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What is your excuse?

For as long as I can remember, I have tried to avoid utilities / bank / councils / whatever, which insists on using the telephone only as part of their customer service frontline. Sometimes, I find myself compromised or faced with no choice but embark into the myriad of irritating telephone systems, along with my inconsistent telecomm solution for the Deaf and HoH – the infamous Typetalk. I am aware that telephone systems are also a major gripe among hearing customers too but they haven’t experienced it through Typetalk, have they. My experiences usually are further compounded with technical problems and compatibility issues and I am sure this is also the case for many of the minicom users out there. The current systems of using Typetalk to access telephone systems and call centres are too inconsistent to make it an empowering experience. I usually get in a grump afterwards so it is affecting the quality of my life because I have to contend with 2 telecomms systems in one go and then pray….

Once I have a breakthrough, one thing I always ask: “Can I have your email address please?” I always get fobbed off because of security issues with using emails. On most occasions, I argue how can they guarantee that the person on the telephone is the actual person they claim to be so therefore isn’t that a security issue? For all we know, they could have the vital information at hand and pass them off as somebody else. Security issues revolving around using Typetalk operators have been brought up many times but, lately, there seemed to be less occurences of this. All Typetalk operators and calls are covered by Data Protection Act and Official Secrets Act.

Anyway, despite my efforts to get corporations to take my communication needs seriously, I never get very far as it is like talking to a robot – “It is company’s policy” – well, do something about it!!!! “It is company policy, I am sorry.” yes, I know but I am telling you I have a problem with this policy and accessing your services “Let me talk to my supervisor…” – …Note from Operator….[music in the background]…..huh, why do I want to know that……..”I am sorry, my supervisor said it is company policy…..”….arggghh!!

I can only deduce that eavesdropping a landline call must be more harder to achieve than hacking an email and vital data ending up with the wrong person – that is my impression. Although I have never seen my email ending up in the wrong hands in all my life, except through human error. Recently, I came across these articles recently – Computerworld | ZDnet – it is highlighting a real concern about the security of making phone calls over VOIP.

This is interesting because VOIP calls can be intercepted over the internet by determined hackers in tenfolds, as compared to eavesdropping on the traditional telephony. Yet, publicity, we are not seeing any waves regarding the withdrawal of telephone customer services in the face of potentially damaging security breaches, especially the ones where vital data are exchanged. Therefore, I cannot see any difference between accessing telephone services via VOIP and email-based customer services, which will, in turn, be an enormous plus for the Deaf and HoH customers. Companies need to wise up when making communication provisions for their customer service frontline. I really can’t see a convincing reason why failing to provide email-based customer services should prevail especially if they are allowing for VOIP calls, email encryption have improved and there are ways to establish secure communicatons online. I am able to communicate with my bank (First Direct) by using the web-based messaging system, which is hosted internally on the browser. I usually get a reply very rapidly. There can be no excuse in continuing with this discriminatory practice of providing only telephone-based customer services. By having this email communication outlet opening up, we can control and deal our own affairs independently and privately anywhere, without needing a minicom within the vicinity.

Does anybody have any thoughts or input to make here?

8 thoughts on “What is your excuse?”

  1. Interesting read, however I don’t have that problem.
    My wife does all this as she is hearing,I always leave the house as it pisses her off these so called robot machines,other wise she will take it out on me!

    On a serous note I try and use local services if there is a bank I bank with such as Barclays and I need to sort out a Barclaycard I make them phone up for me.
    And it shows staff what I have to put up with!

  2. …maybe you should start paying her as your PA! Do you do the ironing to return the favour :-p

    What I am advocating here is having a choice in which companies/service to go for, rather than choosing which one is the most easier to communicate, which narrowed down the scope of my consumer choices.

  3. I agree with you, Tony! Sometimes I hate how hearing people LOVE the phone so much – though I can understand why – and have such problems emailing. It does influence my choice too. Funnily enough, I’ve just been Googling removals companies tonight and rejected many of them on the basis that they aren’t accessible because I NEVER use a minicom, in fact I don’t have one (will probably get one when I move, ironically!).

    One company was cool though, and the woman emailed me quite happily, adding that “We could
    always use text talk ( I think that is the name of the system)if needs be.” I politely declined, however! Will we be using that company? Only if they’re the cheapest!

  4. Well, I hate using the fone, even witha volume control.. and these days with all these call centres and fone based communications, it can be hell… at work, when I ahve to palce orders, I merely set them up, with any instructions and they do it for me.

    But call centres, arghhhhhhhhhhh, hate them. Banks esp. I lost access to internet banking at one bank, because the type fo card I sued changed, and for me to regain that access, I ahd to use the frigging issues. It’s even a hassle going into a bloody branch. They have to hear your voice. Even, when it’s frigging obvious that the bank is ringing on your behalf [internal communciations] they still insist om hearing your voice.

    What is the ansa? Don’t frigging know, other than to whip the bloody idiots!

  5. Hear hear (!). I actually received a Typetalk call at work yesterday, as the “hearing” person, as I have BSL to English Interpreters at work to answer phone calls. The experience was excruciating. I’m not dissing the client’s right to use Typetalk, but it made me see just how bad it is for the end user when a Deaf person is phoning through Typetalk.

    The sticking point for me was the fact that it was so SLOOOOOW.

    Are Deaf professionals expected to use Typetalk? It’s an embarassment! If you’re going to order pizza, then it’s ok, but if you wanted to ring the director of such and such company and make a good impression, Typetalk is definitely NOT a good idea.

  6. @ Jen: You could try Pollards (I think that is right name) from Halifax as their customer service were par for excellence. The guy who came round for a quote was more than happy to use pen and paper to communicate. I used them when I moved down from Shipley to Derby and they even used SMS to communicate with you on the day, and beforehand to confirm a go ahead. It was a godsend and took the stress right out of moving homes. Good luck with your move!

  7. @ Rob: This is exactly why I am loathe to use Typetalk at work. I tend to stick to emails as much as possible even if it means I have to heighten my Inbox admin skills and keep track of my tasks’ threads quite keenly. This is where hearing people have the advantage in the workplace as they can easily pick up the phone and resolve something on the spot. I can’t understand why the growing trend among hearing peep to use emails more than telephones. Is making a phone call over-rated these days?

    Besides, what do you normally do if you don’t have a terp readily available at hand – do you use VRS? Do you have an experience on them?

  8. I have to agree with you about Typetalk

    The spelling from some of the operators are shocking …. even had one typing except when it was accept! …totally different meaning !!

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