Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Ebbs and Flows of An Automated Phone System

I went to pay my mortgage online today like I normally do. As it turns out, the mortgage company website that handles this function was not working, so I picked up the phone and started down a whitewater river adventure that would end up with my my body smashed into the rocks.

It started out simple enough. Sure, the water was murky and cold, but the current didn't seem too strong as I punched in the toll-free number. In a matter of seconds I heard the voice of a woman at the other end and she must have had someone behind her playing the guitar because I could hear music. Ok, so it was a recorded voice with homogenized background music filling in the gaps. She gave me a few choices. The current started picking up a bit.

Press 1 if I had questions about my account. Press 2 if....I dunno. I was paying more attention to the white caps up ahead. This was going to get interesting. I ended up pushing a button and was given a few more choices regarding the nature of my call. At some point, I had to enter my loan number. I didn't have it in front of me. Someone walked into my office to ask me a question. Holy crap, the raft is really starting to move. I hung up.

Eventually I was back online--this time with my loan number handy. I got back to where I was before and after a series of several more automated choices, I was talking to a real person. I was calmly floating downstream. The raft was gently sliding like a stick of butter gliding down the hood of a long Corvette sitting in the sun (that's weird).

"I was trying to pay my loan online and..."

"We're having problems with our web right now. You can pay for that over the phone. Would you like me to give you the number before I connect you?" he interrupted.

What was the deal with that? Did he think I was going to get disconnected or something? Talk about a vote of confidence for his phone system. And why is there now water sloshing into the raft?

"No thanks," I replied. "I'm sure I can get it off the web if I need it."

Really. That was what I said. Can you believe that? I was right there talking to the guy because the web site was broken and when he offered to give me the number before connecting me, I said, "No thanks. I'm sure I can get it off the web if I need it." I may require some sort of intrusive, embarrassing medical examination.

He connected me. Once again, I was given a series of choices. The loan number was one of the first things they wanted. Didn't work. I gave them my social security number (457-55-5462). That worked. It was on to the next automated question and that's when I noticed some big rocks in the water up ahead.

Now that the system knew who I was, they were just going to need my loan number. But wait, haven't we been through this before? And, what was that popping noise? Did the raft just hit a boulder? Is that air shooting out of the side? I went ahead and entered it, anyway. I figured the worst that could happen was that I'd end up at the beginning of the loop again.

Yep. I had struck a boulder and air was gushing out of the boat. The big rocks were all over the place. I was waiting to see what the system would do with the loan number that I had just entered and it seemed like it was taking a long time. That's when I heard this...

"We're sorry. We can no longer process this call. Please hang up."
Pppppfffffsssssssssss. Bam!!!!!!! Ouch. That's gonna leave a mark.

In all of my years of getting stuck in these stupid telephone systems, I've never had THIS happen. At least I could appreciate the honesty. So, where's that number to make a payment online again?


Sniz said...

Your adventure sounds fun. At least the white water part. Not the "I'm at work trying to get this freaking mortgage paid".

Randy said...

Mr. Shumway,

Just had a similar experience like that the other day. Trying to get a "real" person seemed nearly impossible. Actually, I never did get a "real" person even though the prompts said my call could be recorded for better service. Sure, right...been there, done that. Did my problem get resolved.
Yes, but it took patience, more prompts and never getting a "real" person even though that was supposed to be an option.

Hope you are well.


No Cool Story said...

Oh man.

Rebekah said...

LOL. At least it gave you a good post. Great pictures to go along with it.