From the Washington Spectator
IS ANYONE THERE?
HOW TO GET A REAL HUMAN BEING ON THE LINE
More and more, our phone calls to airlines, banks, credit card companies, Internet providers- and even telephone companies-are answered by automated systems.
It gets harder and harder to reach a human being. Peppy computerized voices try to coach us on how to crack the code and make the appropriate telephone key punches to reach as many as five or six "options."
Punching the "operator" button in desperation often kicks us backs to "the main menu," to start all over again, or in some cases it disconnects the call. "Hello, Mars?"
It's an annoyance that has finally made the news. In its new "Personal Journal" section, the Wall Street Journal (May 8, 2002) had a reporter tell about sampling the non-toll, 800 phone numbers of dozens of the companies that it says are spending $7.4 million this year to computerize incoming phone calls.
This report gives a few sneaky clues.
That kind of wait became such an annoyance to Ralph Nader that in a recent column he says he called the CEO of U.S. Air, Steve Wolfe, to complain about a 40-minute wait, and to dare him to try its 800 number himself. Nader claims that his CEO-punching persuaded Wolfe to call him back to claim that he was hiring 250 new customer service operators.