I'm a bit lost on a website - they've been selling a particular bouquet of flowers for years and years and I'd like to reorder it. But it's not there! Maybe it's a pandemic thing, who knows. Still, at least there is a live chat function so I can ask this question. Live chat is a great way to get customer service, but unfortunately can be costly. Still, it looks like they’ve made the effort here.
Me: Hi there. I’m looking for a particular item <with sufficient description> that used to be on sale but I can't find it. Has it gone?
Ellie the Helper: Hi! Can I take your name please?
Sigh. It’s a bot isn't it? Can you imagine if this played out in an actual store.
Me: <repeats question>
Ellie the "Helper": Are you still there?
Ellie the Definitely Human Helper: Hi! Can I take your name please?
I hate bots. I see a lot of them as a user, and also see a lot of requests for them as someone whose job is on the web. They are seen as a nice, positive way of finding information on a website without the user having to find things. Or, to put it another way, without the site owner having to spend money on a decent user interface, information architecture, design, etc etc. Then they can cheap out on customer service too by making it look like there is a real human while trying to fool the user.
The technology does not work that well.
Ellie the Script Executing HelperBot: Hi Bob! Here is a close alternative! <link>
And I'm presented with a bouquet of flowers. On a flower delivery website. Literally the only thing in common with what I was looking for is "contains flowers". On a flower delivery website.
No attempt to answer the actual question, of course. Just "here is another thing you can buy". It's ok though - automation saved the day and provided another seamless bot experience!