Customer Service Can See Everything You Type (Everything)

It's a cornerstone of our human right to privacy: Nobody gets to see what's happening behind the bubble. Whether you're crafting a work text, a Tinder pick-up line, or just nailing that obscure Blackadder quote in your D&D WhatsApp group, your (awkwardly arranged, misspelled) words ought to remain your own private thoughts until you hit the send button. But as turns out, this is not the case when you're chatting with most customer support services. Because they can see all of your dirty, dirty drafts.

For anyone who has had the kind of blessed life that has never involved temping in customer service (the lost chapter in Dante's manuscript describing the circles of Hell), you may not realize all the tricks agents are forced to employ for efficiency's sake. But a recent development in big business being nosy bastards may change the way you talk to customer service forever.

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On Cyber Monday, Hmmdaily's Tom Socca noticed that a customer service agent had posted a full reply to one of his detailed questions one single second after he had hit "send." After doing some research, he found that out many big companies now employ chat software that allows for "real-time typing view" or "message sneak peek," a cute way of saying their agents are now in your window without your knowledge, peeping at you stroking your keys.

Hello, customer service. How may we creep you out today?PGBS/Wikimedia Commons "Hello, customer service. How may we creep you out today?"

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Of course, it's not like type stalking doesn't have benefits for the customers. Many people won't mind finishing up a customer service chat as efficiently as possible. But is it actually efficient? Socca also noted that the quick-draw answer he received was barely relevant to the question he wound up asking, likely because the agent, like a shitty human autocomplete, had written their reply based on their guesswork of what Socca would wind up "sending."

And if the system is so great and uncontroversial, why hide it? Why even still have a send button at all? Why give the customer the illusion that they decide what gets shared? If they have to disclose to customers that their calls are being recorded for training purposes, they could easily start off every chat with the disclaimer "Our agents can see you typing 'balls' in a long uninterrupted string after misspelling 'definitely' on your fourth attempt."

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So how do you regain your privacy when talking to a customer rep? Easy: Type messages in a note-taking app or a word processor, so that only you and whatever third parties the software sells your identity to will read it (which is the most intimate the internet will ever get). Or you can just put on a tinfoil hat, scribble it down on a piece of paper, and then type it with the furious alacrity of a conspiracy theorist who knows everyone is watching. Sure, it'll take longer, but you were already queuing 45 minutes to complain about your toaster's refund policy anyway, so what's another five if it will the soothe every bloating paranoia?

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