More talking computers

I had another experience with a speaking computer. I called to cancel a magazine subscription, and was immediately aware that I was speaking with a recording. I figured this meant that I would be able to get through the entire process without the tiresome task of convincing someone that I did indeed wish to cancel.

Alas, it was not to be, although I expect that the process was, overall, less painful than it would have been with a real person.

The computer first offered me two free months if I would reconsider. Then, it offered me a choice of several worthless trinkets if I would repent of my folly. Finally, it said that it would cancel my subscription at the end of the subscription year, rather than immediately, since that was probably what I had in mind.

At last, and grudgingly, it agreed to cancel my magazine immediately, and refund my money.

Now, when subjected to this kind of thing by a person, I always figured that it was their job, and they were just trying to get their bonus. But when a computer program does it, there’s just no excuse, and it was just annoying.

I also wondered what this does for employment. If one can, with one studio recording session, and a simple menu-driven script, replace a few dozen employees, surely this will happen in many call centers. Perhaps things like 411 will be replaced this way, since voice recognition appears to be sufficiently advanced now.