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Not everyone agreed with my point about not really wanting to talk to someone. Dale said, "Even the best machine systems fail". He gave an example of how Amazon took his order for a Christmas gift, promised a delivery date, and the gift has still not arrived". His bottom line was, "no dates, no numbers, no satisfaction – and no way to talk to a human". "Even the best sometimes need to engage in human conversation to maintain satisfaction". Charley agrees. He said that my story had missed the point. "When the organization that you are trying to do business with makes a mistake, then you must talk to a human, and one with authority". He says it is an an iron rule in human affairs that organizations do not admit they made a mistake until they are subject to severe duress.  "No voice response I have ever heard says ‘Press 1 if we made a mistake’ and very very few first level order takers or help desk personnel have in their scripts what to do in case of a mistake". Both Charley and Dale pointed out that problems are exacerbated when the organization you think you are dealing with has sub-contracted the actual work to another organization.
These are all good points but I am sticking to my thesis. Talking to a human is not what I want. I want systems and processes that work the way they are supposed to work. I believe that wanting to talk to someone is a response to the frustration that we feel when a system or a process has broken down. Another way to say it is that if I could wave a magic wand and have a company provide live telephone support with humans or make their systems and processes work properly (including integration with their sub-contractors), I would take the latter. I must admit I am quite surprised to learn of Amazon having a breakdown. This is the first I have heard of that happening. It sounds like a transportation snafu and I suspect that the recent airline difficulties are at the root of the problem. Not that this is an excuse. If Amazon guaranteed delivery they obviously relied on some discussions they had with their shipping provider, which I believe is more dependent on the USPS than in the past. One more time, if there was a choice of talking to someone or having Amazon provide a delivery tracking link with every shipment, I would take the latter.