Thursday, 25 December 2014

Voice Mail: Press 1 For Aggravation

There are a lot of things that annoy me and near the top of the list is something I have to deal with on an almost daily basis: voice mail.  Anyone who has ever made a phone call knows exactly what I'm talking about.  I can still remember the old answering machines.  Whenever you called and no one was there to answer the phone, you would get a voice recording of the person you were calling telling you to leave a message, then you would hear a beep telling you to begin recording.  Plain and simple, right?  But now, for some stupid reason, getting a voice recording of the person you're trying to call isn't enough.  Now you often get a voice recording, then a really annoying automated message telling you something like this: "At the tone, please record your message, when you are finished your recording you can hang up, or press pound (#) for more options.  To leave a callback number that you can be reached at, press 1."  What a mouthful!  What's the point?  Is the voice recording telling you to leave a message not enough?  Are we so stupid that we need another automated message telling us how to leave a message?  The answer to these questions is definitely not.  People have been using voice mail since the 80s, or maybe even before.  It's not like we don't know how to leave messages and we need some annoying machine to tell us how to do it.  Though just to be fair, at least most people leave a personal recording on their voice mail.

Some people don't even bother leaving voice recordings on their answering machines.  At most, when you call them, you might get an automated recording that says, "you have reached," then you hear the voice of the person you're calling saying their name followed by another automated voice telling you to leave a message.  And then there are the folks that want to remain anonymous, where you get an automated recording saying, "You have reached," followed by the machine reading out the phone number then telling you to record a message.  This drives me nuts!  Okay, I understand if people want privacy, but how am I supposed to know if I'm calling the right number when I can't hear anything that tells me who it belongs to?  As you can tell, voice mail belonging to individual people is annoying enough.  But what about when you're trying to call a company?  Oy veh!

I'm sure that everyone reading this has had to go through the aggravation of calling companies like Rogers, Bell or Telus whenever you have a problem with your phone, cable or internet.  We all know that before you can speak to a real person, you have to go through their annoying automated service.  "For customer service, press 1.  For technical support, press 2."  You get the idea.  Unfortunately, pressing one number on your phone usually leads you to another automated message giving you another set of options, then another, then another.  Is rage building yet?  Well I hope you packed some patience, because when the company's automated system finally tells you that it's transferring your call to someone with flesh and blood, that message is usually followed by another telling you that all representatives are assisting other customers and that you have to hold for the next available representative.  If this isn't bad enough, they usually put on some really crappy music for you to listen to until a human being finally takes your call.

Even smaller companies will often have annoying and unnecessarily complicated voice mail.  It usually begins with an automated voice telling you to begin speaking after the tone and press any key when you're done.  Once you've recorded your message and pressed a key to finish recording, you have to listen to more automated mumbo jumbo telling you to press 1 to send your message, press 2 to re-record your message, press 3 to mark your message urgent...Oh man, enough already!

Unfortunately, I don't see any of this changing any time soon.  In fact, it will probably get worst since we seem to be replacing everything that used to have a human touch with machines.   

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