The art and science of robotic talking customer service reps

So my husband, who hates technological advancements, has a really crappy cell phone.  He refuses to get a smart phone because he thinks it will watch him all the time like the XBox Kinect does.  However, his old junkie flip phone has seen better days, so I thought I would be nice and get him a slightly better but still crappy flip phone off of eBay.

eBay, in case you weren’t aware, is not just a place to buy taxidermied shrimp.  You can also buy other junk there, including a Motorola Rival for like 30 bucks.  I was all excited when it came in the mail yesterday, despite its craptitude, because it was new and shiny.

But I went to activate it and this happened:

Verizon Wireless Website told me,  “Your account has been LOCKED!  You are obviously up to no good and deserve eternal punishment, so please call Verizon Customer Service at blah blah blah.”

What the…  grrr.  Okay, so I tell my husband (whom I will call Rob because that’s his name) that he needs to call to get his account unlocked.

He immediately broke into hives but he did as he was told.

Verizon Wireless Customer Service Bot:  “If you want Technical Support, press or say One.  If you want to talk about your bill, press or say Two.  If you want something else, just tell me and I will figure it out because I am cool like that.”

Rob:  “Need to unlock account.”

Verizon Wireless Customer Service Robot:  “I’m sorry, I don’t understand what you just said.  Perhaps you should try enunciating better.  Or if you need Spanish, press or say Thirty-Six.”

Rob: “I need to unlock my account.”

Verizon Wireless Customer Service Robot: “Do you need to unlock your phone?  If so, press the unlock button.  Thank you and have a good day.”

Rob:  “NO!  I need to unlock my account!”

Verizon Wireless Customer Service Robot:  “Just to be sure, please say your account password.”

Rob: “I don’t know my account password!”

Verizon Wireless Customer Service Robot: “Please say your account password!”

Rob:  “If I knew my account password, I wouldn’t need to call you.”

Verizon Wireless Customer Service Robot: “I’m sorry, I have no idea what you just said.  Perhaps some elocution lessons will help you.”


Verizon Wireless Customer Service Robot:  “Please stay on the line and someone will assist you in approximately 27 minutes. Hopefully you will hang up in frustration before that point.”

So then a human or more advanced android came on and talked Rob through resetting his account.  Sighing with relief, he handed the task over to me to activate the thing.

And of course, the activation failed.  (“What, did you buy that off the back of a truck?” -“No, I got it on eBay!” – “Same thing.”)

You know what this means – I had to call Verizon again.  I talked to a nice robot named Chad who lived in Utah and knew what the sun was.  Long story short, one hour and twelve minutes later I was told that I got a bad phone, I should return it, or did I want to use our upgrade to get something more snazzy?  No, I sighed, not today.  Defeated, I reactivated his old crappy flip phone, which he is perfectly fine with.

Then I went and ordered another one on eBay.