Real people, please

The other day, I had to make a telephone call because of a problem with our television service. Even before I called, I knew how things would go. And sure enough, I was right.

When I called, the call was answered immediately. But not by some nice sounding person. It was answered by a nice sounding recorded person. The voice asked if I wanted to order a program. It asked if I wanted to continue in English. It asked me to say what I was calling about.

I must confess that I feel really silly talking to a recording. But that is what it expected me to do. And then the computer brain behind the recording would try to figure out what I said and then provide a recorded message in response. What is it about talking to a recording that just doesn’t seem right? I’m not sure. But it is artificial. And strange.

Just imagine if you came to my house and I had a plastic dog sitting in the den. I said, “Go on over and pet the plastic dog. It won’t bite!” So you walk over and pet the plastic dog. It senses your touch and makes a pre-recorded barking sound. And you feel loved, right? Well, no.

But maybe I am on to something. With the soaring popularity of these automated calls, maybe I can make some money selling plastic dogs!

Anyway, back to my phone call. The recording said, “What is it that you are calling about today?”

I thought about what to say for a few seconds, and then I came up with the best answer I could think of. “I want to speak to customer service!”

And right away, I was transferred to a real, live person, who was more than happy - and able - to help me with the problem I had called about. So as it turns out, I did get what I wanted by talking to the recording.

Maybe computers aren’t so dumb, after all.