Monday, 12 June, 2006

Automated chat?

I went looking for a new radiator this morning (the one in my truck has sprung a leak) and I ran into something new:  a Web-based automated response system.  It's made to look like you're chatting with a real person.  This was at www.radiator.com:

Chuck: What year is your S15?
You: 1996
Chuck: Do you know the engine size?
You: 2.2 litre L4
Chuck: OK. Would you prefer quotes on an OE Style or aftermarket radiator?

And so on.  It was pretty clear from the start that it was an automated system, especially when that last question appeared so quickly after I pressed Enter.

The funny (to me) part is that after playing twenty questions with the Web site, it asked for my phone number so that a "technician" could call me and make sure that I got the right radiator.  I got the call in a matter of minutes and the guy didn't even mention the automated system.  At least it wasn't quite as frustrating as trying to deal with one of those automated response systems over the phone.

Just for kicks, I thought I'd have a little fun with the system.  I started by telling it that I had a Ford F-series pickup:

Chuck: What year is your Fseries?
You: peanut butter and jelly
Chuck: Do you know the engine size?
You: swiss cheese
Chuck: That's no problem, I think we can at least get you a price without that information. Would you prefer quotes on an OE Style or aftermarket radiator?

Sometimes I don't understand how people apply technology.  I'm hungry.