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A Pet Peeve [Jul. 2nd, 2010|09:53 am]
Here is a commonplace phrase that I hate: "Your call will be answered in the order in which it was received."


It is one call. It can't have an ordering.

Sets of things can be ordered, but individual elements of the set cannot.

What the Automated Void Ladies should say is "Calls are answered in the order in which they are received."

Or perhaps they should simply say, "Your call is in the queue to be answered; hanging up and calling back will not save you any time. So just wait, please."

[User Picture]From: navrins
2010-07-02 04:00 pm (UTC)

Also, "Your call is important to us." No, it isn't. If it was important to you, you'd have answered it.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2010-07-02 04:11 pm (UTC)
I have to take exception to that one. There are calls I get that are important to me but which my answering machine picks up. Admittedly, the dynamics are different for corporations, but still, there's a zone in between "Not important" and "Important enough to be worth ensuring a response time of zero for."

Well, OK, I don't have to. But I choose to.
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[User Picture]From: navrins
2010-07-02 04:35 pm (UTC)
There's also a zone in between "ensuring a response time of zero" and "shunting me off to a hold system that tries to placate me by mechanically assuring me my call is important to somebody." The latter pretty much assures me my call isn't actually considered important. The more often it mechanically repeats the platitude, the less important I feel I am considered.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2010-07-02 04:43 pm (UTC)
Huh. So it isn't the having to wait that is incompatible with the call being important, it's the having the recorded message saying that the call is important that is?

OK, fair enough.
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[User Picture]From: navrins
2010-07-02 04:54 pm (UTC)
Well, somewhere in between, I think. I mean, sure, I'd rather have my call attended to immediately, but I do understand that's not always possible and it doesn't mean you don't want to. It's the way that's handled that matters. Some hold systems say, "I am a machine and you are a part and you will wait your turn to be processed by the machine and resistance is fu-- *staticky music interrupted by--* Oh, and by the way, we will take advantage of our own inefficiency to advertise to you! How about th-- Y'know, you really should have gone to the website inste-- Your call is important to us..." Yeah, right. While others say, "We're really sorry to have to make you wait. It'll probably be about ten minutes. If you haven't got time to wait, you could leave a message or send us email, here's how. Now we'll shut up and let you concentrate on something else until we can help you." That makes me feel rather more cared about, even if the actual delay is the same.

Of course, I've digressed from dr_t's grammar rant to a courtesy rant, which was perhaps unwarranted.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2010-07-02 05:01 pm (UTC)
(nods) Agreed that the latter is a lot better. Even better is to tack "Or press 6 to leave a message and we'll get back to you." onto that.

I like the idea of a "courtesy rant."
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[User Picture]From: zombietruckstop
2010-07-02 05:16 pm (UTC)
I respectfully submit I think you're wrong with this one.

If sets of things can be ordered, then each individual piece has a position in that order. And if you wanted to pick up the pieces in a certain order - say, you want to pick them up from the first one that was placed in a line to the last one that was placed - and someone asked you, "when are you going to pick up THAT one," a perfectly acceptable answer would be, "I'm going to pick that one up in the order in which it was placed in the line."
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2010-07-02 06:50 pm (UTC)
I think "in the order it was received" is a clear answer, and it certainly wouldn't bother me to hear it in spoken dialogue, but I also think it's not strictly grammatical Proper English™. If you wanted to be all anal-retentive and persnickety about it*, you'd have to say something like "I'm going to pick it up according to its position in line," or "when it reaches the front of the line."

*Which, okay, yes, I am being, perhaps unreasonably so. (I just want the Automated Voice Ladies to be correct so they won't be embarrassed when they meet an Automated Voice Gentleman. Is that so wrong?!?)

But we can respectfully disagree about it; I know it's ultimately not a big deal. It's only when I hear it repeated EVERY FIFTEEN SECONDS that I get peevish about it...
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[User Picture]From: bear_left
2010-07-03 04:07 pm (UTC)
Can we reasonably hope that at least some Automated Voice Ladies "Seek Same"? ;)
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[User Picture]From: pink_halen
2010-07-02 06:09 pm (UTC)
People who record answering machine messages and people who understand English are mutually exclusive sets.
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