Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Computers and customer service

I have just paid my electricity bill to Origin.

Quite apart from the sense of piercing pain that this always promotes, I noticed a few things about the automated phone system.

First of all, it doesn't make you talk to it and it's quite quick and efficient. So kudos there, then.


You dial, it is answered almost immediately, and it says "To continue, press 1."

You what? Dial, wait two seconds, have to do something else just to do something else?

All right, moving on...

Enter biller code, reference number, amount to pay, credit card details  (all of them) and then... It reads it all back to you, so that you can check, and it does two things:

Number one, is it picks up a bad asian accent and says "three hundred dollar and sixty cents". Not "dollars", but "dollar".

Which amused me, mildly.

Number two is that when it reads you back your reference number, it messes it up.

The number is printed in the form "012 857 ..." and so on. In triples, which is a fairly standard way of doing things because triples are easy for the human mind to chunk numbers into to make memory easier. It is read back, however, as "01 28 57 .." - doubles. Which throws you a loop and leaves you momentarily unsure about what you're reading, therefore making it quite difficult to check that you got it right the first time.

Which isn't helpful.

But, having said that, it is just about the best telephone billing service I've ever used.

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