(the movie, not the country!)

I had promised myself to avoid blogging or tweeting all the injustices inflicted upon my by heartless and stupid companies, no #FAIL proclamations. Oh well, time to bust my own promise.

But really, the communcination systems I find myself dealing with seem right out of the Ministry of Information.

Yesterday, I got a call from the Ministry of My Health Insurance, aka Humana:

“Hello”, says an automated woman’s voice, “This is RightSourceRX Prescription Services Department with important information for Alan Levine, Is this Alan?”

(This seems like a semi intelligent system, it uses voice recognition rather then button prompts)

“Yes” I say, slowly and clearly, directly into the iphone mic (previous experience shows she does not always hear.

“We have important information for you. Please call 866-xxx-xxxx and enter this message priority code 8492006”

Stop. You call me, ask it is me, tell me I have an important message, but I have to call another number to get it? Why dont you give me the message, Ms RightSourceRX?

But I continue on down the assembly line, and call the number. Rather than play out the hilarity that ensued, I recoded it (this was the second attempt since the first one ended with me yelling and screaming back at the drone–hmm just as this one ends).

Ms Humana asks me several time to confirm the code I entered, and no matter how many yes, yes YES YES I say, she is stumped (in a last ditch effort, I press the number 1, and that works.) (warning, loud f-bombs coming) (sorry mom for f-bombing,, don’t listen)

Me Yelling at Computer Phone Lady

In the end, after this whole double phone call charade, the important information was a reminder to refill a prescription. A freaking reminder. Something that could have been done in an email message.

And don’t get me started with so called “emails” from insurance companies and banks. Their idea of email is far from what we use on a regular basis.

Another insurance company sends me information this way- I get a normal email letting me know I have a message .I then log into their site, find theier web-based messaging interface, click a link to read a message, and it downloads a PDF…. and the message is basically, “We got your request, and will notify you when it is ready.”

Such things as this have actually come out of some twisted design process, supposedly field tested for usability- say it ain’t so.

Yes, in a few ways, we live in Brazil.

SAy, does anyone have a 27B-6?”¬”

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Sorry to hear you had such a bad time of it – but I would like to hold out some hope for you.

    My ISP had to contact me recently about an unpaid bill (I was sick and forgot it, ah well). I got talked through the process, the person (yes a real person) asked if she could send some emails about their online billing system. I said yes… she checked the email, sent the emails. I followed them today, registered for the account, got a confirmation email.

    The emails were clear, short, and the links (well the ones I tried) worked nicely. Being my ISP they checked if I would like to use the email address they provide me as my default email, and didn’t bat an eyelid when I said no.

    I paid the next chunk of the bill… got a short, clear email confirmation of that too.

    Some places are getting it right, thankfully. Hope your insurance company catch up soon though.

  2. Alan, seriously, I won’t tell you how hard I laughed listening to your MrsRightSource recording because that would be cruel of me to laugh at someone else’s pain.
    But the truth is that I laughed so hard, first, because I am so relieved that I’m not the only one who has these inane conversations with computers that were surely designed by Wiley coyote or ACME, or someone who hates humans.
    I also laughed heartily (with sympathy, I promise) because I have also been contemplating, I mean, just today contemplating using ‘Brazil’ for my animated GIF for ds106, so it kinda makes me totally get your point, all the more.
    The sad, sick thing about Brazil is that is too realistic in its absurdity!
    So, in summary- thanks for sharing…oh, p.s. don’t forget – you have a refill.

  3. I thought it was clear to everyone that we live in Brazil. This is why I use dystopian books and movies in place of documentaries when discussing technology and society. This is Brazil in 1984 and the soylent green is made of genetically modified people. Run, runner!

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