When the phone rang today, I was happy to hear my dad's voice on the other end after I answered. It wasn't just that I was glad to talk with him and catch up with what's going on in his corner of the world; it was that there was a real live human being on the line with me. That seemed to be a rarity today, although I can't say that today was much different than most lately.
Part of it is that our primary elections are next Tuesday so there are plenty of phone calls urging us to vote for this candidate or that one, all of which are pre-recorded messages. Just as well...a real person would be wasting their breath since we took advantage of early voting and have already cast our ballots. And don't get me started on the obnoxious political call we receive over and over again that starts out Tired of getting your ASSets taxed of? I'd vote for that candidate's opponent just because I can't stand the message but that would require that I listen to enough of it to determine just who it's promoting. That won't be happening.
But that was just one of the automated calls we received today. There was one to remind Wayne of his doctor's appointment on Friday. Press 1 to confirm your appointment. And there was some sales-based call; I suppose a real person would have come on the line once the initial spiel was over but I didn't hang around to find out. Let's don't forget the two calls where no one was there to respond to my cheery Hello. The computer dials but doesn't talk, and the human who doesn't dial was busy with some other victim prospect.
As frustrating as these are, they don't compare to the call Wayne received a few days ago. It was from the insurance company that carries his drug coverage and they wanted to know why he had stopped taking one of his prescriptions. Only problem is...he hasn't; that pill goes down his throat once a day just like always. It isn't a pricey drug, just his $4 co-pay, so apparently Walmart doesn't file anything with the insurance company anymore since they aren't entitled to any additional sums. Try explaining that to a recording.
Did you stop taking the drug because of its cost? Did the condition for which you were taking the drug improve and you no longer need the medicine? Did you have an adverse reaction to the medication? There were plenty of questions on the recorded message to which you punched in a key on the phone to answer yes or no but none to say you've got it all wrong. I could hear the frustration in his voice as he muttered that he was still taking the medication but it was all in vain; there was no way to leave a message and no option to reach a real person. I understand the economics behind these automated calls, really I do. But that doesn't make me like them any better.
Someone said that if e-mail had been around before the telephone was invented, people would have said Hey, forget e-mail...with this new telephone invention we can actually talk to people. Little did he know how wrong that was. More often than not, we can only talk to machines.