vass: Serpent Guard, caption: "I always get a happy tingly feeling when I see those guys." (Tingly)
Vass ([personal profile] vass) wrote in [community profile] accessibility_fail2013-07-26 11:38 am
Entry tags:

I just had the worst phone customer service experience of my life to date

So, Centrelink (Australian social services) decided to review my rent assistance (if I don't confirm that my details haven't changed or give them the new details, they stop my rent assistance.) And at the same time the rent assistance part of their website went offline, with no ETA for when it'll be back, so I couldn't confirm that my details hadn't changed on their website.

So my options were print out the form and take it to my landlords to sign (I don't own a printer, and even if I did I'd have to take it to said landlords, and that's social interaction I didn't want) or use their automated phone service. I didn't think it would be that bad. It was.

They asked me to repeat the word 'yes' three times in a row, ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION because they couldn't understand me. I realise I have mild speech dysfluency issues, I do realise that. [actually, I have a speech pathology appointment today.] But it's not THAT bad. It's never been so bad that a person (or even a machine) literally could not tell whether I was saying yes or no.

Like other people with dysfluencies, I get worse when I'm anxious. Like, if I'm on the phone for nearly an hour and the recorded voice is dictating long strings of numbers in a disjointed rhythm and at different vocal registers and with no pause before or after the dictation, and I need to write those down [I have auditory processing problems too, specifically auditory working memory] and they also want information from me and won't tell me in advance what information I need so I can go get it, and also they can't understand me and I'm talking as clearly as I can, that would be a nightmare affect how clearly I can speak.

Also, sometimes it allowed me to use the keypad to enter numbers, or to use 1 for yes and 2 for no, and sometimes it wouldn't, and it wouldn't tell me when it was appropriate or when it wasn't. And there was a period when it wanted my driver's license and I typed it into the keypad, and it said "I'm sorry, I can't understand you. Can you repeat that?" and it happened TWICE IN A ROW. The KEYPAD. I figured out that it was because I was sobbing quietly. My sobs overrode the keypad numbers. I covered the mouthpiece while I was entering numbers after that.

There was a point where it asked me if I wanted to speak to a real person. I said yes. It couldn't understand me, so it just kept going.

[additional tags: phone]
jesse_the_k: Callum Keith Rennie shouts "Fuck no!"  (Fuck no sez CKR!)

[personal profile] jesse_the_k 2013-07-26 03:19 am (UTC)(link)
Geez o Pete that sounds like hell.

Same frozen terror happens to me re phone.

Are you interested in suggested workarounds?
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)

[personal profile] lilacsigil 2013-07-26 03:56 am (UTC)(link)
Centrelink! Making your life hell since ever! I heard an absolutely awful Centrelink story from a customer this morning (involving domestic violence) but not being able to access their compulsory service at all is just foul.
inoru_no_hoshi: A tiny white bunny curled up in a white teacup set on pink cloth. (bunny in a teacup)

[personal profile] inoru_no_hoshi 2013-07-26 04:26 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, ugh. :( That sounds awful. :(
lauredhel: two cats sleeping nose to tail, making a perfect circle. (Default)

[personal profile] lauredhel 2013-07-26 06:23 am (UTC)(link)
OMFG, what a nightmare.

I wish these sorts of organisations would take a leaf out of the book of companies like Amazon, and run a decent online-chat service as one of their contact options.
pne: A picture of a plush toy, halfway between a duck and a platypus, with a green body and a yellow bill and feet. (Default)

[personal profile] pne 2013-07-26 06:38 am (UTC)(link)
I wonder whether the difference is that Amazon is interested in providing a service and would like to retain customers, while social services often seem to delight in withholding service and would love to get rid of customers if they could somehow make it seem not their fault. (“Well, youronner, she didn’t call back to confirm so it was her free decision not to continue receiving services from us! We would have loved to continue to help her, and in fact we provided three methods of contacting us, for her convenience!” IOW, about the appearance of service rather than because they take it seriously.)

Maybe I’m too cynical about that.
amadi: A stylized photo of two calla lily flowers (Default)

[personal profile] amadi 2013-07-26 06:48 am (UTC)(link)
You're not too cynical at all, says the social work student. Not at all.
lauredhel: two cats sleeping nose to tail, making a perfect circle. (Default)

[personal profile] lauredhel 2013-07-26 06:50 am (UTC)(link)
Probably not too cynical, no. Sigh.

[personal profile] treeowl 2013-07-28 07:43 am (UTC)(link)
Here in America there are agencies that turn down pretty much everyone who applies, figuring that anyone who really needs services can appeal one or two or three times. Right. I have one friend who's now been turned down for disability benefits twice—and there is really no way he could get or keep a job in his current condition.
azurelunatic: Azz and best friend grabbing each other's noses.  (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2013-07-26 07:38 am (UTC)(link)
Ugh ugh ugh :(
pauamma: Cartooney crab holding drink (Default)

[personal profile] pauamma 2013-07-26 01:48 pm (UTC)(link)
*growl*
barakta: (Default)

[personal profile] barakta 2013-07-28 09:52 pm (UTC)(link)
Typical of government organisations I find, who then tell you it's your fault for not being able to access all their "craply" accessible options.

I can't use the phone at all these days cos I can't type well enough to do relay. I'm lucky I do have a printer but handwriting is a problem. I wish people would realise impairments cross different things for lots of us!