Saturday, 5 August 2017

"This is an official message from Centrelink....

we are pleased to announce that your pension rates are increasing. If you are on the pension please press 2 to continue. If not press 1..."
I did not press either. The voice was not clear. The Senior Cat would not have understood what was being said because her diction was so poor.
If the message was genuine it was also the wrong way to go about informing people. It would be confusing for many elderly people. It would frighten some. Had they done something wrong? Were there more buttons to press? Who was talking to them? Why had they got a phone call when they always got a letter? Or, for the few older people who get their Centrelink information by email why was Centrelink phoning and not emailing them?
I don't know if the message was genuine or not. I didn't have time to listen. I was getting the Senior Cat's meal on the table. I had work to do and a deadline to meet. 
Given the number of telephone scams around I wouldn't risk pressing button 2...and then more buttons. I wouldn't give them any information over the phone. I keep copies of official correspondence I send. I date it and, once in a while, I have even sent it registered post so that I can have proof of delivery at the other end of whatever department or office or person with whom I need to make contact.
It doesn't always work of course. I have sent four letters registered post this year. Two were ignored to the point where I went on social media and demanded action. (It is amazing what even the most mild negative publicity can do in terms of at least getting a response - and my demand for an answer was at least polite - politer than the response I eventually received.) I didn't expect an actual response to the other letters...but there should be some acknowledgment of it at a meeting today. 
Phone calls don't always work. The Senior Cat likes the phone. He says, "I like an immediate response. I like to know the person at the other end has got the message. You can't tell with email."
I point out you can't tell with a letter either...and that people aren't always there when you phone and... well all sorts of things. He isn't going to change his views. 
I reserve physical letter writing - and the cost of the postage - for important things and for the once a year Christmas letters.  I use email where I can. If I want someone to do something then I want to give them time to consider their response. It puts people under less pressure than a phone call. I hate it when people phone me and ask me to do something then expect an immediate answer when I can't give them one. Sometimes it really isn't possible to give them one.  Sometimes it is not  convenient to talk.
And those automated calls? Why should I give up time to listen to an automated call?
If it is that important to tell me something then write me a letter. If you must, send me an email. I can choose whether to read it or not.
If there is absolutely no choice about an automated call then apologise, say it is urgent - and choose a person with a good, clear speaking voice!  

1 comment:

Jodiebodie said...

You are wise to identify a phone scam when your communications have always been by the written word. Sometimes people in these departments make changes to people's records without letting you know like accidentally ticking a box to say you would prefer phone contact instead of letters; e.g. you are discussing an issue with an officer of the agency and they ask you whether they can get back to you by phone. You may interpret that question as "Can I phone you about this particular matter?" to which your intention might be "Yes, call me on this matter but for everything else, continue to contact me by the post/email". In those circumstances it can occur that the officer ticks the box for phone contact but the computer applies it to all communications.

It might pay to check with Centrelink that your communications options are still correct.

You mentioned poor diction of the person on the other end of the phone line. I notice that the VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phone standard - I think this is the method now used for phones when the NBN is installed - is not as clear as the old analogue phone lines for voice transmission. Because the voice data is sent via the internet, there is no control as to whether the signal goes across town or around the world before it arrives at the recipient's phone. Who knows what happens to that signal on its journey. It is often obvious when someone is calling on a VOIP line because it sounds like they are talking from inside a washing machine!

You hear it a lot more nowadays on talk radio too. Because the phone lines to the studios then need to go through the studio desk and transmitter (where the signal gets compressed and processed all over again to meet the bandwidth requirements), if the original VOIP quality is poor when it gets to the studio, it can become totally unintelligible once it gets to air on radio. (Does that make sense?)

Sometimes it isn't the person's speech that is at fault but the technology.