Customer Service Hotline

First published: 15th October 2010

A torture device used to punish people with problems, complainers and the undeserving.

A call to a Customer Service Hotline will begin with a recorded greeting saying, "Welcome to company name hotline", in three languages. The caller is then asked to select a language in three languages. There may be a recorded message telling the caller about new products or services, it will not be related to the purpose of the call. Then follows a series of recorded menus with increasingly confusing options. The caller may be asked to input an account number or sensitive personal data, such as their Hong Kong ID number or date of birth. If the caller is unsuccessful at navigating the menus, a recorded message will thank them and hang up.

If the caller successfully navigates the menus there will be a recorded message saying that all the lines are busy, followed by some music. The music might be quite pleasant, but, if it is, it will be interrupted at regular intervals with a voice repeating that the lines are busy. The message might be in a language the caller understands. Alternatively, the music might be mind-numbingly annoying, and remain lodged in the caller's brain for several days.

The call might end with a message saying, "All our lines are still busy, please try again later".

A lucky caller will be answered by a person. Regardless of the language chosen at the beginning of the call, the Customer Service Representative will speak Cantonese. The caller will be asked for the same account number and/or personal data entered earlier. At this stage, the caller will be incoherent, comatose or incandescent. The caller will explain the problem, the Representative will misunderstand, this may be repeated indefinitely. If the Representative finally understands, they will ask the caller to fix the problem, probably by doing things the caller has already tried, and possibly already told the Representative they have tried. The Representative will not:

Customer Service Hotlines are believed to be a major cause of suicides in Hong Kong.

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