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They're Just Not Answering!


They're Just Not Answering!

Ralph Nader

Steve Leone, editor of the Concord Monitor—the second largest newspaper in New Hampshire—makes me long for the good old days of old-fashioned communications. He actually, personally, answers his own phone.

I know this because when I called him I actually got right through, despite the media’s frenetic immersion in the week before the state’s presidential primary.


The hybrid robo calls where an actual person monitors multiple phones and connects when someone answers, can't answer immediately and one can hang up. That is the time saving reversal: the caller isn't answering!


Technology cannot conquer the second law of thermodynamics!


I feel ancient when it occurs to me that there are people out there who don't know what a phone booth is, was.


Really, Ralph, why waste your time writing this?


Because communication matters! Because customers do want to discuss their bills and sometimes the automated services don't answer the individual's pertinent question.

It's always amazing to see at least one poster play down the importance of Mr. Nader's stances.

Industry shill much?


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We are also losing touch with words and their meanings. Texting culture is even invading my favorite morning ritual, coffee, paper, and crossword. A couple days ago a question on my crossword was, what is TTFN, having no clue, I asked a young lady at the next table, without hesitation she said, ta ta for now, I thanked her. TTFN!


During the past decade I have noticed a trend where businesses make it as hard as possible for us to find a phone number to call them on...many apparently have no phone numbers to call.


I don't text and neither do plenty of people that I know. Watch that ONE SIZE FITS ALL utilization of the WE-frame.

Some text.


Write letters? Americans can barely read let alone string two sentences together, and it seems that the teaching of cursive hand writing is almost nonexistent. Soon no one will be able to read any original and historic documents like our Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Stupid is as stupid does.


Hey, buddy! Communication is important and not to be taken lightly. It is the all of everything. What does it mean to you when you have something of concern to report? You have an emergency, a problem, or a complaint that affects your life, you need a timely solution, and you cannot make contact or get through to your party?

Here you are surrounded by massive amounts of technology, waving your arms and yelling, and it’s like downing in plain sight on a crowded beach. We are all slowly drowning in the minutia of technology…what was once a simple system of just being acknowledged has now been made into a gauntlet.

Let’s take a simple doctor’s office visit or even an emergency room visit. Not so easy. First, there is the receptionists who do not hear you or see you because they are behind their computers. In our local hospital’s ER it is has been honed into a fine art of not seeing anyone entering by the front doors. I mean your arm could be cut off and no one would notice unless you made a big fuss about it. Hey, technology will take care of it.

However, if you are still upright, eventually you are granted an audience, and you are immediately asked for money. Then when the time is right you are put into the waiting room, and, you wait. Finally in comes an nurse or assistant…..she/he asks questions all the while typing on a handy dandy little computer…then they leave. In time, in comes a doctor with his computer under his arm, and trailing behind him is the ever present but in the invisible mode is the insurance company. The doctor then asks the same questions as his predecessor. By my count, there are now three of you all in one room, oh….wait I forgot to mention the “camera” up in the corner of ceiling. One can never have enough technology.

If you are lucky your complaint may be understood over his typing on the computer and his ever present concern for what the insurance company will pay. After you leave you realize you have been dismissed with no real communication. The doctor was too busy documenting his conversation with himself on his computer.

You after all were just an afterthought. You have just been documented up the yinyang and yet no one really saw you.


Like "1984" Brave New World has been moved over to non fiction. Each subsequent generation, especially here in America, has lost a little more of its "humanity" since Vietnam. People don't know how or when to shake hands anymore. They don't know how to look someone in the eye when making a point (remember when that used to stress the point you were making? And of course looking away from a person was considered disrespectful or passive aggressive?) And of course, the ability to string together sentences has become a rare skill indeed.
Many a science fiction writer and philosopher warned us of this coming moment, the time when we took a step backward and stopped using the language skills that caused our rise above all the other animals.
Maybe we will develope some sort of ESP and rise to whole new level of interpersonal communication. Then again, maybe we'll just huddle down around campfires, texting each other and rubbing shit all over ourselves. I think the latter is probably a more viable option.


Robo answering was designed to serve commerce, and it was almost certainly realized by the designers that it would aggravate people.
Just another proof that under capitalism, commerce rules and the people be damned.

This practice should not be tolerated.

If there was unity among the people, we could end this barbarism overnight by everyone refusing to cooperate - by just hanging up on the first request to 'Press one if you ...'.

Social media could be used to promote a boycott.

Also a federal law mandating that if a phone is answered it must be answered by a real person would lower the collective blood pressure of the population, provide employment, and make life for callers much more pleasant.


I would love to see an automated filtering analytic tool- one that makes you go through, on phone or online, the same tiers, but enhanced:
• Have the option of “Press 1 if you don’t want to deal with this, leave a voice mail, and someone will text/call the answer” or go through the prompts and you will see/hear the knowledgebase answer and will have the opportunity to leave a message, which will get a response, or press 2 for an operator who will not answer your questions but will type your answers etc
• Respond via text, vm, email, with a summary about your call (needs to be more specific than the few of these I get now), and follow-up with how the suggestions get handled, any change management etc. We have the technology to really parse this data and work on the different parts simultaneously. The key is to not only summarize the issue, but reply with the effect. And we can through in consumer voting/ranking for each dataset.
• Surveys! I would welcome a (non-solicitation) call surveying me about a company, informing me of change or interest in any area that I called about for support or complaint.
• I would also love an information clearinghouse that could give me examples of all the places I could go for answers or ratings (which could also be directed back to the company, like with share functions like ShareThis etc) for example, have a complaint? Go here here and here on the company website, but also go here here and here on Yelp, Consumer Reports, Facebook, local blogs and association pages, op eds, etc.

There is a way to make data and tech work for me, not just my vendor. Yes, complexity is a factor and no I don’t have an answer for getting back to the ‘good ole days’ (when there was less connectivity, less reach, therefore fewer people calling). If I and thousands of others submitted the same/similar question, I could handle a text of when the video/chat addressing the answer would be available.

More intuitive FAQs, surveys, issue tickets, and knowledgebase (which is happening) will help, but also if connected to training and education.