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September 12, 2002

Phones and Intelligence

Why is it that when it comes to phones, people seem to lose most of their intelligence and common sense? It's not likes phones and phone system are really that complicated. We once were dorm parents for a boarding school, and the main switchboard was routed through our phone on the weekends. The previous dorm parents had simply taken messages and left them with whoever, on Mondays. Well it was one of those systems that allows you to put someone on hold by "flashing" the receiver (tapping those buttons that usually hang up the phone) so when I got a call for someone who I knew was on campus, I flashed the receiver, called them, when they answered told them they had an incoming call and hung up. I continued this until one of the administrators who happened to live on campus, got on to me. Seems his intension was to use us to avoid getting calls, and he had no idea anyone could actually transfer a call in that way. No one had bothered to read the instructions that came with the phone system.

Another time I worked at a place that got a new computerized phone system which worked in a similar way, except that whoever programmed it had the bright idea of adding a computer voice to transferred calls that would say "Transferring a call to you." So when you got a call, it went something like this:

Caller: Is John Smith in?
You: Hang on, I'll transfer you.
[flash, dial John Smith]
John Smith's secretary: Hello.
You: Hi, you have an incoming call from [insert caller's name here]
JS's Sec.: Ok, thanks.
Computerized voice to JS's Sec.: [click] TRANSFERRING A CALL TO YOU. [click]

So my question was, what idiot just transfers a call without checking to see if the person's in, and not letting them know what they're doing. No one where I worked would do. That's a quick way to get fired. I've called places that do that, and they're usually run by morons. So what possible purpose would the computerized voice serve? You already know you're being directed to the person you asked for. Do they think you won't believe it unless you hear the recorded voice of the actress they hired to do the voice?

More biggest bete noir (that's French for pet peeve) are these automated, computerized answering things, that don't wait for you to get the phone to your ear. It goes like this:

Computer voice: Please input your account number now.
[you take the phone away from your ear to press the keys, then put the phone back to your ear to hear . . .]
Computer voice: . . . followed by the pound key.

So you stare at the phone thinking, "What, followed by the pound key?!?"

You hang up, dial in again, input your account number pausing at the last digit to position your thumb over it while sliding the phone to your ear. Except these phones were not made to be dialed when held to your ear, so the tone is extra loud so you can hear it from several feet away. Right next to your ear the tone is deafening. But you manage you hear "BEEEEEEEP . . . your zip code, followed by the pound key." So through the tears of pain welled up after having your ear drum pierced by the loud tone directly in your ear, you manage to make out the buttons for your zip code. Question by painful question you make your way through the computerized gauntlet until you finally get to your destination.

That's why I try to do my business either in person or online.

Comments

Posted by Jack Lewis at September 12, 2002 11:16 AM