What's The Diff?

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The Irreverent Phone-Bot

While enjoying a much-needed cup of coffee one morning, the lights in my apartment began to flicker and suddenly, shut off completely. There was no explanation for it. It neither rained nor snowed. Wondering what was afoot, I pulled out the ol’ Yellow Pages and found the phone number to my electric company.

I dialed. The typical automated message came on to direct me to the relevant area. But instead of a “Press 1 for <fill in the blank>,” the message requested that I say into the phone why I was calling. At the tone, I rather sheepishly said, “My power’s out.” Okay, that wasn’t so bad.

On the other end of the phone, the message replied, “I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand your request. Please try again.” Hmm. So, I repeated my problem aloud into the phone, as I peered around my living room to make sure no one was around to laugh at me for talking to a machine.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand your request. Please try again.”

Arg, this sucks, I thought. I could feel the blood rush to my head as I once again repeated to what I now considered to be an evil phone-bot that my power was out.

“I’m sorry, but I didn’t understand your request. Please try again.”

After several botched attempts, I found myself screaming swearwords into the phone. “$@&! stupid phone-bot! My #@&*ing power’s out!”

I should point out that along with the seemingly endless frustration, I felt oddly embarrassed by not only being forced to speak with a phone-bot that had it out for me, but that I was allowing a machine to anger me so much. And even though I live alone, I kept peering around my apartment to make sure no one was around to either laugh at me or give me a “you’re crazy” look for saying the same thing over and over into the phone, and of course, eventually flipping out.

Now, I understand that for companies with high volume call flow, it’s probably easier to have an automated response system instead of real, live telephone operators. But at what expense? Easier for the company, maybe. Cheaper, probably. Incredibly frustrating and oddly embarrassing to the customer, yes. My thought? Get off your lazy butts, get on the phone and talk to me person-to-person. I don’t care if it’s not as easy for you. It’s not about you. It’s about me, your customer. Be the diff, and stop forcing me to interact with an evil phone-bot that doesn’t speak my language!

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  1. I would expect an automated response system from a power company to be able to understand any permutation of “My power’s out.”
    This reminds me how much I hate making sure the paper money one has to feed into vending machines is all “nice” before the machine will take it. “Please Mr Machine, take my money!”

    Posted by: Jarrett | November 30, 2006
  2. Here’s what tops it all: when you call into a company because you forget your online password/account number, and the bot answers the phone saying, please type in your password and/or account number so that we can verify your information and get you to the correct “department”. Well Mr. Smart Ass bot, if I knew my password or account number, I WOULDN’T BE CALLING YOU WOULD I???????

    Posted by: Kriste | December 14, 2006
  3. what would have been even more hilarious is if the phone-bot finally connected you after you got rough with it.

    Posted by: marissa | February 3, 2007

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Sunday, March 18, 2018