Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Yes, I have a complaint

Two questions:

1) If one tries to ring Telstra to find out what, if any, one's options are for dealing with some idiot who wants to send a fax, has wrongly keyed one's own phone number into the machine and then walked away, so that my phone is now ringing every six minutes and emitting high-pitched noises at me when I pick up and I can't disconnect because my dad is sick and someone might be trying to call me, and, having rung Telstra, one gets redirected to some other number and routed through four, count 'em, four different voicebots only to be told that there is a long wait because they have 'more complaints than usual' (well, that'll be days then, won't it), is this all so that Sol Trujillo can get his $12 million a year?

2) Does anyone have any tips about producing one's voice in such a way as to maximise the chances of the voice recognition software actually understanding one when one says anything more complex than 'yes' or 'no'?


Jen at Semantically driven said...

I've found out the hard way that their voice recognition software doesn't know what to do when you're yelling at your son while they're trying to elicit responses from you. 'Sorry we do not understand that command'. Just give me a bloody person to speak to already!

Henry said...

I deal with voice "recognition" robots by keeping perfectly silent and thinking evil thoughts. That usually bumps me to a moderately functional human within a minute or two.

Anonymous said...

Have you tried a Dalek impersonation?


TimT said...

Re 2) - No!

All known languages seem to fail on voice recognition software. Swearing, cursing, speaking slower than usual, speaking louder/faster than usual, adopting a firm but reasonable tone, amongst others.

You could try speaking binary at it.

Does anyone know how to speak binary?

Ampersand Duck said...

I tried a lexicon of very rude words, and ended up like Jen, and then adopted Harry's technique (independently, I might add. Gasp! Simultaneous cultural development of civilisations without contact! Gadzooks!) and indeed, it truly speeds up the process. Maybe they're scarred by people being near-death and needing an operator and suing Telstra if they don't get help.

Ampersand Duck said...

Sorry, HENRY, not HARRY. Same gasp, though.

M-H said...

I just say steadily "no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no...." That seems to get you put through to a human fairly quickly. Also, I believe (although it may be apocryphal) that you can press zero at any time to find a human on most of these systems.

Penthe said...

I like the apocryphal zero theory. I'm going to try it.

I find 'no' is more easily recognised than anything, but that if the phone bot does not understand what you said to it sometimes it says 'I don't understand that word - I am transferring you to an operator', which is a victory anyway.

We used to call the fax thing 'Beepy Monster' He became one of my son's imaginary friends (along with Numbers Man and the walking clock).

Barry Leiba said...

Well, it's that 'strine accent what confuses them, innit?

Seriously, if the system wasn't trained in Australia, that could be a problem. One would think it would have been trained for Australian accents, but, you know, one shouldn't make assumptions.

You might be amused by this five-year-old item from National Public Radio (U.S.).

I've usually found that saying, "Human," (and perhaps repeating it when the system tries to insist that Silicon Sally really can help me, if I would but try) gets me out of the speech reco system (and onto hold, where I'm assured that the lone human still employed there will answer my call in its turn).