Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Big Brother

I love calling the government. I had to make sure my name was on the electoral district list as I was living in a different one in the last federal election. It was quite the adventure.

First, I called Elections Canada and I was greeted by a wonderful IVR (Interactive Voice Recognition) system. Don't get me wrong, I have worked with those systems for years and I have no problem using it as they are usually faster when it comes to basic operations or information requests. The problem with that one was that it actually didn't recognize my voice. Now, I do have the pretention to think I speak decently well in both french and english, but the IVR system made me doubt myself.

After many attempts that would invariably send me back to the main menu after every swear word, I was told by the IVR that I needed to call my local office. After trying to get a local phone number with the directory assistance (They said they usually get a number during an election, but not this year...), I called back my new friend, IVee, and finally got to speak to an agent that recognized that they had a lot of comments on the limitations, to be polite, of their IVR system. He also understood every word I said, which is pretty cool! But he told me I didn't call the right place as I had to call my local elections office.

Back to step one. "Wait, do you have the number?"

"Sure, what's your postal code."

I gave him my postal code, he gave me a number. I called that number.

Wrong number. "This is the office for the Hochelaga district, your postal code tells me you are in Rosemont-Petite Patrie."

"Yep, I knew that, do you have the number?"

"No, sorry."

Calling IVee back. "For French..."



"Elector's card"

"If you..."


Speaking to a human being again, I explain that I need the number for Rosemont-Petite Patrie.

"What's your postal code"

I gave him my postal code.

"Oh, well, we don't have any listings, that's probably why you were referred to the wrong number before."

"You refer people to wrong numbers when you don't find them?"

"Well, not really, it was probably an educated guess..."

"Educated, eh?"

Then, he gave me a number. I called that number.

"Hi, I want to make sure I'm on the list."

"Were you on the list in the previous election?"

"Yes, in a different district."

"Well, you'll have to show up at our office to make the changes, we can't do them by phone."

"I guess I can do that on election day?"

"Yes, but I hope not everybody will do that, could be long"

"Oh well, with the participation rate, shouldn't be too much of an issue..."

Then, I had to call a provincial medicine insurance plan for some athlete's foot medication reimbursement, as I'm currently eligible, being unemployed (but not on unemployment benefits, I want to add). Here's another IVR:

"Please know the exact date when you became eligible for our plan"

I hung up...enough shit for a day.

P.S.: Bonne fĂȘte StĂ©phane!

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