I recently had to call United’s customer service department. They have one of those voice prompt systems where you can answer questions by speaking into the phone and have the system automatically guide you to the right answer/representative. The problem: The system sucks.

Every interaction I’ve ever had with these voice recognition services feels like a battle. The system misunderstands what I’m saying. Or it confirms each entry by repeating it snail slooooow: “You said 32530021303. Is that correct?” I wind up feeling like I’m navigating a maze. It inevitably leads to me shouting answers or pleading “operator” in the hopes it’ll take me to an actual human (it doesn’t).

And whenever I hear someone else dealing with one of these systems, the same thing happens. They start out talking calmly but eventually wind up yelling into the phone.

Needless to say, any service that forces customers to scream is a bad idea. Screaming is something that we do when we’re frustrated or angry. But now that’s what I think of: United customer service = screaming. I can’t imagine a worse association for a company to have.