Voice Recognition Software (VRS) - the perils

No name, no pack drill but I’ve encountered an organisation who asks customers to pay bills via VRS, with no option to talk to a human if things go awry…and they did. The VRS system concerned wouldn’t recognised letters (L/W/G/D in the main) spoken to it via a moby - not a bad line either. It responded with confirmations of punctuation marks and other non-alphabetic characters. Not even close.

Of course, the organisation concerned appears to be denying issues with their system and that it’s my fault ---- of course, I’ve no way of validating what went on. AFAIK, I completed everything eventually after the Plan B option of using the moby keypad. It seems they now want an extra pound of flesh for non-payment as, obviously, their system didn’t capture/process my inputs…and I was wondering when the pending debit was going to land.

Anyone had similar bunfights like this?

One saving grace was that the VRS wasn’t accessed on a premium rate line - I know some are.

Voice/speech recognition software has come a long way, and we use it frequently at work to compile reports - most people love it, I think it’s a mixed bag and I feel so sorry for our secretarial staff who have technology potentially replacing work they’ve done for decades.

It’s certainly faster than digital or tape transcription and subsequent secretarial typing, as you have to go back and authorise those reports typed by a secretary who is often not transcribing things ‘live’ which delays reports being issued.

The big issue is that it does frequently get things wrong and even though you proof read text created by speech recognition the brain seems to skim read, and goes straight to a glaring error say in paragraph 3 and you forget to check earlier text properly due to being satisfied detecting a later error. Often text can read correctly on the face of it but is wrong especially when simple words like ‘no’ are omitted which changes the context completely. Secretaries would generally not make these errors and would flag up sentences which were ambiguous or potentially confusing, computers don’t! Add to that that more often than not the voice recognition is done on remote servers rather than locally on your desktop and it’s a recipe for disaster when your corporate internet has outages or latency issues.

With regards to your experience , my own personally with any telephone banking/utility company usage has been dire, and I’m just left ranting at a machine! I then tend to use silence as a tool so that the machine says it doesn’t understand the response and transfers you to a human. Not even an option in your case by the sound of it.

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No option for human contact (even hidden) as best I would tell. Worse, many of the menu/process prompts were staccato in nature and some of the process flows simply stopped dead, requiring ‘back’ commands for no reason I could work out. And I had to enter account details with a PIN before the payment commands became accessible.

I ended up calling 2 x, having been summarily cut-off, seemingly up a dead-end menu choice the first time.

Any option to e-chat/email to resolve it? Snail mail?

I’ve had frustrations with Amazon having been unable to get a phone callback for many weeks - system says ‘you are connected’ but I never get a call. Spoke on a ‘chat interface’ and asked the overseas agent if they could kindly provide a UK telephone contact number, to which he replied he’d be delighted to email the information to me but it was just the generic Amazon ‘contact us’ page with no direct phone number to call.

There were other options (website) but these weren’t open to me at the time (non-Smart moby), an aspect in itself which is discriminatory IMV i.e. they flag the 'phone number to call as the primary mechanism. A website address was also given but there was no capacity to check whether I’d actually paid the subject bill on this…and there was no information supply about how long it would take to process the debit card payment I thought I’d authorised.

Curiously, post lodging my debit card details, I’ve had a debit card payment fraud on my account and now have a replacement card. I rarely give out debit card details over the 'phone and, of course, cannot be sure of what’s what here but the coincidence is playing on my mind.

What really aggravates here is to have my integrity questioned, with seemingly little/no recognition the VRS system concerned isn’t robust (IME). Other than 2 x call records on my moby, I have no other proof of what transpired.

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The increasing requirement for Smartphones is very discriminatory.

Waitrose’s new loyalty system relies on a Smartphone at the checkout to scan vouchers, which I find a faff so heaven knows how the very elderly handle it - unless they print vouchers (what a waste) they are being discriminated against.

I’ll admit Smartphone apps can be quicker for banking/credit cards but an app I’ve used for a few years without fault has not worked for over 3 weeks now telling me it cannot get account information as it suspect I’m not connected to the internet which is nonsense as everything else works. I’ve had multiple phone calls, customer service callbacks, advice to delete the app, reinstall, update to latest bug fix release, restart the phone but to no avail. Last time I rang them they suggested I raised it as a complaint, can’t honestly see it will expedite anything as there’s either a system/account issue or app bug - if this is something unique to my account it’ll likely get less attention than if it affects 50% of users. While I can still access the website to see my transactions I’ve simply stopped using the card as it’s harder to check via the smartphone. Their loss.

I have a mild speech impediment as a consequence of having a soft pallet that’s just shy of being cleft (basically, I talk through my nose) :laughing:

I find speech recognition systems a real challenge and endeavour to avoid any company that thinks effective customer service can be delivered through such a system.

One can only speculate how those who do not have English as a first language, have learning or other speech related difficulties or have strong regional accents get along.

A few years ago there was a Miranda Hart sketch in which she tried to re arrange a parcel delivery via VRS. Illustrated the frustrations exactly.

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Could be worse I suppose :smiley:

(No disrespect intended, and I hope that in no way comes across as making light of your speech issue however minor, especially if it causes any real life difficulties. You raise an excellent point in terms of accessibility and many institutions fail miserably. When my parents became housebound I came to realise just how poorly supported they were from banks etc especially when they would have had difficulty using smartphones, telephones or computers.)


I could name a few with that affliction! :wink: :laughing:

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I’ve been accused of that too.


Suspect we’ve all tried that alternative mode of communication from time to time! :joy:

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