A great irony of Twitter, Inc. struck me today as I tried unsuccessfully to reach the company for comment on a story. While millions of people can talk to each other using Twitter's platform, it is exceedingly difficult to talk to Twitter.
The story I'm working on has nothing to do with the mid-Market payroll tax exclusion zone -- but it does concern Twitter. The company does not publish any phone numbers on its website. So, using an online media inquiry form, I sent Twitter a message seeking comment. Here's the automatically generated response I received almost immediately, from something called "Zendesk Admin 01":
Thanks for your inquiry. We are a small communications team based in San Francisco within a growing global company. Due to the high volume of requests we receive, unfortunately, we are not able to respond to many inquiries. When our team grows, we'll be able to respond in a more timely manner. For now, we will capture your contact information so that we can be in touch in the future.
In the meantime, follow @Twitter for news, interesting user stories, and updated stats about the company. Note that we currently only release global metrics and do not break out usage data on a country-by-country basis.
So my inquiry wasn't important enough to warrant a response -- but not to worry, they are going to "capture" my contact information. OK.
Undeterred, I set out looking for a phone number. Sometimes, if you type the address of an organization into a search engine, the phone number will pop up. Sure enough, a Google search yielded this: 415-778-6470.
A pre-recorded message thanked me for calling Twitter after several rings. I was then given the option of pressing 1, 2, or 3.
If I was a law enforcement officer and wanted to leave a message, 1.
For communications, 2.
For staffing, 3.
I pressed 2, and a robotic voice informed me that the voice mailbox was full. So I hung up and called back.
I listened to the three choices again. Then I heard this message: "If you know your party's extension, please dial it now. To hear these choices again, press star."
I pressed star. "If you know your party's extension, please dial it now. To hear these choices again, press star."
A loop! Groan.
I punched in "111" at random to see what would happen, and got another robotic message about the voice mailbox being full.
Guardian City Editor Steve Jones did manage to communicate, via email, with Twitter's CFO Ali Rowghani when he was writing about the payroll tax-exclusion zone -- but one of his email requests was completely ignored, and the only way he knew who to contact in the first place was by sifting through hundreds of pages of documents gathered through a public-records request.
Twitter has in its possession data associated with millions of users. It will benefit from legislation crafted specifically to keep the company headquarters within San Francisco city limits. Yet it seems next to impossible to talk to a representative of this company on the phone.
Why does Twitter have such poor communication skills? Let's Tweet about it.