Did anyone recently see The X-Files S11 E7 Rm9sbG93ZXJz?
In the episode Scully and Mulder try out a new high tech restaurant. Everything is done via a console. The food arrives and Scully gets a beautiful plate of Sushi and Mulder gets a disgusting blob fish. He tries to access the console again to no avail. He then searches the restaurant for someone to rectify his dinner mistake. But, he only finds robots in the kitchen handling all of the food orders. When it’s time to leave, he declines leaving a tip. That’s when all hell breaks loose, and for the next 40 minutes of the show robots hunt him and Scully until a review or tip is left.
This seems like scifi fantasy. How could robots actually care about a tip? If you really think about, the robots didn’t care. They were just trying to finish an algorithm that ended up with payment, a review and a tip.
Yesterday I had the very unfortunate luck of dealing with my cable/internet provider. My modem has been on the fritz, and finally the packet loss was enough for me to take action. I yanked the modem out, warned the kids the internet would be off for a bit and headed out to the cable company. They kindly interviewed me on my issue and then asked about 3 devices that the computer sad were in my possession. However, the antique devices had been returned a long time ago. This is the third time I have had to tell them this and all 3 times they say they will update the system. But, I know that someday I will cancel service and they will make me pay for dinosaurs that no longer roam the networking world.
I brought home my new used modem and prompting called the phone number given to me to register the device. I called, got an automated message. I entered the required info, all 1000 pieces of it. Then I got the dreaded prompt. The polite voice of an algorithm. “Please tell us what you are calling about today”. I said, “activate my modem”. The slightly kind automated voice responded “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Can you try again?” I said, “setup my modem”. Again she says to me “I’m sorry….” A third time I say aggressively, “Provision a modem”. Again that voice says, and I swear it got a little snotty that time, “I’m sorry…”. I nearly threw my phone across the room at this point. I tried to hold it together, but I hate these things. Me, Mrs. I think I’m a geek, getting irritated with this cost saving technology to direct patrons to the correct department without waiting on hold. I start button mashing like it was the first time I had played Mortal Combat. Finally the mythical voice sensed my aggression and put me through to a live person.
Sadly, that didn’t help either and I was referred for a service call. Sigh.
After it was over, all I could think about was that episode of the X-files. This automated voice was like the restaurant forcing me to leave a tip. It even asked me to take a survey at the end my call. Then I got a follow email to ask about my service. I didn’t exactly feel like I was being stalked. But I did feel a bit like I couldn’t get away from this crappy service. It followed me after I left and gave me an appointment scheduled for 8am to 5pm in about 12 million years. And that automated voice didn’t even give me a chance to complain.
I miss the days of live customer service where you could be a jerk and push your way to the front of the queue with phrases like, “I work from home” or “I could get your competitor to install it twice before you got out here”.
When the robots take over the world, I hope they have mastered the art of customer service or put me out of my misery quickly. And of course, I still hope that they vacuum my floors.