Not the world's best IVR system

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Just paid a traffic ticket (see here) via Santa Clara county's not very impressive IVR (amazingly, there is no Web system). Among the high-tech features:
  • Extreme amounts of clipping and distortion to the extent to which you can only understand about 3/4 of the prompts. It's strangely inconsistent—some of the prompts sound fine, but some are almost incomprehensible.
  • The interface for entering your citation number and your last name is pretty bad. Say your citation number is H01234. First it asks you if there are any letters. Then it asks you to key in the letter, then prompts you for each possible letter on the number key. Then it asks if there is another letter. If not, it asks you to key in any numbers there are. Then it asks if there are any letters. Repeat. I'm not sure this is actually the IVR's fault, but rather that they have to deal with tickets from a wide variety of jurisdictions. Still, there seem like a bunch of ways to make this better (standardize citation numbers, add a jurisdiction/format code so that the format is predictable, etc.)
  • After you've paid your fine, it gives you a (really long) receipt number and then asks you to press one to repeat, two to continue. If you press two, it asks you to key in your citation number. I assume you're done at this point and can hang up, but if not there may soon be a warrant out for my arrest.

Oh, there's also a $12.95 "convenience fee" for using this system to pay your fine by credit card.


You first complain about how hard the system is to use, then you complain about the $12.95. You haven't mentioned how long it took you to pay the fine, or more importantly how long it would have taken to drive to court and pay the fine there..

If you don't like the system, then feel free to drive in and pay it the old fashioned way

Why do organisations choose to use the orwellian phrase "convenience fee"? Also, why is it always so high? I had to get official birth certificates for my kids last year, and the Colorado Division of Records had a huge "convenience fee". The lobby of the building had an ATM, so I paid the $2 stupidity tax to withdraw from the white-label ATM rather than pay the Division of Records their "convenience fee".

Having worked on a large scale credit card processing systemm, I cannot imagine that even a $1 "convenience fee" would NOT turn a profit. Supposing a 2% interexchange rate, that's a $647.50 payment's interexchange fee.

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