09 February 2011

Press 1 for...

I got a call from American Airlines the other day, letting me know my flight from Chicago to Cedar Rapids had been cancelled and I was being rescheduled on a new flight. The automated voice on the other end kindly provided the new flight information and a confirmation code, which I dutifully wrote down.

Only problem - I wasn't actually flying anywhere that day.

Yup, some poor schmoo inadvertently gave the airline my phone number and thus missed getting notified about the flight change.

Being the diligent dude that I am, I called the airline to let them know their message didn't reach its intended recipient. Let me tell you, this is not a situation the system designers anticipated. There was no option to Press Seven If You Received A Call That Was Supposed To Go To Someone Else. My conversation with the chipper computer went something like this.

Computer: Please state the traveler's name.
Me: Um, I don't know.
Computer: Did you say Turnbull?
Me: No
Computer: Please state the traveler's name.
Me: I don't know.
Computer: Did you say Durnho?
Me: Help
Computer: I would be glad to help. Please state the traveler's name.

Would you believe I hung in there long enough to get through to a person? And of course, that person did not have an alternate phone number, so this hapless, unnamed traveler would have to wait until arriving at the airport before finding out the flight was delayed / rescheduled... which I guess isn't a huge deal, right?

Should the automated message have included an option for someone to provide a "Sorry, wrong number" response? I don't know. Maybe this doesn't happen often. And when it does happen, the impact is relatively minimal - I mean, the guy was probably on the way to the airport anyway. But it doesn't seem like it would have been that much effort to add a short "If this message was not intended for you, press 7" or something, if only to avoid inconveniencing people in situations like mine.


Steve said...

It happens more often than you imagine but what will your reaction be the next time you get a call like this? Would you invest the time and effort to contact the airline based on your recent experience? I think the airline would agree with you that it isn't a huge deal. I'm sure most people devise their own "press 7" by simply ignoring the call and hanging up.

Kelly said...

If you want to save some time in getting to someone who doesn't know how to help you out, you can use GetHuman.com to find out how to circumvent those awful automated systems.