Welcome to Verizon Live Chat: The Turing Test

So I have this very tall tree that died all of a sudden. It’s very sad. It so happens that our TV and telephone wires cross from the street to our house right next to this tree, and the tree-cutter-down-guy said I should call Verizon to see if they’d let them down from the street for a day, since he (the tree-cutter-down-guy) couldn’t undo them from the house because a peaked roof is in the way.

Well, Verizon is on strike – not Verizon itself, but the Communication Workers of America, the ones who do all the wire work. So I was afraid to call, since calling Verizon is a nightmare of menus and condescending computer voices and getting nowhere in the best of times.

I had a very nice Live Chat experience a few weeks ago, when, after several hours of searching for a 33″ tall dishwasher, which has become quite rare (something I don’t understand, unless people’s kitchen counters are suddenly levitating), a nice Sears Live Chat guy came on my screen and found me a dishwasher which I immediately bought. (Chip absolutely hates it, but that’s a story for another time.)

So I thought I’d try it out:

We’re only able to assist you with FIOS questions or technical support, says German, but this seems to me to be technical support. So far so good.

Well this is a bit irritating. I haven’t felt inconvenienced until now, but I really don’t want their valuable email, and I’d already given them my email address, but … I decide to play along while I wait for German to do whatever he’s doing.

Notice how much time has gone by since I started this chat at 11:45.

Here’s where I start to get confused. If I’m going to receive a call before the call, does that mean the long list of times are for the wires? Or does German really mean I’ll receive a call before the call?

Since German seems to have such difficulty understanding what I’m saying, I decide to try the Turing Test: “are you a person or a computer?”

It takes German nearly 10 minutes to figure out “he” is a real person.

Do I have any other questions? No, but if German is a real person there at Verizon, I have a little more sympathy for the CWA workers, even though I doubt they’re going to come take down my wires.

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