New bot cuts the endless chat

Playing the national lottery is always a gamble, whether you buy a ticket at your nearest store, or have an internet account, as Clive Rosenberg of Sea Point discovered, almost to his cost.

“Before the lottery licence was awarded to Ithuba you could transfer funds to the lottery bank account, ISP Cash, to play online.

“Ithuba then changed their bank account and when I asked how I could access funds in the old account I was told that a company, Switchinghouse, would be dealing with refunds to all clients,” Mr Rosenberg said.

“Earlier this year I was told they had a computer problem that was being attended to. After another telephone conversation I emailed them proof of transfer of the funds, a copy of my ID and banking details.

“But there was no response, they also did not acknowledge my follow-up emails and I can’t get through to them on the telephone,” Mr Rosenberg said.

When he eventually managed to talk to someone at Ithuba they told him there has been a dispute with ISP Cash and Switchinghouse for a month.

“My R300 (that’s sitting in the internet account) is relatively modest but I have no doubt that with probably thousands of internet players there could well be several million rand involved.

“I believe the credit balances in the previous account should have been the direct responsibility of Ithuba who should have immediately credited it to the players.

“There has been no communication whatsoever to the internet players advising them of the situation. I hope you can find out what’s happening.”

Media specialist at Ithuba, Gopolang Peme, did some investigating and said the money had been transferred to Mr Rosenberg’s account on April 4 and sent a screengrab as proof.

However, Mr Peme didn’t answer the questions I asked him, among them: when is the Switchinghouse problem likely to be resolved? Who is responsible for the refunds? Have there been other complaints? And how many players have internet accounts with Ithuba?

Later, Mr Rosenberg said when he first asked Ithuba about his online account they told him that ISP Cash had been closed because of the change of management and that refunds of balances in the ISP account would be made by Switchinghouse which is why he sent them the documents, ID and bank account number they required.

“After I received the screengrab you sent from Mr Peme I noticed that the R300 was credited to my Lotto account which I had assumed was a transfer I had made.

“I apologise for raising this issue with you when I should probably have taken notice of the deposit to the Lotto account, but having been misinformed by Ithuba and Switchinghouse I was looking in the wrong direction. All the aggravation could have been avoided by a correct answer in the beginning. Thank you again for all the trouble you have taken,” Mr Rosenberg said.

New bot cuts 
the endless chat

A new chatbot, IMIChatBot, developed by Archer Digital, will help to cut the need for lengthy and endless conversations with call centre agents, according to Jennifer Venter, the company’s head of financial services.

The Cloud-based application will allow contact centres to offer their clients live two-way conversations via text or social media which can take place across SMS, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, internet and email from a desktop or mobile platforms.
“Chat-based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is a personalised support service,” said Ms Venter and added that worldwide there are more than 100 000 active chatbots online.

Archer Digital has been operating in South Africa since 2006 and is an active member of the country’s Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) and Direct Marketing Association.

Archer Digital’s messaging platforms capture every message sent or received by customers which enables them to “effectively interrogate response rates”.

Depending on the company chatbots are usually free and the companies would train the agents.
Public relations consultant, Ivan Booth of Cape Town, said he used his insurance company’s chat service to ask about his car excess.

“It was excellent! Lots of us work in coffee shops these days and it is great not having to phone an agent from a public place while working on our laptops,” he said.