I Don’t Talk To Machines

A whack looking bug-eyed silver robot claymation figure.

As a rule, I don’t talk to machines.

Well, to be honest, I have been known to soothingly coax the car, angrily curse the computer and gratefully coo at a working HVAC–both in summer and winter. But these are always one way interactions. We don’t have conversations.

I did try to conversate with that simple-Simon, Siri, but she is the most useless of all. I thought if I provided feedback it would get better. It did not.

I get quite peeved at those too-clever-by-half robo calls that try and trick you into talking by using pauses and intonations that make you think you are speaking with a real person. They don’t fool me, though. I quickly hang up and THEN curse. I am not engaging with a machine. Even to give them what for. I learned from Siri. They don’t learn.

When I call the credit card company and they ask me to speak my card number, I dial it in. I remain silent if they ask me a question. I just want a human (who always asks me for the account number that I just entered, but that’s a different complaint.)

Today I continued to have trouble with the Barnes & Noble textbook returns. The instructions were to print out a return label. For the past two days, I went online and got the error message “ups service is down please try after some time.”

So I hit up the chat feature. This is the verbatim chat.

Lanie : Hi, my name is Lanie . How may I help you? 
ME: Yes, please. 
Lanie : Hi. 
ME: I am trying to print out the labels to return textbooks since yesterday. But I get an error that says to come back “after some time.” 
ME: Books are due on the 11th! 
ME: when is after some time? 
Lanie : I understand you need assistance with rental and I’m happy to help you. 
Lanie : The packing slip is the paper that came with the original package of the book. If you no longer have it you may print the order confirmation email and use it as the packing slip. 
ME: lanie are you a machine 
ME: this is the worst chat ever. 
Lanie : I’m sorry. But I’m not a machine. 
ME: you are just acting like one?
ME: No offense, but you did not respond to my question. So I thought you were a machine. 
ME: Just spewing based on a key word or two.
Lanie : I do apologized if you feel that way. 
ME: so can you go back and read my question and respond to the question that I actually asked?
ME: I feel like I am texting with Siri. She’s not very good at listening, either. 
Lanie : Have you tried this steps on the web page https://help.barnesandnoble.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/2903/kw/return%20label
ME: uh. that’s the issue. 
ME: Step 4: 
ME: 4. Locate the textbook that you want to return and click Print Shipping Label. A pop-up lists the address of a UPS location close to your shipping address.
ME: when i click i get the above error message: “ups service is down please try after some time.”
Lanie : Oh, I see. I can send you a return label instead. 
ME: via email? 
Lanie : Yes, I will send thru your email. 
ME: okay. 
ME: will you do that this morning? 
Lanie : Yes, sure. I will send it right away. 
Lanie : Is there anything else I can help you with? 
Lanie : Are you there? 
Lanie : Are you there? We’d like to help you, but I need you to respond. I will continue to wait for 2 minutes, but after that, I will have to disconnect from this session to assist other customers. We apologize for the inconvenience 
ME: okay 
Lanie : I’m sorry but I have not heard back from you and there are some other customers who need some help. I will have to sign off our session now, but when you have more time please get back to us so that we can give you the help you need. Just contact us again by email at service@barnesandnoble.com, or by phone at 1-800-THE-BOOK (1-800-843-2665). Have a great day! 
ME: i’m done 
Lanie : Thank you. 

Lanie has disconnected. 

And 11 hours later? Still no label. Screw you, Machine. Totally disconnected.

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