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Telecom hires robots, operators fired? 

Smash robots from doyouremember.co.ukThis is roughly how a conversation with the 123 operator, with a Russian name, went last Thursday evening.

—I’m Jack, and there are no in this booth at Johnston Street, .
—Call 018.
—But it would be handy to have these books, right?
—Call 018.
—You’re not very helpful, are you?


—Oh well, goodbye then.


   I would have expected, ‘Thank you for letting us know, but we don’t put phone books in there any more,’ or ‘We’ll take note of your call, thank you.’
   So the difference between a 123 operator and a robot is what? It must be pretty cheap to mount a tape recording where the only thing said is, ‘Call 018. Call 018. Call 018.’ Who even needs a robot?
   I know Russians say goodbye, too, when prompted. It’s not as though this was a cultural challenge even to an operator with a bug up his ass.
   I’m none the wiser. Phone books served a greater purpose than just being a directory of numbers. They helped us figure out addresses in case we had remembered wrongly, for instance. Someone hasn’t thought this through.
   And, in some cases, they are more reliable than human beings who can make mistakes.
   I’m not going to call 018 as the Telecom signage in the phone booth says this costs me—when I believe phone books, which the company provides free to most of us (that is, when it delivers them, and my neighbours have a few things to say about their non-appearance this year), have always offered that information for nought.
   I also do not know how the billing would work on the 018 service. I call using a Telstra calling card sometimes, so how would Telecom know what account to charge?
   Perhaps someone from Telecom would care to enlighten me about the absence of phone books and courtesy on the 123 service—and just what we are supposed to do when we need to double-check an address or number.
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... gah! And for deaf people wanting to double check a address or use yellow pages?? I hope they haven't removed them.  
Good point, Anonymous—here I was worried about me but you are right, the deaf community is huge (especially as I am hard of hearing in one ear, too).  
Robots need to be operated to work.People have minds that work independently. Oh my...  
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