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Pwease hep me unnerstand

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

There are two things that I hate. OK, really I could write for a week about all of the things I hate, but for today there are two things that I'm worried about: asking for help and telephone support lines.

Unfortunately, both have been irritating me lately. After an unfortunate lightning strike at my home, both my wife and I have been trying to get everything connected and working the way it was before Mother Nature screwed everything up. The problem with that is no longer is there one wire that connects two units together. No, now there is a red wire, a white wire and a yellow wire and if you don't have that then there is a black wire, blah, blah, blah.

My wife and I were having some trouble getting the right things connected in the right way, so it was time to call the telephone support line. In other words, we voluntarily chose to torture ourselves.

Fortunately for us, companies are always thinking of the customers. Now they have what is known as speech recognition systems and let me tell you that they are wonderful. For those of you who don't know what speech recognition systems are, let me explain. You call a number and a computer answers and asks you a series of questions to which you respond. The computer then logs those answers and sends you to the right operator. This would be great if the system actually recognized voices.

Here is a little example:

Computer: Would you like this session in English, French, Spanish, etc?

Me: English.

Computer: I'm sorry, please repeat.

Me: English.

Computer: Please speak clearly into the phone when answering the questions.

Me: English you stupid--(the rest has been censored for print)

It's my belief that companies designed this worthless machine with the intention to discourage people with problems to call all the while taking away the jobs of a large number of employees. I guess the worthless computer didn't recognize my Missouri accent. Imagine those people who live in the Deep South or up in Boston. While it took me 20 minutes to finally get through the speech recognition system it might take them a week.

Of course, when I finally got to an operator, I couldn't understand him. Can I please talk to the computer again?

Why is it every time I call telephone support I get somebody who I understand less than my 2-year-old nephew when he is babbling incoherently? I don't care if there are immigrants who are working in this country but don't put them on the telephone if they can't be understood.

Really, are these guys just hired sight unseen, or voice unheard? Or maybe the conspiracy theory goes deeper than just worthless speech recognition systems. Maybe companies don't want to be bothered so much they hire operators that can barely speak English. By the time you're through, you never want to pick up the telephone again. Believe me, I'm there.

So after five minutes of me asking Mr. Ali Nospeakenglish to repeat himself because I couldn't understand what he was saying I finally got it. "What is your problem?" Why did I have to go through 20 minutes of fighting with a computer explaining what my problem was if I was going to have to explain it all again?

Finally I tell Mr. Nospeakenglish that I can't get a picture through my TiVo and then he attempted to help me solve my problem. It went something like this.

Mr. Nospeakenglish: Tek de cauwds bum de quanswole.

Me: I don't understand.

Mr. Nospeakenglish: Tek de c, as in chwarwie, o as in optometrist, --

Me: Can I have someone who speaks English?

Mr. Nospeakenglish: I dwo tauwk Engwhich.

Me: Please repeat and remember to speak clearly into the phone when giving instructions (I picked that one up from the computer).

Of course, eventually I just handed my phone to my wife. She deals with little children everyday so I felt she could understand them better than I could. I was wrong.

But really, is it too much to ask for somebody who speaks English to get a job that's main requirement is to speak English? Maybe I'm intolerant, but I don't care. It seems like there are plenty of people in this country who speak English and need work. Can't one of them explain to me how to hook my TiVo up correctly?

Eventually that is what I got, thanks to my wife and Mr. Nospeakenglish. Of course, that was after my wife threatened to hunt Mr. Nospeakenglish down with a dull knife to cut out his tongue if he didn't speak to where she could understand him.

Maybe Mr. Nospeakenglish could come and work for me. How cool would that be to have him as my personal secretary? Nobody would ever call and complain about one of my columns again. That and if Mother Nature ever took my TiVo again I would have somebody who could actually understand the telephone support operator.



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