15 August 2006

pollies whine about canberra cabs nonsensical voice recognition system

| bonfire
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Yesterday in the House, QLD ALP member Craig Emerson had a whinge about the voice recognition system Canberra Cabs has introduced.

Now that the elite are having problems and complaining, I wonder how soon before the option to talk to a human is introduced.

From Hansard:

Dr EMERSON (Rankin) (1.53 pm)—I wish to
share an experience that I and many others have had
with Canberra Cabs here in the ACT. It is now on a
voice activated service and the conversation with the
computer goes like this:
Welcome to Canberra Cabs. Please give the full address,
including street number, street and your suburb.
If you say ‘Parliament House’ it says:
Sorry—I cannot understand that.
So you say ‘House of Representatives, Parliament
House’ and it says:
Sorry—I cannot understand that.
You repeat ‘House of Representatives, Parliament
House’ and it says:
Is that 8 Parliament Square, Parkes?
You say ‘No’ and it says:
Do you know the address?
You say ‘Yes’ and it says:
Please tell me.
You say, ‘House of Representatives, Parliament
House’. It answers:
We have your address as 150 Sanders Place, McGregor. Is
this correct?
You say, ‘No.’ And so it goes on until it identifies
places such as 1,000 Riverband Rd Wallaroo. There is
no Wallaroo in the ACT. There is one in Western Australia,
one in South Australia and one in Queensland. I
hope not too many cabs have been dispatched to
Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. I
have had the experience of the voice-activated machine
hanging up on me, so that is a bit worrying. I have
complained in a letter to Canberra Cabs. They have
said that overall the implementation has been successful
and that they are in the process of entering 1,000
buildings into the system. I hope they get around to
entering Parliament House. If this were not so serious
it would be hilarious. Drivers are unhappy, but I am
most concerned for our elderly residents who will not
be able to use this system and who will find themselves
isolated, very often in a cold Canberra winter. This
outfit is operating like a monopolist. Lift your game,
Canberra Cabs, and stop operating and behaving like a

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I’ve heard the CEO of Canberra Cabs on the radio 3 or 4 times now and I’m completely underwhelmed by him. Everything is always somebody’s fault or problem but Canberra Cabs.

You can also just say “future” if you want to talk to a person.

It’s amazing that businesses will still get these IVR systems, when they know that they don’t work, customers hate them… what’s the point of a big fat ad campaign to make people love you when they will start hating you as soon as they try to use your bookings system?

Mind you, from what the QLD pollie says, you can see that he regards parliament house as the centre of the universe, and we all live in mud huts radiating out from it, probably praying to it and offering it sacrifices too.

“You can always call qbn cabs.”

True, bonfire, but it’s the same call centre you speak to, with the same rules, plus an average 30-40 min wait for a Qbn cab in the ACT.

3 things:

1) I love informed politicians! Wallaroo is just outside Hall, funnily enough on or near Wallaroo Rd.

2) If you say no to “Do you know your address?”, the next question is “Are you at a building?” and you get the option of saying your building name, instead of your ADDRESS.

3) Canberra Cabs/Aerial Transport are like a mule – too stubborn to admit a mistake when they know they have made it. (ie: we don’t give a flying f@*k what the customer wants, this is what they get).

oh, and if you press 0 on your keypad before answering Gimpboy, you may be pleasantly surprised.

To speak to a human at canberra cabs, you say ‘check’. Funnily enough i found this out by listening to the computer with the frog leg eating gimp accent, rather than yell at it at and smash my phone. Like I did once at 1am when i found out i couldn’t order pizza.

Like most IVR systems, there are ways to get redirected to a human. Funnily enough, some IVR systems will actually detect if you swear at them and put you straight through to an operator.

As for Canberra Cabs, you can bypass the IVR system using the keypad. I don’t want to draw too much attention to it in case the loophole gets closed, but let’s just say that they appear to use the same system as Aussie Home Loans 🙂

I had to call a cab on Friday night, and it asked me a question with a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, I was answering ‘No’, and i had to say ‘No’ more than 5 times before it understood what I was saying.
I work on a Service Desk, so Im used to talking in an articulate way that can be understood over the phone and I couldnt get it to understand a simple ‘No’ response, now how would anyone with an accent or with not that great English speaking skills go in booking a cab?
It really is amazing that it has the ability to hang up on you, but not to put you through to a person if you are having difficulties booking.

“I remember that I got into a shit fight with a night manager at canberra cabs because they refused to pick me up at the back of the phoenix, because they alleged that it was illegal to park there..”

Jesus, that is a joke – when have Taxi drivers ever been concerned about parking illegally???

Nice to see that whilst others were busy re-organising the deckchairs on the Tampa, Emerson had something important to say. Nice to see that he travelled all this way to ensure that we have a decent taxi service.

You can always call qbn cabs.

Absent Diane10:50 am 15 Aug 06

I remember that I got into a shit fight with a night manager at canberra cabs because they refused to pick me up at the back of the phoenix, because they alleged that it was illegal to park there.. despite the fact that no taxi had ever had any qualms dropping me off there. Now the issue was that I had a whole lot of music equipment to lug. This was when it was still vocie operated… they are a pack of useless idiots and deserve to die – sorry that was a bit over the top.

A monopoly operating and behaving like a monopoly! I wonder what the solution could be?

The bit about lifting their game definitely applies – my company won’t use them at all any more!

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