CityBeat’s Living Out Loud – Cincinnati Blog

{April 23, 2007}   What am I Talking To?

voice-mail-keypad.gifNo one has to tell me that I’m a little grumpy and like things done the old fashion way – like when I call up a company to ask a question or to get some information. When I make that call, I like to get a live voice. I don’t want to have to press buttons on my phone to get directed to the right person or department. I want it to be quick and easy.

Basically, I don’t like talking to machines. In my view, it slows down my world and it ain’t process.

As I’ve said more than a few times here on the blog, I do some consulting work for Elgin Office Equipment here in downtown Cincinnati. Guess what? They don’t have voice mail. Every time you call Elgin, you here a live voice. That’s the way it should be everywhere.

To read a column that I wrote back in December, 2003 about voice mail and all the shit that goes with it, click here.

How do you feel about talking to a tape – about talking to a machine? Does it piss you off? Does it anger you that you have to go through pressing a series of buttons on your phone just to talk to a live voice?

Larry Gross

(Graphic from


Harvey says:

For me it depends on the situation. If I want customer service or something like that, yeah, I want a live voice right away. If I need to talk to someone about a past due bill I owe, I PRAY for a machine.

Polly says:

I surely agree with you. Pressing buttons and talking to machines is not progress. It really bugs me to call so called “customer service” and get a machine.

hard as nails says:

i hate people. i hate talking on the phone. i pray for voice mail. please, god, please.

Scot says:

I have never seen a guy so living in the past. Voice mail is here to say. Get over it.

Karen says:

Man, Larry, you are an old grump 🙂

misplaced says:

I agree with you Larry-

The other thing that puts a bee in my bonnet is them dang horseless carriages. The young people driving hither and yon fit to beat the band- raising a ruckus hopped up on bathtub gin scarin’ my chickens and spookin’ the horses- and don’t even get me started on them moving picture shows.

Gus_J says:

Vote with your dollars brother. I know it’s a pain in the ass. I started doing it a few years ago. For example, skip the big bank and find a credit union, or a smaller bank (there are still a few) that have live tellers you can talk to. If a business pisses you off, don’t go there anymore, complain to management and tell all your friends. Hopefully if enough people do that, irresponsible f**k the consumer please the shareholder businesses will go away. It’s all about the $ to these twits. I haven’t set foot in a wal-mart for over 4 years and recently added Circuit City to the never again list they own carmax, and recently when shopping for a car, I skipped carmax.

I don’t mind a call menu, but it has to be short and concise, and hold time should be under 2 minutes. Don’t ask me for my account number, ssn, or anything else I shouldn’t be broadcasting over public comm lines, that’s irresponsible. It really pisses me off if after all that the first thing they ask me for is the same info I just entered.

Scott, accepting change is different than bending over for corporations. Be a more responsible consumer, or you’ll have to eventually “get over” being the sheep.

Jackie says:

Here, here! Gus, you are my hero.

Marilyn says:

Larry, I’m ecstatic that I now have dsl internet instead of the pokey ole dial up.

HOWEVER, I’ve been in voicemail prompt hell with them for a week trying to straighten out my e-mail. I won’t bore you with the details. I do know that I’m going to call them today, lie and tell them it’s an installation problem so I can get a human on the phone to walk me through the fix.

I’ve played all their games, listened to many minutes of electronic “help” solutions, and I just need a human being on the other end.

Gus_J says:

Jackie, Aw shucks

Marilyn, hit me up at maybe I can help. No promises though 🙂

Marilyn says:

Okeee, sent you an e-mail with one pertinent question. I’m generally pretty computer savvy (though it sometimes takes me a bit longer than the younger pc users!), and so this is really getting under my skin!

Tate says:

Customer service died in this country in the 80’s and voice mail has just made it worse. This is not what I would call progress.

Brian says:

If it were up to Gross, he would still be using carbon paper.

hard as nails says:

to be fair, larry hasn’t used carbon paper in weeks.

David says:

I don’t know how old Gross is but I’m a young guy and I happen to totally agree with him. Talking to machines, and punching numbers on your phone in an attempt to get to a live voice is a big turn off to me.

Marilyn says:


1st: Thanks to Gus, I’m e-mailing happily.

2nd: Had to make several calls to my health insurance carrier (read as: Satan, fer real!). Got trapped in voice prompt hell (no number pushing here, just talking to a machine) and found out that in this type system, if I muttered some gibberish or simply said “customer representative”, lo and behold, I actually got through to a human!

Larry, you can call today’s blog a public service spot!

Theresa says:

I have to agree that constantly talking to machines in the business world is a setback and it’s not progress. Talking to a live voice streamlines everything. In this regard, let’s go back to the 70’s.

Cathy Patter says:

Living in the past much?

Ned says:

The worst is dealing with credit card companies and screw. Last week, it took me 15 minutes just to get a real person.

jackula says:

i like this gus guy. how come he’s not writing posts here?

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