No More Phone Robots: Spain Introduces New Bill
I remember, as a boy, I thought that robots were cool. One holiday season, my only and greatest desire for a gift was a robot toy. I read books about robots, played video games about robots, drew robots in my spiral notebook during class. Little did I know that as an adult, robots would be the greatest bane of my existence. I imagined a Jetsons-like robot maid, helping with chores, taking away the inanity of my day. The closest we’ve gotten to that is a vacuum that rams repeatedly into a couch leg. Instead, the robots I interact with on the most frequent basis are the ones that call me, non-stop, from my own area code.
These robots have no soul, no drive, no feeling, only a programmed determination to call me as many times as possible, every day. If I don’t pick up? That’s fine, they will leave a 43 second blank voicemail, and call back in an hour. They never tire. They never flinch. They only call. At this point, it has basically made the actual Phone app on most people’s phones unusable. I would delete it if I could. At one point I had hope that the FCC might actually do something to stop this, but I’m not sure the FCC actually exists anymore, or if they slumber like elder gods, only awoken when a titty shows up on primetime.
One country, at least, is starting to take on the phone robots from hell. Now, they’re not going as far as robocalls, but it’s a start: they are making customer service lines, especially utility companies, require a thinking, feeling, human customer service representative to be available. The bill will require any utility company, including phone and internet, to provide 24/7 customer service with a human representative available. In addition, any company with over 250 employees or who does business in excess of 50 million euros a year will be required to provide human customer service during working hours.
Imagine this world, where when your internet drops, the solution doesn’t include screaming your social security number into a speakerphone, frustration outweighing any fear of identity theft. It’s a drop in the bucket, and only in Spain, but I applaud them for at least beginning the process of culling robots from their phone lines.