ELIZA is alive and well and working for Comcast
"Let me welcome you with genuine assurance that I will be providing you quality Comcast customer service today. Before anything else, let me extend my apologies for any inconvenience this internet issue has caused you. Still doing fine, I suppose, David?"
The last bit echoed a standard phrase along the lines of "how are you doing today." It was irrelevant to the conversation (as such phrases in ordinary conversation often are) but appeared to be an automatic opening.
Somewhat more bizarrely, when I answered that I was fine but my internet connection was not, the response was:
"I am glad to know that you are doing fine, David"
That exchange was followed, typically, by some version of:
"I understand the importance of your internet service and I do apologize if you are having problems with it right now, David. Don't worry, I'll be glad to assist you with that. Rest assured that I will do my best to remedy the situation."
One variant included an assurance that the problem would be dealt with by the end of our session, which not only was not true but could not have been believed by the analyst, assuming she noticed that this was the third or fourth time I had tried to get the problem solved.
During a break in the conversation made necessary by something the analyst was doing, I was treated to a brief ad for some additional service Comcast offered, put as if it were a further part of the conversation. When I explained that I wasn't interested in access to television, not having or wanting a TV set, the response was:
" Oh I see. That's alright, David."
A little later the same analyst who had already offered apologies and assured me of quality concast service, responded to my description of the problem and my most recent exchange with a previous analyst with:
I apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you, David. I know how important it is to use your service as expected. I am willing to help you the best way I can.
When, in irritation, I told a later analyst that: "It would be better if Comcast analysts didn't spend time asking me how my day was, but instead just dealt with the problem."
The response was:
"I'm sorry to know that, David."
Shortly followed by the exchange:
"As I understand your concern, you are having issues with your internet connection, is that right?"David>Yes.
David> It would also help if analysts read what I wrote and responded to it, instead of following a canned routine.
(analyst) Thank you for confirming.
Shortly followed by:
"David, I understand your need to have your internet connection up and working as expected. I know very well how important it is nowadays to have an internet connection all the time. I can certainly relate to this concern."
I'm not sure that I should have been either surprised or displeased at the nature of the conversations. Automated responses, whether programmed in silicon or carbon, save the responder time and effort and are common enough in ordinary social exchanges. The fact that analysts claimed to have access to the record of my previous sessions but showed no evidence of having absorbed the relevant information was irritating, but again might represent a reasonable compromise on their end between the quality of the service they provided and the cost in time of providing it. And some fraction of what the analysts said was actually relevant to the conversation.
"Thank you for patiently waiting, David."