OT Technology rant

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New insurance policy. As a matter of course, company runs a "mini" credit report on you. Fine. Nothing to hide.
Having done so, I guess they are obliged to allow you free access to that information (because they used it to make a business decision pertaining to you?).
Call or write. Of course, call is easier.
End up talking to a machine. Well, that's understandable. After all, this is a "routine" request, not requiring any *judgement* on the part of the machine!
"Please say and spell your last name" I do so. "Please say and spell your last name" I do so, again. Ennunciating even more clearly for the stupid machine. "Please say and spell your last name" A bit annoyed, I repeat the exercise -- wondering how many MORE times the stewpit machine will quiz me on this.
"OK, I've saved your response" Hmmm... that sounds ominous. OTOH, maybe it would be too hard for it to try to pronounce the variety of names it likely encounters (mine isn't "Smith" -- nor "Jones"!)
"Please say and spell your first name" Donald. D O N A L D "Great! That's Donald"
"Please enter your birthdate as MM DD YYYY" I do so. "Great! That's yada yada yada"
"Please say and spell your last name" Crap! Not this again! "Please say and spell your last name" I do so, again. "Please say and spell your last name" Jump through the hoop yet one more time...
"OK, I've saved your response" Ah, so that's code for "I don't know what the hell you said!"
"Please say and spell your first name" Wait! Didn't we already *do* this?? Do you think my name has changed in the minute or two since I *last* spelled it for you? <grrr> Donald. D O N A L D "Great! That's Donald"
"Please enter your 5 digit ZIP code" xxxxx "Great!"
"Please enter your house number" yyyyy "Great!'
"Which insurance company refered you to us?" aaaaaaaa "Great!"
"When the insurance company contacted us, we assigned a 14 digit (!!!) identifier to their request for information concerning you. Do you have that number?" Yes
"Please provide that number" ############## "Great!"
"Do you have a driver's license?" (D'uh! Why would I be looking into car insurance WITHOUT one?) Yes. "Which state issued your license?" kkkkk "What is your driver's license number?" A123... (interrupted) "What is your driver's license number?" A123... (interrupted, yet again) "What is your driver's license number?" A12345678 "OK, I've saved your response" Sure, too stupid to sort out the LETTER in the "number", eh??
"What is your mailing address? ....
This went on for probably 10 minutes (though it sure felt like 15!).
This is the problem with American businesses, nowadays: they cut THEIR costs (i.e., not having a live human being ask me these questions in the course of *one* minute) by pushing those costs (in this case, *time*) onto their customers.
Consider: that 14 digit identifier is big enough to identify each man woman and child (in case any 3-year-olds want to buy insurance and need their credit checked!) 30,000 times over! So, *just* that number should have been sufficient to identify the person making the request. Add to that the ZIP code, house number, first name, date of birth, etc. and they've got more than enough information to UNIQUELY identify the request with far greater certainty than folks going to the gas chamber based on "99.9997% accurate" DNA evidence.
Of course, as I have only a short windo in which to get this information under this request, I'll send a written request also. And, some bozo at the receiving end will have to process that paperwork and wonder why it appears to be a duplicate. Maybe I can "waste" 10 minutes of *their* time?? :-/
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On 9/10/2015 4:01 PM, Don Y wrote:

Told the wife yesterday that someone needs to develop a machine for the home owner to deal with robo calls.
All you would have to do is dial the number and your robo caller would answer all the robo receivers questions.
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On 9/10/2015 1:19 PM, Frank wrote:

I've been working on a larger version of this problem: designing a device to be an "automated attendant". Imagine how a secretary handles the calls he/she "intercepts" on behalf of his/her boss: - some calls are politely discarded (folks selling replacement windows) - some calls are put through with priority (spouse is on the line) - some calls are prompted to leave a message - some calls are put on hold while boss is consulted etc.
I.e., the secretary "learns" the boss's preferences/priorities for incoming calls and then efficiently applies those to the calls received. He/she *recognizes* the voice of the boss's spouse, has other ways of identifying specific callers, etc. instead of dumping those tasks on the boss's lap.
"If Tom calls, tell him I'll meet him at the Club after work" "I'm expecting a call from my wife. *FIND* me when it comes!" "If that bozo headhunter calls again, tell him I died!" "Ignore all calls from telemarketers"
With this, you should be able to only answer the phone when the attendant decides you *should*! The rest of the time, the phone needn't even RING!
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On 9/10/2015 4:28 PM, Don Y wrote:

I was thinking of calls that you place and have to spend several minutes with their robo answerer.
If you called and got a robo, your robo would take over and provide answers. Your robo would be pre-programmed to give all the answers.
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On 9/10/2015 4:49 PM, Frank wrote:

Ah! I understand.

I'm not sure I would want to trust a device with deciding what information to universally "leak" to those who ask for it.
E.g., the call I was commenting about (up-thread) asked for my SSN but indicated that giving it would be optional. I'm not keen on providing that -- especially when it *shouldn't* be needed.
It's amazing how much information folks "require" that isn't truly necessary. "Why do you need that?"
If you went to purchase a pair of shoes and the salesman asked for your name and address, why would you comply with that request? "I'm paying cash. How does my name and address factor into this transaction??"
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Don Y wrote:

Often times if you punch # sign or 0(zero) warm body comes on. If you have to answer numbers like 1,2,3(one, two, three), just punch in 1,2,3. My insurance agency, bank, lawyer, accountant are all located in the vicinity. 10 mins. drive at the most. I can deal every thing in person.

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On 9/10/2015 5:23 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

I tried that. I even made sure I called "during normal work hours" to ensure someone *would* be there. But, it's a nationwide service so doesn't make sense for them to have live staff for a service that they don't make any *money* performing!
And, it *should* be a no-brainer application to automate. Just make something that can recognize spoken digits and letters and you can handle all of the data entry! The only reason to ask the user to pronounce his/her name is if a HUMAN will have to eventually try to suss out what was said: having a spelling *and* pronunciation can make that easier.

In some cases, they allowed DTMF input. In other cases, when I did so, it complained "I'm sorry, I didn't understand you".
As I said, it was just a piss poor implementation!

I don't think any of those are offices for nationwide credit reporting agencies! :> I can phone my insurance agent, bank, accountant, lawyer, doctor, etc. and talk to a real person -- no "machine" getting in the way. If push comes to shove, someone will take a message and have them return my call (e.g., doctor is typically "seeing a patient" when I call; I wouldn't want him to have to run out and take my call at *my* convenience... I wouldn't be happy if he was running out of the examination room to answer a call when *I* was there!)
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Don Y wrote:

You are very considerate.
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On 09/10/2015 07:23 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:
[snip]

And often not. Or, you get a person who's not any better.

One reason I got cable TV instead of satellite. The cable company has a local office and I can go there and talk to a real person.
BTW, that sat customer service was real bad. I told them the problem had been fixed, and they messed me up again.
[snip]
--
105 days until the winter celebration (Friday December 25, 2015 12:00:00
AM for 1 day).
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On 09/10/2015 07:09 PM, Don Y wrote:
[snip]

I used to buy a lot of stuff at Radio Shack with cash. They always asked. AFAIK, all they did with that data was send advertising (including the "free" 5-D-cell flashlight, batteries not included).
--
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AM for 1 day).
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On 9/11/2015 10:23 AM, Mark Lloyd wrote:

Exactly. For folks *so* intent on "I have to do this", I have no problems staring them in the eyes and giving them a bogus name, address and phone number, if they insist. Am I breaking a law by doing so? Am I pissing them off? :>
If they want to be unreasonable, I can surely be just as unreasonable! :>
My wife used to write a lot of checks. Businesses would ask her to write our phone number on the check (as it wasn't preprinted). She would. I quizzed her: What would they need that for? In case the check bounced? Have we ever bounced a check? Are we ever LIKELY to bounce a check? No! Then, they will NEVER need to call that number! So, they can just as easily NEVER call a WRONG number!! :>
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On 9/11/2015 1:23 PM, Mark Lloyd wrote:

Those 5D flash lights were bulky, but they sure were bright. Now days, some LED and cree emitter lights are smaller and brighter, both.
- . Christopher A. Young learn more about Jesus . www.lds.org . .
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Someone has. Visit nomorobo.com .
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On 9/10/2015 5:10 PM, Doug Miller wrote:

remind me of appointments for example.
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On 9/10/2015 4:57 PM, Frank wrote:

Exactly. Our local library gives you a courtesy notification when you have an overdrawn item (so you can promptly return it within the grace period). And, can alert you when items you've reserved have arrived for you. Doctors/dentists/laboratories/etc. all call to remind you of appointments, give you instructions to follow prior to your visit, cancel/reschedule your existing appointments, etc.
OTOH, just because you are willing to *receive* the message doesn't mean that you need to be *disturbed* by it the moment it arrives!
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On 09/10/2015 06:57 PM, Frank wrote:
[snip]

I get those. The bot takes too long to start talking, and I'm about to hang up since no one's there. They're often painfully slow, like
"The ........................... time ........................... is .......................................... twelve ------------------------------------------- thir ------------------------- teen ------------------------------------------------------ pee ------------------------------------- emm"
--
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Those come through for us.

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Doug Miller wrote:

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I find that totally inadequate. I'm not going to listen to a phone ring until my answering machine kicks in.
Nomorobo works good though. Does not stop doctor calls, etc.
There are devices that do the job too.
--
Dan Espen

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Doug Miller wrote:

just punch.
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