Tired of voice menus on the phone?

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Ned

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Try http://www.gethuman.com/us/ for a list of companies and the trick to bypass the voice menus and talk to a real person.
 

Ned

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The author is always looking for more companies to add to the list, so if you know of any company codes not on the list, please let him know.

One trick is always try is pressing 0 as soon as the top menu voice starts.  It often works to get a person immediately.  At worst, it just restarts the menu.
 

Wendy

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You may get a live person but don't count on them speaking English very well. United's customer service has gone out of country and I went through 3 customer service reps before I got one I could understand. I would have done better with Tom speaking Welsh.
 

Ned

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A human voice, in any accent close to English, is better than a recording :)
 

Tom

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LOL Ned, I feel much better knowing that I'm one notch above a voicemail message.
 

Wendy

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I'm not talking about accented English. I like accents. I'm talking about customer service reps whose English is unintelligible. Of course, there are also those tech support people who are reading straight from a script and if you interrupt to ask a question or try to move things along, they have to go back to the beginning and ask their first question.
 

Ned

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Well, there are those, but that's another problem entirely.  In those cases, even the Muzak on hold may be preferable :)
 

Tom

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wendycoke said:
I'm talking about .... whose English is unintelligible.

LOL Wendy, some folks say that about my English. If I'm talking with a fellow Welshman in near-Queen's-English (well, with a bit of Wenglish thrown in), folks will sometimes ask Chris "are they speaking Welsh?"

On the flip side, we used to have non-Brit Europeans (who's first language was not English) visit our California company and say to me "you can't be American, you don't talk funny like all these other folks".  ;D

I've had numerous Asian Indians as colleagues and subordinates, so maybe my ears are better calibrated. But I once had a boss who told me "I can't understand a word that guy (an Indian) says, how about you?" I replied "he's clear as a bell".  ???

In another situation, that same boss, while listening to an Indian who was making a presentation, interrupted and said "I can't understand a word you're saying". Seeing the embarrassment on the recipient's face, another Inidian in the room said "they don't think as fast as us; Just speak a little slower so they can keep up". The whole room burst into laughter.

After many years of working in multi-national companies in addition to companies with many nationalities represented in the same location and having travelled extensively around the world, I truly believe that most of us who primarily speak English are lazy; We won't learn and speak other languages, yet we expect folks in other countries to speak our language when we visit their country. A "foreigner" who speaks English, even it's not highly intelligible, is doing something a lot of us can't be othered to do. i.e. speak to us in our language.

When someone is too lazy to listen past an accent, I let them know that it requires both ends of the communication to function - transmitter and receiver.  ;D

Folks, y'all had better start learning Mandarin because one of these days we may not be the super power.
 

Wendy

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Tom said:
I truly believe that most of us who primarily speak English are lazy; We won't learn and speak other languages, yet we expect folks in other countries to speak our language when we visit their country. A "foreigner" who speaks English, even it's not highly intelligible, is doing something a lot of us can't be othered to do. i.e. speak to us in our language.


I absolutely agree. I believe in mandatory foreign language instruction in schools. And I wouldn't visit a foreign country expecting them to speak English, I would assume that I had better know more than a few words of the language spoken in the country I'm visiting (which is why I can say "Where's the restroom?" and "How much does it cost?" in 18 languages). In Germany, I'll speak German. In Russia, I'll speak Russian. And I'm trying to learn Spanish in case we ever get to Mexico. But that's not the same thing as calling customer service for a U.S. company, at a U.S. phone number, and getting someone not in the U.S. who doesn't speak English understandable to the average American.
 

Tom

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wendycoke said:
...I can say "Where's the restroom?" and "How much does it cost?" in 18 languages

Wow, that's impressive! I must admit to being top of the list when it comes to being lazy about learning other languages. At school, Latin was non-elective and I aced it without studying, but I couldn't see an application beyond being a Physician or Pharmacist (all scripts in the UK are written in Latin), or possibly a Catholic priest (but I was brought up a Protestant). I did OK with non-elective French, but didn't appreciate it until we were in the Maritimes some 45 years later and I was digging deep into my grey matter.

... getting someone not in the U.S. who doesn't speak English understandable to the average American.

Is that because of accent, or maybe phonetics? Many languages, including my native Welsh, do not contain some of the sounds present in English as we speak it. Also, different grammar will preclude parts of some words or sentences from being spoken.

Simple examples are the lack of the "R" sound in Japanese (they'll substitute "L"), or languages which would, for example, have the possessive form written as "The chair of Tom" instead of "Tom's chair". The latter will often result in "Tom chair" being spoken, which some folks might incorrectly interpret as the speaker/writer being somewhat illiterate or non-English speaking.

Speed and pitch are two additional factors that can significantly affect intelligiblity. When under stress or are excited, some cultures speak faster and at higher pitch which, to the untrained or inexperienced ear, sounds unintelligible (Remember the "slow down" example in my prior message? Also, the "are they speaking Welsh" example?)

I suspect that "unitelligibility" is a combination of all the above and, in some cases, a lack of receptivity on the part of the listener.
 

Wendy

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Tom said:
I suspect that "unitelligibility" is a combination of all the above and, in some cases, a lack of receptivity on the part of the listener.

My complaint is that when I'm calling customer service I shouldn't have to try to understand the service rep. I'm more than happy at other times to be receptive to the speaker. Working in the National Parks, I always tried to understand park visitors, often using a weird combination of languages to make it work. And just the other day, a young couple came up to Mike and I in Wal-Mart asking where they could find "water with gas"....we spent quite a while with them, showing them different things, using my German and the young man's English, trying to find what they wanted. There was no problem with either his accented English or my accented German. But neither one of us was engaged in a customer service relationship. I guess it's the nature of the relationship that makes a difference.

BYW, Tom, is it true that there's no way to say "Where's the restroom?" in Welsh????

 

Tom

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wendycoke said:
BYW, Tom, is it true that there's no way to say "Where's the restroom?" in Welsh?

LOL Wendy, actually, there is. It's "ble mae'r ty bach?" which, literally translated, says "where's the small house?" (Think of the outhouse at the bottom of the garden to understand where it originated).

In a pub or restaurant in Wales, the little boys room would be marked with the equivalent of hombres - "Dynion".

To this day we have problems with folks misunderstanding some sounds. e.g. if I go into a store and ask for maps (as in street maps), I'm shown where the mops and brushes are. I see the deer in the headlights look and the folks muttering under their breath "can't this guy speakada English?"

When Chris used to call our friends' business and ask for Jan, the receptionist would always say "there's no John working here". If Jan happened to overhear the conversation, she'd say "oh, that's my friend Chris".
 

John From Detroit

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Let me put my feelings on telephone voice mail robots this way:

To the tune of "Wade in the Water"

<refrain>
Wade, through the menus
Wade, through the menus people
Wade, through the menus
Your'e gonna have to wade through the menus

Called my doctor I was feeling sick
Wade through the menus
A voice mail system was waiting there
You know I couldn't wade through the menus
Called the lawyer just to sue the doc
Wade through the menus
His phone robot is what I got

Refrain...


Anyone want me to post the entire thing... It is supposed to be on this computer but I can't find it
You know I couldn't wade through the menus
 

Tom

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wendycoke said:
You'll have to teach me how to say that in Moab.

OK Wendy, a Welsh lesson in Moab it is. Meanwhile, you could practice getting your tongue around this one (see attached).
 

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