|Stupid Phone Banking|
Phone banking was fine when you only had to pressed buttons. Then some idiot brought in voice recognition.
"Welcome to Halifax Bank Accounts. Please choose one of the following four options. If you are an existing bank account customer, press one."
"For general bank account queries or to administer your account, press one."
"Thank you. Please continue to use your telephone keypad when using this service."
Good old phone banking. This is how I like to handle my finances, strolling around my house with the phone held to one ear, or making a sandwich or a cup of tea while I key in digits to pay off my credit card balance. I've been doing this once a month for as long as I can remember, and I find it curiously satisfying.
"Please enter your six digit sort code.""What's going on? Why isn't the nice robot lady telling me to press buttons any more? "
Paying off my credit card is just one banking task, of course. Unfortunately my most frequent financial action, the withdrawal of cash, can't be done quite so conveniently. Nor can I gather up the great mass of low value coins that collects on my bedside table and tip it into my telephone, which is a shame. Bank rules state that I'm only allowed to take in five bags of it a day, and that means it never gets taken in.
"Please enter your eight digit account number."
I counted it all up once, about four year's worth of accumulated shrapnel sorted and placed into little bags. Came to around £600.
"Please enter the first and last digits of your security number."
So aside from paying in, taking out, resolving errors, dropping off a cheque and faffing around with my mortgage, phone banking serves all my needs. Which is, just to re-iterate, to pay off my credit card once a month.
"The balance of your account is 20p. The amount you have for withdrawal today, including your arranged overdraft, is 20p."
I'm in. I've broken through the security gates and I'm strolling around my figurative vault, trying to locate my 20p. Time to pay that credit card bill.
"Please select the service required. If you are unsure of the services available, please wait a moment. For transaction and balance information, press one. To pay a bill, press two."
"Following customer feedback, we have simplified the bill payment process. Do you want to pay a bill or transfer funds?"
What? This is normally where I press one again. Who changed the system?
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that."
"Erm," I say. "Pay a bill?"
"I heard you want to pay a bill. Is that correct?"
"Yes." This is annoying. After years and years of numerical input, someone has decided it would be a good idea to introduce voice activation at the final hurdle. Why? I understand that some people might have trouble pushing buttons, but given that you have to press 19 of them to get here - 29 if you include the phone number - it's safe to assume anyone who's made it this far is comfortable with the procedure.
"And who would you like to pay?"
"Um... credit card?"
"I'm sorry, I didn't catch that. Who would you like to pay?"
"You seem to be having problems. Please wait a moment while I connect you with an adviser."
What's going on? Why isn't the nice robot lady telling me to press buttons any more? Nobody likes using voice recognition phone menus, moronically barking snippets of sentences like an archetypal Englishman trying to interact with a foreigner:"Tea! Tea, dammit! T. E. A!" I can still recall the time I spent seven minutes trying to order cinema tickets over the phone - I said "Leeds", the machine heard "Bristol", it was all downhill from there.
"Hello, can I take your name please?"
Click. Stupid phone banking.