Hello, is anyone there?


In a world of data and automated systems, it’s getting harder to get good service from brands. They want information – a valuable currency – from us but sometimes aren’t willing to spend money – the other valuable currency – trying to get it. It’s called a ‘value exchange’.

Every now and then, I like to test the automated systems of brands. Just to see if anyone is watching. Or if anyone cares.

When the trusty old Yellow Pages (remember them in the days before the internet?) were trying to compete against online search, they implemented a freecall number with an automated system that allowed you to say the name of the company you were wishing to call. Voice recognition software then (hopefully) provided you with the right response and connected you to the requested company. In it’s launch period, it was a little glitchy. And the telco knew it so they had all calls monitored with a real life human being ready to jump on the line and help the caller – as I discovered when, instead of giving the company name to the auto system, I said “I fucking hate these things”, to which I heard the click of the human operator switch in and reply “so do I. What can I help you with?”

But now, pretty much all the auto systems are left to the 1’s and 0’s of a processor.

Here’s the SMS ‘conversation’ I had recently with Thames Water: