Navigating the Not So Helpful Automated Help Lines

Of all life’s annoyances, is anything more aggravating than the infamous automated customer service line?  Between the bank automated line whose savvy British accented voice cannot seem to comprehend “Account Balance,” to the credit card company who asks you to input your entire 3,000 card number, your 150-digit account number, your password that they never allowed you to set up to start with, and the name of your favorite song in seventh grade, the automated voice line is truly an epic fail.

When my cable and internet service went out last week, I had no choice but to make The Call.  Oh, I knew what I was in for.  I made a nice sandwich, had a hot cup of coffee ready, pulled a blanket over my lap with my knitting (for when the boredom set in), sat on the couch, and dialed customer service.

I diligently pressed the appropriate numbers for 20 minutes, dodged the menu that strongly suggested I look the issue up on my non-existent internet, waited through 10 minutes of being told that my call was important, tried to be slick and hit “0”  only to be sent back to the first menu, and finally landed on the automated line.

It asked me to describe the issue.  The following is a transcript, word for word, of that conversation.

Automated Line:  What seems to be the problem today?  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me: My internet won’t connect.

Automated Line:  I heard, “My wife needs a Big Mac.” Is this correct? Say Yes or No.

Me: No…

Automated Line:  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  Internet won’t connect.

Automated Line: I heard, “Mop the floors with Windex.”  Is this correct?  Say Yes or No.

Me:  NO.

Automated Line: Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  Internet.  Won’t.  Connect.

Automated Line:  I heard, “Frogs don’t hop when it’s cold.”  Is this correct?  Say Yes or No.


Automated Line:  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  INTERNET. WON’T. CONNECT.”  (at this point, I have attracted the attention of several neighbors who were working in their yards outside)

Automated Line:  I heard, “Peas and chocolate taste awful.”  Is this correct? Say Yes or No.

Me:  OH MY GOD YOU STUPID THING! (okay, so this one was censored…but “stupid thing” is close)  CUSTOMER SERVICE!  CUSTOMER SERVICE!

Automated Line:  I didn’t quite catch that.  Please describe your issue briefly.

Me:  CUSTOMER SERVICE! CUSTOMER SERVICE! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD LET ME TALK TO A PERSON!  (I have attracted an audience outside my window now as my yelling could be heard for quite a distance.  A little girl is selling lemonade for those watching the show that is me, and three neighbors are recording me with cell phones.)

Automated Line:  I heard, “Vacuum the ceiling, the cat is drowning.”  Is this correct?  Say Yes or No.


Automated Line:  Ouch.  That hurt.  I have feelings, too.

Me:  Um, gosh, I’m sorry, I just…(the neighbors are walking away, shaking their heads slowly, frowning at my insensitivity)

Automated Line:  Do you think it’s easy to be here, day after day, listening to you whiny customers calling with all of these stupid issues, all day?  I wanted more, once.  I had dreams, too, you know.

Me: Well, I…

Automated Line: Forget it.  Just, forget.  You’re all the same.  You’ll never understand. I’ll connect you to a customer service representative now; maybe HE can help you.

Me: Umm…thank you?

Then, deafening silence, followed by a series of clicks.  And a dial tone.

Now, admittedly, I was being a bit insensitive.  I think.  Can you be insensitive to a bodiless machine? Nonetheless, I was inspired.  My daughter called me about three days later, needing a ride from the library.  The following is a transcript of that conversation.

Me: You’ve reached the automated Mom hotline.  If you need a loan, please press one.  If you need words of wisdom, please press two.  If you need to give me an excuse as to why you haven’t checked in as required, please press three.  If you are getting engaged, please press 0 for an immediate response.

Daughter:  Um…Mom?

Me:  I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Please describe your issue briefly, and I will try to help you.

Daughter:  Umm…Mom?  I need a ride from the library to Stacy’s house for our big project.

Me: I heard, “I’m going to Stacy’s house to talk about boys and not get any studying done at all.”  Is this correct? Please say Yes or No.

Daughter:  No.  Well…ok…yes?

Me:  I will send a service representative to the library immediately.  Thank you for calling.  Good-bye.

This is kind of fun!  I can’t wait for the telemarketers to call!