Forcing humanity on automated customer service

Automated system diagrams are beautiful works of rationalization of perfect categories. What they fail to do is provide the extra-ordinary information people want. The machines replicate what can be found in other machines. They guard the gates to another human being.

One can find sadomasochist pleasure in listening to questions and pressing endless numbers on automated phone systems. One can harmlessly vent by shouting commands to a robot. At USPS finding a human being requires particular skill, patience and perseverance. One needs to act as a machine to press his way to a live person.

Mastering the robot reveals the human:

  • “US Postal Service 800‑275‑8777 Press 5 4 2 2 at each prompt.”
  • “I also find saying repeatedly if it asks for a voice prompt: “Speak to a representative”, or keep hitting 0 some times works.”

“After you dial the 1-800 number, the recording will thank you and then ask if you want Spanish (para Espanol). Do not speak and do not push any buttons. It will then say “Main Menu”. At this time, push 0 (zero). Then the recording will say, “You’ve asked for customer service”. Do not speak and do not push any buttons yet. Wait until the recording says, “You can say”. At this time, push the 0 (zero) button on your phone. Do not speak into the phone. You will then get another message saying, “Would you like to hear the USPS privacy statement”. Push 0 (zero) again. Do not speak into the phone. Then you will be connected to a real live person!”

Other non-human customer service system diagrams:


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