Last night I’ve got mail. One of the letters was from a collection agency – they wanted to collect $21.30 on behalf of Verizon phone company. Turns out – I owe these monies to Verizon as a “final bill” – some last minute money extortion policy that they enforce. Apparently, someone at the billing department forgot to send me that one “final bill” in February, when I switched off my land line.
So what’s a poor man to do? I called Verizon. Their local phone number is utilizing the latest and greatest in voice recognition technology. Whenever you call that local number an annoying female voice comes up and starts asking a zillion of questions. Is this the number you’re calling about? Am I right that this isn’t the number? What is the number you’re calling about? Is this the number you’ve said you’re calling about? What is the matter of the call? And so on and so forth…
First problem is that you have to answer every single question in loud clear voice. In almost any environment, except your sound-proof basement there will be a background noise. Sometimes the noise is so significant that system doesn’t recognize a word from what you’re saying. Sometimes you are in a public area or at the office, or in lunch room. Oh, and SPEAKING OUT LOUD YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBER, LAST 4 NUMBERS OF YOUR SOCIAL SECURITY AND FULL CREDIT CARD NUMBER WITH EXPIRATION DATE IS A WRONG AND STUPID IDEA! Hello, do you hear me now?!
I had to hang up and try again. After several attempts I got through to the live person and was told that “there is no person here, at Verizon, who would take your payment over the phone“. Everything has to be done via automated system that I already have been through. The evil, vicious circle was now complete.
My guess is that somehow I will be able to figure out how to get those money to Verizon. Worse case scenario – I’ll go through the collection agency that sent me the bill. What I see is that Verizon, apparently, cutting every possible cost on land line phone business. Obviously, billing department has to have much more thorough training than people who answer the phones first. I expect the service fully fold to total uselessness in about a year or so. Given the rate with which people turn down landlines in preference of IP-based phones and cell phones, I really think landlines would be few and scattered. The tech support would be outsourced to India where poorly trained and badly English-speaking low-wage people will make you want to go back to automated voice-recognition system. Land line is doomed!