Service of Automation Hiccups

November 22nd, 2021

Categories: Automation, Doctors, Pharmacy, Prescription, Technology, Telephone Service

Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

I’ve written 74 posts in the “technology” category the most recent about the hurdles to sign up for the first Covid-19 vaccines; a restaurant where the only way to order was through a smartphone app that was faulty and platform upgrades that benefit the vendor and make life more complicated for the user.

Here are some examples that illustrate that those who designed the programs didn’t consider the vendors or customers.

Seeing Straight

I received an email asking me to make an eye doctor appointment. I’d already done that before leaving my last one but figured the office may have had a computer hiccup that erased all appointments so I called. There were 17 people ahead of me–an unusually high number. [I use telephone waits to water plants]. Turns out my appointment is scheduled and that the lovely assistant who kept her sense of humor said she’d received countless similar calls. The email had been sent automatically, she explained. My suggestion: revise the automated notification so people with appointments don’t get such reminders. Then office staff can focus on their work and patients don’t waste their time.

Here’s to Your Health

Prescription renewals usually take a minute by phone using a simple system: the customer types or says the Rx number. This time after I’d punched in the numbers the computer voice turned me over to the pharmacy department. Another wait. The pharmacy clerk who took my name and that of the prescription mouthwash was out of breath on answering and said to come in for it in the afternoon. The automated system used to do the same. Why bother drugstore staff? I have a lot of plants to water but not that many.

Do You Hear Me Now?

I’m early on this journey to unravel malfunctions galore and may write a post about the twists and turns once there’s resolution. But for this post I will simply note that to change my Verizon account from my husband’s first name to mine has caused tangles of many layers. Just one: the company is now billing me for both the cancelled account and mine. Hoping for resolution to this and the rest very soon. I think I’m in capable hands.

Have you found that some automated systems have fallen short or wasted your time? Which ones worked like a charm? What do you do while waiting on hold to speak with someone?

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay  


8 Responses to “Service of Automation Hiccups”

  1. ASK Said:

    I also tried to change the first name on our Optimum account after my husband passed away. The rep I spoke with advised against it: I would have to change the number of my landline telephone (I won’t do it…during the last power outage, several people rang the doorbell asking to use it…cell lines were overloaded), they would have to run a credit check, even though my name was on the payment checks, and there might be a service interruption on the cable TV. Seven years later, my husband’s name is still on the account.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I am now pretty sure I will write about this as soon as my issues are resolved.

  3. Martha Takayama Said:

    I don’t know of any automated system that works even reasonably well, let alone like a charm. I think that these systems, their interminable hold times, their layers of message takers who may or may not have adequate language skills in English (when one opts for English) and all their other inadequacies have turned even the simplest of tasks into a nightmare on hold. I am not interested in the excuse that because of Covid’s services are all short-staffed. The major Boston Hospitals with their average 25 minute waits to speak to a human being are not short staffed because workers are protected from exposure by not being in the hospitals. The calls are farmed out to different states and apparently to people working at home. The ceaselessly fundraising Dana Farber Cancer Institute doesn’t even have people answering their phones within at least a half hour after they are supposed to be open. One employee lamented that the calls go to a message center in Maine and there seem to be some staffing problems. Enough said. We seem to going steadily backwards in terms of productivity, accessibility, responsibility, efficiency and accountability. Make work seems to be the order of the day.

  4. Debbie Kunen Said:

    Debbie on Facebook I had to contact Duane Reade to cxl auto renewal for my eye drops as I still had enough for 3 months in the fridge. When I needed to know other prescriptions were ready (months ago) the auto system cxld that. Oy. You either get too much or nothing at all. ☹️

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I was so hoping that someone might come up with an example of an automated system that worked flawlessly and saved time. Your examples make me feel anxious. I suspect these waits may have occurred before Covid and that now the institutions have an excuse for the delays.

    I imagine it’s difficult for those for whom English isn’t their native tongue to try to be understood. My father had a lovely French accent and surely he ran into people who didn’t understand what he was saying. However, I doubt he would have sought–or been given–a job as a receptionist or customer service person. Today, people with heavy accents in English are hired for such jobs. I received a robo call message from NYC urging me to get a vaccine. It was a first such message said by someone with a strong accent and I wondered why she was chosen for the recording.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I had to explain to my drug store for the umpteenth time that I do not want monthly auto renewal for a medication that lasts three months or more. I still received phone calls and email reminders. I don’t want to jinx myself but I think the last person I spoke with may actually have disconnected me from these reminders. Fingers crossed.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Speaker phones are godsends when it comes to be put on hold for any amount of time. Better yet are outfits, such as Verizon & Ebay who give the option of a call back.

    Glitches in systems cause inconvenience, but it’s the price one pays for technology. Usually, the plusses outweigh the minuses. Having said that, hope I’m not made to eat my words!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I’d rather not be negative but I suspect it’s only a matter of time…..

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