Date Published: 23-Mar-2011
There are few more infuriating consequences of modern technology than the automated phone service, when you ring a number looking to talk to someone and you find yourself having to go through more numbers than a Minister for Finance before you finally give up anyway in utter exasperation.
But the VHI, God bless them, have taken this automated phone service notion to a whole new level – because now they use a robot to ring you.
So your phone rings and you pick it up and say hello, to be greeted seconds later by the female automaton who moonlights as the monotone voice on the sat nav, utterly devoid of any emotion or excitement as she launches into her sales pitch.
“This is an automated call from VHI Healthcare,” she drones.
“We have a wide range of something or other – would you like to be put through to…..” presumably, a human being to discuss your health care options.
Having recovered from the skipped heartbeat of infuriation that the VHI should ring me, a human customer, and not had the manners to put a human being on the end to make the call, I hung up before I had a stroke and had to take my chances with MRSA and the spring version of the winter vomiting bug in my local friendly, underperforming hospital.
Bu had I stayed on the line to talk to the VHI’s R2-D2, I probably could have enjoyed several minutes of one-sided interaction with a computer while the health insurance heads worked out how best to ensure consultants’ earnings are maximised from their private practices.
“Press one to skip the trolleys in A&E,” my inanimate friend might have said; “press two if you want to have your hips replaced before your legs fall off; press three for cataract surgery if you can still see three on the phone.”
“Press the hash key if you’d like to come in for a routine examination and pretend that you stayed overnight so that your consultant can lease out your bed to four different patients for four different overnight procedures all on the same date.
“You can talk to our remaining member of staff at any stage during this process by pressing in the correct order the numerical sequence that explains Archimedes’ quadrature of the parabola – and be prepared to wait, because we’ve cut back on real staff so that consultants can still make ends meet on those quarter of a million euro a year contracts.”
The sad side-effect of computerisation and technology is that you no longer have to talk to anyone to get your business done – and the VHI has taken it on to a higher level by not only offering an automated reception when you ring, but also a computerised cold-caller when you might otherwise be busy at work.
You can now bank online, pay your road tax, bin charges and television licence by computer, book holidays and hotel stays without every even darkening the door of a human being; you can travel by train, plane or automobile by booking on the internet, and you can do your shopping at your local supermarket without leaving the comfort of the couch.
Sometimes this is a good thing – you might not want to talk to some bored or frustrated bank teller or insurance salesperson – but most of the time, a little human interaction is no bad thing.
Sometimes a country comes up with a very clever idea – like the Danes who have come up with a very clever way of using your mobile phone when you’re stuck for a stamp.
From April 1, letter-writing Danes will be able to send a text message to pay the postage on a letter when the new Mobile Postage Service does away with stamps for standard sized letters.
Instead, people will send a text to the post office and get back a code they write on the envelope.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
Galway ‘Park and Ride’ could become permanent
Date Published: 07-May-2013
A park ‘n’ ride scheme from Carnmore into Galway city could become a permanent service if there is public demand.
That’s according to the Chief Executive of Galway Chamber of Commerce, Michael Coyle.
The pilot scheme will begin at 7.20 next Monday morning, May 13th.
Motorists will be able to park cars at the airport carpark in Carnmore and avail of a bus transfer to Forster Street in the city.
Buses will depart every 20 minutes at peak times and every 30 minutes at offpeak times throughout the day, at a cost of 2 euro per journey.
Tuam awaits UK hay import as overnight rainfall adds to fodder crisis
Date Published: 09-May-2013
Tuam is now awaiting a third import of hay from the UK as overnight rainfall has increased pressure on farmers struggling to source fodder.
A total of ten loads are expected at Connacht Gold stores throughout the West with a load expected at the Airglooney outlet this evening or tomorrow.
Farmers throughout the county have been struggling to cope with the animal feed shortage and a below than normal grass growth due to unseasonal weather conditions.
Overnight rainfall in the Galway area has also added to the problem making ground conditions in many areas are quite poor.
Joe Waldron, Agricultual Advisor with Connacht Gold says farmers in short supply can contact the Airglooney outlet on 093 – 24101.
Transport Minister urges end to Bus Eireann strike action
Date Published: 12-May-2013
The Transport Minister is urging drivers at Bus Éireann to engage in talks with management, in an effort to bring their strike action to an end.
There were no Bus Éireann services operating out of Galway today as a result of nationwide strike action by staff affiliated with the national bus and rail union.
Up to 20 Bus Éireann drivers are continuing to picket outside the bus depot at the docks in the city this evening.
Drivers from other unions have decided not to cross the picket line and go into work today – causing the disruption to be even worse.
Bus drivers are protesting against five million euro worth of cuts to their overtime and premium pay – cuts which Bus Eireann says are vital to ensure the future viability of the company.
The majority of services nationwide are disrupted, and the union say strike action will continue until management are willing to go back into negotiations.
However, it’s not expected to affect school services next week.
Galway bay fm news understands that around 70 percent, or over 100 Galway bus Eireann drivers are affiliated with the NBRU.