Friday, August 24, 2007

Stupidity on the Phone

In a day and age when a tiny computer device, small enough to stick in your ear, can take voice commands such as "Call Mom" (using your cell phone to dial her number), it is amazing how backwards certain parts of the phone industry can be.

For example, I don't understand why the phone company insists on blaring a deafeningly loud error message into my sensitive, musician's ears, simply because I dialed a "1" and then the area code (even when it's a different area code from where I am calling from) because the number isn't long distance, or because I failed to dial a "1" (even when it's the same area acode as where I am calling from) because it is long distance. Am I a computer? Must I know exactly which numbers are and aren't long distance in this crazy, mixed up telephone system? If they have a computer that can decide whether or not to deafen you with an error message (based on whether you correctly chose to dial or not dial a "1"), couldn't that same computer also decide whether or not the number was long distance and simply make the connection? And must the phone company make such a loud noise directly into its customers ears?

We have reached an age when you can talk on the phone without holding anything in your hands and without trailing around a cord connected to a land line. We have lived to see days when you can store speed-dial numbers and call favorite people at the touch of two buttons. We have blue tooth devices and software sophisticated enough to recognize voice commands. We can take pictures, listen to music, send and receive text messages, play video games, and even surf the internet with our phones. But we can't get over the dilemma: "To dial 1 or not to dial 1." Here's an idea whose time has come: If the computer knows whether or not you should have dialed 1, why bother?

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