New phones are a bit of a Brum do
Birmingham Council's new £11m automated phone system has one fatal flaw - it can't understand a Brummie accent
Hundreds of people trying to contact the council's rent-arrears department have complained it is impossible to get through
The system features computerised speech-recognition technology, reports the Daily Telegraph.
But whenever locals call, the recorded voice of a woman with a Geordie accent says: "I can't understand that, could you please repeat it?"
Residents are now calling on the council to scrap the system so they can deal with human operators again.
Labour councillor Mike Leddy tried to ring the number on behalf of a resident. After nearly half an hour, he was forced to give up.
He said: "I am a proud Brummie and most people understand me when I talk to them. It just didn't recognise my voice.
"Finally, I gave up and rang the strategic director to sort it out. It's ridiculous that a five-minute phone call should take half an hour."
Council deputy leader Ian Ward admitted: "Our performance is a long way short of where it should be."