The hilariously epic failure of Orange voice recognition

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 at 8:56 pm

I tried to activate a new Orange pre-paid SIM today by phone. It went a little bit like this (starting from trying to enter my flat number):

Orange robot: “Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “Five”
Orange robot: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t understand that. Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “FIVE”
Orange robot: “Is this correct? Flat eight…”
Me: “No”
Orange robot: “Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “Five”
Orange robot: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t understand that. Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “FIVE”
Orange robot: “Is this correct? Flat eight…”
Me: “No”
Orange robot: “Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “Five”
Orange robot: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t understand that. Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “FIVE”
Orange robot: “Is this correct? Flat eight…”
Me: “No”
Orange robot: “I’m sorry, I’m having problems understanding you. I’ll transfer you to an operator.”

Orange robot: “Sorry, you don’t have enough credit for this operation. Calls to operators are charged at 25p per minute”

(Click, hang up, try again… and yet again I stumble at the same point)

Orange robot: “Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “Fiiivvve”
Orange robot: “I’m sorry. I couldn’t understand that. Please say the number of your flat”
Me: “FFFIIIVVEEE”
Orange robot: “Is this correct? Flat eight…”
Me: “NO”

(Gives phone to partner, whom speaks better English than me it seems, the address is finally accepted.)

Orange robot: “OK, please say your last name”

(This concerns me. My last name is very simple — just “Offer”. Yet it’s surprising how often people get this wrong. In fact hardly ever do people get it right first off. But I reassure myself: my last name isn’t Muralitharan or anything too tongue-twisting)

Me: “Offer”
Orange robot: “Did you say, ‘Awful’?”
Me: (muffled hysteria)
Orange robot: “I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand that. Is your last name correct?”
Me: NO!
Orange robot: “OK, please say your last name”
Me: “OOFFEERRR”
Orange robot: “Did you say, ‘Arthur’?”

(Click, hang up and give up)

And this is why I think voice recognition is one of the worst forms of interaction ever — any experience that leaves me wondering if I’m in an episode of Fonejacker is not a good one.

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