Tuesday, August 30, 2022

First Word: Larissa Higgins: Phone


Writing words down strips away nuance.  We attempt to accommodate,  with precision, punctuation and convention, like parentheses, and deciding that  capital letters shout, and that writing /s after the fact is regarded as a substitute for sarcasm of the voice -

A phone though -  a live human voice has modulation and overtones, and it brings sarcasm right up close and personal, but voice alone is - STILL A DISTANCE  (I wrote that bit in capital letters - could you hear it?) and distance is still fatal because what distance affects is control.  Distance becomes POWER.

And when power is already inherent in the equation -
Commercial phone calls alone -
Customers service - capital letters INFINITELY so. 


Say one needs to book a plane flight - origin X to destination Z, one intermediary stop Y for lack of direct flights -

And the airline website, for reasons unfathomable, has it that intermediary stop Y requires that all points between X and Z are booked on air-miles only.

Then it reloads and says that there are no flights - PERIOD - it should use all-caps when it put that in - between x y or z –


There's no communication with a website. No words at all in fact.

So I make a call -
and the lady on the phone says that there ARE in fact flights, but none only on points or only on dollars so I must use both to get there and I smile and, smiling, say okay that sounds great and let us do that now, and she says that I have to do that on the website and is there anything else she can help me with today?

I said was calling because the website WON'T show me any flights.

She said I would have to try a different device then and was there anything else she could help me with today?

I said yes, help me book a flight from X to Z, and she said she couldn't do that and to go use the website and she hoped that the website would work for me later, and was there anything else she could help me with today?

And her voice was all cheer and no /s at all, so I drew myself up and I smiled at HER with my voice just as brittle-ly and i left a scathing review on the post-call survey -

"On a scale of 1-5..." 

I pressed those buttons with INTENT.

And growled with no one but the survey robot to hear.


I went back to the on the dumb website some more, and this time I turned on a VPN so that the website was listening to me in the USA instead of in Chile, and somehow, this gave me X to Y and Y to Z, exclusively on points, and although the flights were all on the same airline, they must be booked one at time, not on one continuous ticket –

So I called the airline again, and the line was broken so that the man could not hear me.
So I called again, and this time after the first hello I could not hear her.

And the third time I had a line where we could both hear each other, but the flight I found on the website did not exist on the phone, and a flight the man found for me on the phone did not exist on the website and did not have any flights for me anyway, and smiling, he said no, the airline cannot not connect its flights if you only book on points, and yes, it was correct that I only COULD book on points, and even though the flight did NOT exist on the website, I WOULD have to book on the website - and was there anything else he could help me with today?


"On a scale of 1-5…"

I left my scathing review on the post-call survey, and thought about the voice of the man on the phone - the dogmatic, smiling stubbornness of a man who knows how stupid the whole thing is it is and can't do anything about it.

And doesn’t have to.  So he doesn't do it at all.

Supplicant and siphon, electron by electron -  A paycheck is a paycheck, and being a stuffed-up siphon on a help-line is better than no paycheck.He didn't need parentheses or /s to tell me that.

I hate modern customer service. Today I hate websites.  And right now I also hate phones.


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