Speaking your account number into a phone to an automated system is the most idiotic thing in my opinion.
So I call up to pay my bill on the phone. There's no "Press one for English", though there was some statement in Spanish that I assume instructed me to say "Espanol" if I wanted things in Spanish. Then I have to wait and go through a litany of menus where I'm instructed to speak into the phone "Yes" or "No", "Billing" or "Service" etc...
I felt like a fucking idiot speaking to this machine that made clicking noises in the background like something out of a 1960 horror movie where the machines take control as it processed my instructions. It sounded like relay switches going on and off. Anyway, I finally end up at the payment area and I'm required to speak my account numbers into the phone.
This is the ridiculous part. Speaking clearly, it still got the numbers wrong two times before it finally accepted payment. Not exactly confidence inducing. I would much rather type the numbers into the phone when dealing with account numbers. Now I sat there wondering if it really did get all my details correct. Call it a gut feeling. After getting it wrong twice is it going to accidentally put in the incorrect account information so that I find a nice "unpaid fee" on my next bill?
Automated systems are nice in some instances, but making your customers feel like a little two year old who can't follow directions properly is not really the best way to build repoire with them.
So doubting the payment went through I called back. I went through the crap again until I dug so deep into the menus I could actually find a way to contact an actual human. I was greeted with an "I don't know" from the woman on the phone regarding whether the information was correct. She said their was payment pending, but couldn't verify my account details. I asked for a supervisor and I'm not sure if she got one or was just blowing me off after putting me on hold for a couple minutes. She informed me that if the payment was denied by my bank that I would be charged $20 for a returned payment fee. Great, I could be charged for their automated system screw up!
She took my home phone and told me to call the phone system and cancel the payment and make a new one and that she'd call me back. She'd call me back? When? I'm not going to sit around waiting for her call. Anyway after shaking my head for a few minutes I called the system back and after fucking with it for a good 15 minutes I realized there was no cancel pending payment option. I hung up and sat there for a minute a little pissed that they would yank me around by telling me to do something that wasn't possible. Then I decided to call back and see if I could get a different operator who maybe actually sounded like they knew what the hell they were doing.
And I did. An operator who sounded more confident came on. He took my info and after trying to cancel the other payment and submit a new payment he checked the details of the pending payment and sounded more excited than I was that the account numbers matched what I gave him over the phone. He said there was no way to determine if it would go through at this time though and that I could call back tomorrow.
I don't plan on calling back unless I check my account and don't see activity, but there is something wrong with having an automated system that doesn't allow operators in billing to do anything about them.
In the end is it really worth saving the cost of a stamp by using an automated system if it could screw up and get you charged a $20 fee? I don't think so and from now on when dealing with this company my payments will be mailed.
In addition the time used for this simple transaction by both myself and the operators is just such a waste.