Are you tiring of insidious corporate telephone etiquette? In today’s fast-paced society, I don’t have time to listen to a lengthy list of options when I call a company. I fondly remember picking up the phone to call my grandfather’s newspaper and hearing: “Operator.” “Twelve,” was my response, and the secretary-receptionist-society editor would answer in seconds.
This morning I pressed some numbers on my “smart” phone and got a repugnant response from a doctor’s office. “Call back when we’re open.” How many prospective patients with immediate health needs will simply select another physician?
The following is a typical telephone response I’m getting lately (italics indicate my thoughts as I go through the process, which I believe is recorded by someone who hopes to be able to avoid talking to anyone…maybe an underpaid receptionist? I’ll use a physicians group as an example):
“Our options have recently changed (here we go). Please listen carefully (yeah, or I’ll miss the right number and have to start over again) to the following options (all of which are designed to prohibit me from speaking to a human being…at least in the United States. Why is it I can only reach someone in India or the Philippines who can barely understand, much less speak, fluent English with a time delay that causes us to spar over each other?)
“If this is an emergency, dial 911 (yeah, I may need a shrink if I put up with this much longer).”
“If you are a doctor, hospital, pharmacy or (yeah, some important human or other inanimate object) dial zero (yeah, that’s the one who doesn’t want to talk to anyone else… even someone who could generate billable hours for your boss!).”
“Press one if you want to make an appointment.” (Okay, I know the drill here: I’ll have to leave my name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, Air Force Security Police serial number, mother’s maiden name and time of day. Please Jesus, let me speak to someone you’ve created).
“Press two if you want to cancel an appointment (yeah, if I had one I certainly would opt for that scenario just now).
“Press three if you want to change an appointment (don’t get ahead of me here).”
“Press four (I hear a CLICK…Oh, no, I’ve been disconnected, right?) “If you want to make a call, dial…” (rare expletive deleted).
Okay, back to my prospective crusade notes intended for:
* politicians who beg for bribes from the only ones who have them to give…rich folks who want more legislation that more than compensates them. OUR public broadcasters should give nearly unlimited air time to political debate so candidates don’t have to spend quite so much money buying ads to distribute their messages. All elected officials should be demanding secure technology to ensure citizens don’t have to wait in line for anything, including buying licenses, voting and giving anonymous tips. Did you hear about the preacher who asked a Member of Congress to put God back in government. “Oh, He’s there, He just hasn’t blessed us lately.”
*company decision-makers who allow “rewards points” paid for with cash to “expire.” That monkey-see-monkey-do policy doesn’t absolve them from the sin of stealing. Don’t you love those motel billboards. “Free breakfast.” Come on, the first thing I read is a lie. How about: “Mediocre breakfast included.”
*company executives to just cut prices and quit asking busy customers to mail in receipts for alleged rebates. I know they know a certain percentage of folks aren’t going to that trouble…we don’t even use all our gift cards!
*city and county SERVANTS to overcome abject failure and focus on their FIRST order of business…you know…public safety. If crime has approached national highs, it’s time to cut other expenses and recruit, train, place and, significantly increase remuneration for more police officers.
Let’s crusade for a hack-free number we can dial, say 111, to order overdue changes.
-- Kim Sexton is a retired newspaper editor and publisher. He lives in Independence.