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]