Worker Suspended for Using Robot Voice on Phone
But he says he was just trying to get rid of his Brooklyn accent
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2014 11:21 AM CDT
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It may sound pretty funny to answer customer-service calls at an IT help desk in a robot voice ... but Ronald Dillon didn't stop when his boss told him to, and now he's been suspended from his job at New York City's Health Department, without pay, for 20 days. The computer specialist spoke in a "deliberately robotic fashion" on at least five calls between February and April of last year, according to the disciplinary hearing; the judge heard one recording featuring Dillon talking to a customer in a "slow, monotone, and over-enunciated manner." At least one caller was fooled: The customer called back later, telling a Health Department worker that she "hung up when she heard 'the robot' answer the phone because she needed to speak to a human," says the judge's decision. (She also claimed the "automated system" hung up on her, according to the New York Post.)

Dillon, who has worked at the department since 1976 but was transferred to the help desk three years ago despite his objections, insisted he was simply reading from a script his boss gave him, and "articulat[ing] each word because he speaks fast and has a Brooklyn accent, which is sometimes difficult to understand," according to the decision. "They objected to the tone of my voice, so I made it atonal," he tells DNAinfo. But the judge found that he was a "disgruntled" employee and didn't like his new boss or new job, noting, "There is a difference between speaking slowly and distinctly and speaking so robotically that callers did not believe that they were speaking to a person." (This guy says Comcast got him fired from his job.)