The Robots of Service Ontario

Hey guys! Long time no see! I live in Ontario and it had turned from autumn to WINTER since the last time I talked to you. Let's dive in!

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Last week, I lost my health card so I called Service Ontario.

robots are taking over the world

After getting through a whole bunch of robotic messages and pressing of numbers and keys, I was put on hold and a music started to play. After a few seconds, it stopped, there was a silent pause, and just when I thought I was getting a human on the phone, a chipper robot voice chimed in,

“Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is important to us. The next available customer service representative will be with you as soon as possible.”

Ugh. Okay, I was mildly annoyed but I gave them an excuse, “they just want people to understand. Maybe my call really is important to them.”

After a few seconds, the music came to a complete halt, there was a silent pause again and just as I took a breath, preparing myself to listen to a human...

“Thank you for continuing to hold. Your call is important to us. The next available customer service representative will be with you as soon as possible.” The Robot. Again. In the exact same tone. Oh my God.

I tried my best to keep my temper. "This is normal. This is what people have to do to get to a real person. A real person will answer any moment now." I continued to hold.

Music. Short pause. “THANK you for continuing to HOLD. Your call IS important TO us. The next available customer service representative WILL be with you AS soon as possible.” The Robot had gotten worse. The not-a-real-person-ness of her is getting more pronounced to my ears. I could feel my blood beginning to boil.

I must keep it together. I thought, surely, this must be it. Nobody would allow that annoying message more than three times, even if they were the government. I continued to hold.

Music. Deceptive pause. “THANK you for continuing to HOLD. Your call IS important TO us. The next available customer service representative WILL be with you AS soon as possible. PRESS NINE to return to the previous MENU.”

Press nine to return to the previous menu? PRESS NINE TO RETURN TO THE PREVIOUS MENU? What does it mean, press nine to return to the previous menu! Is that a passive aggressive way of telling me to give up? I could feel this urge to throw the phone across the room. But I can't let Service Ontario win. And heck no, I will not be pressing nine.

Another 25 times of this goes by. Maybe the line is forever busy and I will never get a real person. Maybe this is all a scam. Maybe there was never a Service Ontario. Have the robots already taken over and I'm just realizing it??

Finally, when the music came to a halt, the voice speaking was not a robot. I could tell not because he didn’t say “Thank you for continuing to hold” but because it was a much much much grumpier voice.

“Service Ontario, my name is Joe howmayIhelpyou?” Joe sounded like he was giving up half way through the sentence. He had the tone of a guy at the brink of his life, just barely hanging on.

And I’ve never appreciated him more.

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I hope you are dressing warmly, wherever you are. Have a good week guys!

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