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Until the 1990s, I’d lived all my life without computers, so it escapes me how this contraption became indispensable from the first moment I booted one up. How had I managed to get anything done for the first half century? How did I ever write a story, edit a manuscript, paste up a newspaper, develop and print a photograph, or send a letter without a computer? How on earth did I ever look something up?

Over the last 20-odd years I’ve learned about many of the marvelous things a computer can do, but I’ve also learned some about things it won’t do. Take, for instance, the “Submit” button on a website’s feedback page. Think it actually submits your feedback when you click on it? Nope.

What it actually does is delete your feedback, after which it sends you an email confirming that you sent feedback. I know this because I have almost never gotten real feedback to my feedback. Never has an issue I’ve complained about been rectified. The only thing I ever get is the email that says “Thank you for your feedback. Do not reply to this email.”

There is one button that delivers on its promise without fail — the one that says “Charge my credit card.” You just have to hope it does it only once.

I have it on good authority that web-based customer service departments are no longer staffed by people. Their last actual humans were tasked with writing “Frequently Asked Questions,” after which they were fired by human-resources software. This explains why you are always directed to a “FAQ” page when you click on “Help.” When you do, you have to hope that the former employee who wrote the questions thought of the one you want to ask because if not your only recourse is to find a forum from among the zillions that populate the web — and you don’t want to go there.

In rare cases you can still call a toll-free number for help. You know the ones. “Thank you for calling WikiWidgets. Please press 1 for English, press 2 for Klingon. Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line for the next available representative. Approximate wait time is two days.”

To help pass the time, you’re treated to an endless loop of Mantovani covers of Pearl Jam — or maybe a product-by-product summary of WikiWidgets entire line and why their products are so superior that you never have to call for help.

Sometimes Mantovani is interrupted by “Your call is very important to us. Please stay on the line for the blah-blah.” However, when Mantovani is interrupted by, “Thank you for calling WikiWidgets. Please press 1 for English, press 2 for Klingon. Your call is very important to us,” you can be pretty sure they started over and that you’re looking at another two-day wait.

Anyway, thanks for your patience, and if you have any questions, try Google because I’m going to bed.

Contact Robert Rufa at rrufa59@hotmail.com.

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