Thursday, July 13, 2006

Talking To A Robot.

Ok, I need to make a pre-emptive warning.

A couple nights ago, Buddy, in his infinite wisdom, decided that my modem cable looked damn tasty and chewed through it.

(I have no idea what’s wrong with this dog. What part of the canine psyche can ignore a full bowl of dog food, yet see the four day old, partially rotted remnants of a meal, covered in garbage juice and coffee grounds and think ‘Mmmm, tasty!’)

The idiot has a whole box filled with chew toys, but instead he chooses the wire that’s flowing with electric current. Oh, and yes, he has been zapped a few times, but keeps going back for more.

Anyway, we had the cable guy out today to replace the wire. Everything ran fine, but I’ve noticed the cable modem is dropping its signal every now and again. It’ll inexplicably stop working for a few hours, then come back on just as randomly.

So tonight, it went off just as Sunny was leaving for work (Which just proves fate has a sense of humor. I try to stay off the internet while Sunny is home, and do the bulk of my surfing while she’s at work.)

So I called the cable company.

What a mistake that was.

I mean the people are nice enough and knowledgeable enough…but actually getting to speak to a person is a feat in itself.

I think there should be some sort of test for internet users, and if you’re at my skill level, when you call, they’ll just send someone out to check the equipment. It would save a lot of hassle.

So I get the robot voice, only this one isn’t a ‘press one’ or ‘press two’ robot. It’s one of those that wants you to talk to it.

Now, I’ve nothing against voice recognition software. However, when the voice recognition is set for a South Carolina accent, and I’m speaking Northern British, it gets bloody annoying.

This leads to me trying to talk to the damn thing in my very, very poor impression of an SC accent. Just to add a little humiliation to the hassle.

Now, this robot thinks it’s clever. It would actually be bloody useful if I didn’t have the first thing about computers. It said:

“All our operators are busy, so lets go through the first few steps they’d ask you to do.”

So the damn thing has me unplugging things, plugging things back in etc.

Now, this would be helpful, only that what it’s telling me to do, I’ve already done at least ten times over the past hour. Unplug the modem and plug it back in. Check the co-ax is properly connected. Connect the modem directly to the main cable line, in case the splitter’s faulty. Blah, blah, blah, blah blah!

In short, if you were in my living room with me, you’d see the odd human drama of me pacing up and down the living room, getting more and more frustrated shouting “Continue!” and “Yes!” and “No!” at random intervals in a bad SC accent.

Oh, it was fun.

Finally, the robot admits defeat and puts me on to a real person:

“Hello, Charter Internet, how can I help.”

“Oh, hello, finally…Right, I’ve been having a problem with my…”

“Oh, hey! I like your accent!”

“Thank you, I’m British.” (This was cute the first few times, but every time I call ANY business, they always compliment me on my accent. I don’t want to sound like a dick here, but when I’ve been talking to a robot for half an hour, and spent another 20 minutes on hold, I want my problem solved, not a discussion of Comparative Linguistic Variations).

“Oh, great! What was your problem?”

“Right, I had one of your technicians out today to replace a cable. Everything was working fine, but it just went off about an hour ago. Yes, I’ve cycled the modem, yes I’ve checked all the wires, yes I’ve checked my TCP/IP settings, and I’ve also tried connecting the modem to the main cable feed, so it isn’t the splitter. The modem is refusing to lock on to your signal, the ready light isn’t coming on, and the sync light is flashing. I’m not trying to be a know-all, but I’m very experienced with computers and either there’s a problem at your end, or my modem’s faulty.”

(Just to be clear here, I don’t like being rude, but as anyone will tell you, there’s nothing more annoying that being lead step by step through a long and tedious diagnostic procedure that you’ve done yourself at least three times.)

“Ohhh…(Pause). Umm, is the computer on now?”


“Ok, I want you to click run, the type CMD…”

“…Then run Ipconfig, and tell you my IP address?”



(I didn’t actually say x a bunch of times, I just don’t like publishing my IP address)

Eventually, they admitted defeat.

“Right, because this is a repeat call, I’ll put you through to our billing department, and they might be able to get someone out to you today. I don’t have the authority to do that, so explain the situation to them, and they’ll get someone out there quick.”

I got that awful hold music, then the recording of the overly enthusiastic guy trying to sell me more products. (I’ve never understood that. I’m calling because the shit I’m already paying them for isn’t working. Why would I want to buy more crap from them?)

Then the line went dead.

I called back.

Long story short, I was told that there might be an intermittent outage, but they’ll send someone anyway.

So, if you don’t hear from me for a few days, it’s because my internet is jiggered.


OzzyC said...

I'm laughing at the thought of a Brit trying to pull off a southern accent..

BTW, the voice recognizing automated response centers will generally recognize pressing 1 for yes and 2 for no. That should save you some hassle in the future.

And oh yeah, I like your accent

Saffyre said...

Incidentally, if you just ignore the voice and stay silent, it will probably just get fed up and transfer you to an agent. Likewise with 'press one for....' machines. If you press nothing, it confuses them and they just put you through to a person.

Paulius said...

Unfortunately, this was a 'diagnostic' automated message, so it wasn't yes or no answers.

It even asked you to describe your problem in a single sentence. I tried staying quiet, but it just kept saying "I'm sorry, I didn't understand that." Then it would repeat the question.

Let's just say that they're very, very lucky that if you've gone through all that, it remembers it when you call back after getting cut off. If I'd had to go through all that again, I'd have gone postal.