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Call center automation run amuck

If there's one thing that gets my goat, it's corporate automatons.  In this day and age of automation, all semblance of human touch seems to have completely disappeared.  Take, for example, the officious call I just got from a Royal Bank call center.  I maintain several deposit accounts, a couple of retirement savings accounts and so on with the bank, and they have the mortgage on our nearly paid for house.  They know I'm good for the $500 I'm overdrawn on one account.  "When are you planning to make this payment Mr. Saunders?", said the Bank Lady.  "Why are you harrassing me, Mrs. Bank Lady?", said I.  "Because you have overdraft protection on this account Mr. Saunders.  Can you make the payment by Friday?".  Argh!  So I dashed off an email to my branch and asked them to fix the problem.

At least they're not as bad as AT&T.   AT&T's latest tactic is to have a machine telephone you, and leave a recorded message with a request for you to call back their 800 number.  After sitting on hold once for 20 minutes waiting for an AT&T operator to get on the line, I won't do it again.  If AT&T really wants to talk with me, they can have a human being call.  

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • Peter Childs January 31, 2008, 7:51 am

    Think that's bad. Late in 2006 my phone number was linked to someone elses bad debt and resulted in 170 automated calls over 6 months. Sometimes several times a day.

    I could have ended it IF I'd been willing to wait in a call cue for 20 or more minutes and provide the collection agency with tons of my personal info to prove I wasn't the party they were seeking. I did't believe I had an obligation to call a company I didn't want a relationship with.

    Instead I Blogged http://www.irresponsiblecalling.blogspot.com and interacted with the provincial government and my local MPP.

    Nothing teaches you how poor a regulartory environment we have in Canada than dealing with regulators.

    What got me most however was that the solution to this problem is both cheap and easy – compare the number to the name registered with the phone f their is no match don't use autometed calling.

    Through the blog I learned that my expereince wasn't uncommon. People getting new numbers are the most common victims, though even people who've had the same number for 20+ years (like me) are not immune to transposition errors or malfeasance.

    Like your experience these issues are well within the capbilities of any call center to fix – if they, and the regulator, care.

  • EDI January 9, 2009, 12:42 pm

    Good point Peter. It all comes down to how much we customers meanto these corps. Right now, its not looking good for the little guy!

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