Have you ever called a service provider and then had to talk to a machine? I know you have, it is the current state of almost all customer support phone lines these days. The other day I had to call Bell to change some of the plan settings on my pre-paid cellphone and of course I ran into the “choose one of the following options” juggernaut. It seems that these systems are designed to insulate service people from ever having to actually talk to a customer. It took 4 phone calls and probably 30 options to discover the first living, breathing person I could actually voice my request to. However I was almost immediately informed that they were the incorrect person and that they would transfer my call. The transfer took me to one of the original “choose one of …” systems from which no option lead to a real person. This circular and totally useless call transfer run around lasted another 30 minutes, until I discovered my third living breathing body of the day. Yes he could help me, after he checked every known detail about me, my account, my cell, my address and any and all numbers associated with my account. Then he put me on hold for 15 minutes, presumably to go get a coffee and a rest up after all the work of identifying me as me. When he finally returned it took all of 5 minutes to make the adjustments to each of three cell phone accounts. So in my experience a total of 15 minutes work took approximately 50 minutes to complete and was so thoroughly aggravating I may never call them again. Success in Bell’s eyes no doubt, a damn shame in mine. No doubt these answering systems save companies a ton of money since they need hire far fewer people to answer phones and talk to customers, the ones who ultimately pay for such systems. However they are so impersonal, cold and unfriendly as to drive customers away in droves and the company websites are little better. There is no such thing as customer service any longer, companies simply want you to buy their products and go away … until the next greatest, latest, coolest, gotta have this or you’ll die product is released that is. That’s my answering machine rant now I feel better … oh wait I just have to call Rogers about my TV account ….