you ever start to wonder if something is wrong with YOU, that YOU would have a question that doesn't fit perfectly into the obviously thorough and nicely-organized menu formula? Anyone else love how "speak to a representative" is always the last option, whispered and spoken in a thick accent to throw you off, so you accidentally hit (or voice command) the wrong thing, have to hang up, call back, and go through the whole thing again?

Have you ever decided, after a half an hour on hold, to bag it and go to the company's website? After all, the dripping-with-honey voice intermittently assured you (between delightful, repetitive phrases of music) that it would be a faster alternative, sure to solve your problems down to the last drop. Ever find the aforementioned website, read it from stem to stern, and STILL not find an option that even hints at YOUR problem?

It's enough to make a person call back just so they can scream commands at a VAS! Maybe THAT is the purpose of VAS. Maybe they're not there to help us work through any account issues. Maybe they are simply put in place to give customers somewhere to vent their frustrations.

But heaven help the poor actual customer service person who finally picks up the receiver after a girl has been forced to play the game of voice-automated ping-pong all day long!

Maybe I'll just refer them to a nice VAS. They provide excellent ventilation.

p.s. I know the title means "the window." But I don't know how to say "to vent" in Spanish. So sue me. Everyone else does. It's great sport.

p.p.s. I shouldn't write when I'm in a raunchy mood.

So sue me.


Rozel said...

The minute I hear that irritating VAS I immediately say "representative" at least 100 times until I get a representative. When did they think that pressing 1, 2, or 3 was inferior to the VAS? You should make your own commercial.

auxing - Quit auxing the VAS questions.

sharlee said...

Oh yes, I've been spending a lot of time lately VASing. I'm always amazed that my answers (albeit only the choices given) are accepted no matter how angry or loud I say them. They must plan for that.
I hate those things and you described them so well. You make me laugh my dear. Thanks!

Christy said...

HAHAHAHAHA...you are so funny Andrea. I actually had to call a few numbers today where I spent much time- TOO much time on a VAS! Argh! I sometimes get so annoyed, that I just press 0-0-0-0-0 over and over again until I get someone! I lack patience.

Stephanie said...

I completely understand your frustration. I mean, who doesn't when calling the pharmacy or even Toy's-R-Us puts you in VAS limbo. I read once to just push 0. I recently tried that only to get the response, "I'm sorry (yeah, like the computer is an "I" anyway), but that is not a valid entry." Oh yeah, I'll show you a valid entry!!!! Love the prank idea, though.

Amber said...

So you have made me laugh twice today. Once with your comment on my blog and now this. So once I threw a phone across a room after a ridiculous VAS encounter. I was trying to find out info about of escrow account, so i called my mortgage company. It said, in its almost nails on a chalkboard voice, "In a few words, please tell us why you're calling." So I said, clear as day, "Escrow account." And the brilliant VAS said, "Did you say portfolio?" And I said, "no. I said escrow account." And it said, "Did you say portfolio?" And I said, "no, stupid. I did not say portfolio, I said escrow account." And it said, "Okay, portfolio." And then I proceeded to throw the phone across the room.

Lena said...

Breathe deep...I understand how you feel...if it makes you feel any better, I burst into tears one time when I finally got a real person, and that was AFTER I had tearfully screamed not very appropriate words at the VAS...at this point my mother took the phone and told me she would take care of business on my behalf (and yes, I was a grown woman--but, in my defense I had just gotten home from the hospital after having a c-section and I was in SERIOUS pain and REALLY needed the pain medication that I was trying to figure out how to get! My BP goes up just remembering...)