Monday, December 31, 2007

Technology: Beast or Blessing?

Many years ago, when I rolled my eyes every time my techno-wizard husband tried to tell me about the Internet, he assured me if I ever gave it a chance, I'd love it. He was right; of course, I didn't embrace the beast until we got past the dial-up modem stage--patience not being one of my sterling attributes--but, these days, give me a reliable server and a swift connection, and I can waste...er, invest...many happy hours taking advantage of technology's bounty.

By the same token, few things now make me more irate than technology used badly--or abused. I personally think spammers should have their fingers ripped off at the roots, telemarketers and politicians that use robots and recordings to call people should get their ears filled with brain-bursting strains of something (a la Slim Whitman in Mars Attacks) after the first ring, and websites with no contact information for the owner should be fined. However, the source of my ire on this last day of 2007 is neither spammer nor telemarketer, merely another company--and, oh, their numbers are legion!--who has managed to turn technology into an abyss of sanity-stretching, blood-pressure-rocketing frustration rather than the convenience it was meant to be.

I needed to reorder checks last week. Tried to do so at my local branch and was told they'd be happy to call in the order but couldn't make any changes. I needed to make changes so I said fine, I'll order online.

Tried to order online, but couldn't find an option for changing my information OR the style of checks I wanted (The carbon copy version of checks they sent last time is a complete waste of time, space, and money because no matter how hard I write, it's never enough to make it show up on the carbon copy.) Finally gave up after fifteen minutes and called the 800 number offered as the "fast, easy way to reorder your checks!"

LIARS! After the usual ten-minute runaround of trying to reach a human (Robot: "We're sorry. That number is not a valid option. Please listen to our menu again." Me, after entering every option possible, multiple times: "NO!! I DO NOT WANT TO LISTEN TO YOUR OPTIONS AGAIN!! I WANT AN OPERATOR! A CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE! A HUMAN BEING! ANYTHING THAT BREATHS OXYGEN AND UNDERSTANDS ENGLISH!!!"), a young woman finally answered and, after listening to my plight, sighed indulgently and informed me that they were not allowed to change any information over the phone, but that my local bank would be happy to do that. "NO, THEY WON'T!" I screamed in a totally unSouthern manner. "THAT'S WHY I'M CALLING YOU!!! AND YOUR STUPID WEBSITE DOESN'T WORK, EITHER! YOU PEOPLE SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED TO OPERATE COMPUTERS!!" And then, remembering from whence I come, I added, "THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR HELP!" (Yes, I know the sarcasm negated the politeness, but good Southern girls always thank people for service--even bad service. It's a rule.)

This morning, I put my reorder slip in the drive-through drawer, with my address crossed out and corrected and the phrase "NO DUPLICATES!!!" emblazoned across the top. "I wasn't able to do this online or by phone," I informed the bank teller, with a look that said, "Don't even THINK about questioning me on this!"

And as the teller removed the slip from the drawer, she nodded and smiled and gave me a look that said, "Poor woman, some people just don't know how to handle technology."

Wishing you a new year rife with blessings and laughter--and devoid of frustration and idiots!