Voice Recognition Software, Doesn't

Not worth pitting. But I repeatedly have problem in the automated call-center systems (which of course now make it very hard for you to talk directly to an operator without going through a bunch of number-prompts and, more recently, voice prompts.).

I will leave for another rant the joy of entering all the demanded information, finally being passed to a live agent, and then being asked the same questions again by the agent.

But am I the only one who can’t get the GD system to recognize my 100% fluent, unaccented English? Five minutes of going through the prompts with repeated machine-spoken versions of “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Could you repeat your reservation number?” or “Okay. I think you said your destination was Baku, Azerbaijan. Is that right?” usually leaves me drawing stares from onlookers in the airline lounge as I shout “NO!” into the phone.

How in the world do people with strong regional accents, let alone immigrants, deal with these things?

I have problems with voice recognition systems. I found that even if they don’t say they take tone input they often do. Listen to the choices and start counting. Press the number your choice was at. When you can’t work the system correctly, mess up spectacularly. This gets you a person.

The other problem is that they don’t know when to shut the fuck up.


Automated POS - “Please speak your 14 digit account number”

Me - “1. 2. 4. 5. <interupt>”

APOS - “Your account number can be found on the bottom of your billing statement.”

Me - [sigh]

APOS - “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that. Please say or type your 14 digit account number.”

Me - [dials fucking account number]

APOS - “What would you like to do today? You can say things like, ‘schedule a pickup’ or ‘make a payment’.”

Me - “Schedule a pickup”

APOS - “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Please repeat your selection.”


APOS - “You can say things like, ‘schedule a pickup’ or ‘make a payment’”

Me - "Schedu …’

APOS - “I’m sorry, I didn’t quite get that. Please make a selection.”

Me - “FUCK YOU!!”

APOS - “Would you like to speak with a representative?”


If you babble nonsensical junk, 99% of these satanic things will kick you to a real person after three attempts. It’s awesome and also fun to do.

MACHINE: Please enter…


MACHINE: I didn’t quite catch that. Let’s try…


MACHINE: Do you want to…


MACHINE: OK. Let me transfer you to a representative.

SOUL BROTHER: slaps himself five
Just the other day, though, I did this and the machine wouldn’t bite. Hung up on me instead. I must admit I laughed hard. Wish I could remember what company it was.

I usually have excellent luck with these systems, although the ones I use most frequently are Amtrak and Google’s 800-GOOG411. Both understand my accent perfectly. But being a computer geek probably means that they were programmed by people who speak like I do.

I’ve had call backs by a person when the system failed and I hung up.