Insane phone system circles

I’ve been caught up in a few insane automated phone system circles in my life. This one, care of T-Mobile, is not the worst but it is the first one I have managed to get a recording of.

The initial explanation for adding automated phone systems (“press one for customer services…”) was to save both the company and the customer time – the phonecall could swiftly be allocated to the best person.

Over time though – as we had always suspected – it has become clear that the reason to introduce them is to stop you calling at all. The only reason you’re calling is because you’ve already handed over your money so fuck you. You’re not a good return on investment. If companies ever want new customers to call, they produce a separate number which never, ever has an automated system at the end of it.

Anyway, this one from T-Mobile was particularly stark because it effectively cut me off when I wouldn’t play ball. Once companies had decided that everyone had touch-tone phones so they could pull out immediate access to an operator, they moved the operator option to the end of the selection (“or hold to speak to an operator”). Recently, this has moved back to the second iteration of options – if you don’t press by then, you finally get through to a human.

But T-Mobile is breaking new ground – it’s runs through the options three times and then says simply: “Sorry you’re having trouble” and stops. And that’s it. Total silence. You’re left in limbo until you hit one of the designated buttons.

My major problem with this was two-fold. One: none of the options offered covered what I wanted to ask them – which was a technical question about getting email on my phone – so I held on waiting for an operator.

And secondly, it doesn’t matter what option you press, you get through to the exact same call centre to people who don’t have a clue about the options you’ve been religiously typing in. Who then ask you not only for your mobile number (which you’ve already inputted into the phone) but also ask what you are calling for. The entire automated phone system is a complete waste of everyone’s time and effort.

This is the rundown for this particular automated nightmare:

  • to make a payment press one
  • to report your phone lost or stolen or to report a fault press two
  • to upgrade your phone press three
  • for blocked sims, puk codes or delivery progress information press four
  • for information on price plans, current promotions, to purchase an additional line or information on content lock press five
  • to repear these options press hash
  • Sorry I did not hear you make a choice…

Do you see/hear a tech support option there? Wouldn’t it be nice if companies were obliged by law to have a human operator as an option on ever automated phone system?


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