Friday, May 2, 2008

Phone Call of the Day

A few minutes ago, I was in the middle of a 2-person meeting at work, when the office phone rang, with no caller ID identified (which just means it came from an external location, I think).  Excusing myself, I answered the phone, to hear an automated voice.  (“Oy,” I thought.  “The telemarketers have tracked me to work!”)

No, it was a collect call from King County Jail!  They had a recording of the person’s name (someone male), garbled and unintelligible so I had no idea what the name actually was (although maybe if I knew the guy’s voice and name, I could have understood what was said), and then a request for me to accept the phone charges or not.

Two user experience issues with this:
  • No idea what the cost of accepting the call was
  • No way to replay the person’s name if I didn't catch it the first time around (and since I was a bit shocked to get a call from the Jail, I wasn’t listening all that closely)
So I looked at the phone for a few seconds, and hung up.   Then quickly called about the only person I could think of outside of work who would have and would call my work number, just to be sure he wasn’t in jail for some reason.   (He wasn’t.)

Hope it was (a) a wrong number rather than someone I know who was depending on me, and (b) the inmate isn’t limited to the stereotype single attempt to call someone and I blew it for him.   There hasn’t been a second call, so who knows?

Updated on January 21, 2010