The other day at work, where most of my ponderings happen, incidentally, I was faced with an interesting situation. We had a client’s check come up to check with our check guarantee system, and while most of the time the machine is just testing us, sometimes it’s really a problem. We didn’t believe anything was wrong, since she had been writing us multiple checks over the last few weeks. So my co-worker calls to get the correct information and she accidentally misinforms the robot at the end of the line – she gives the wrong driver’s license number for the client.
So I call back to talk to a human being, because obviously the robot doesn’t know the word “oops,” because it declined the check right away. It took me – literally – 25 minutes to get the information I needed. First I had to give the human being the exact same information I had just given the robot. And then it took me five minutes to get her to understand my problem. Yes, I had the correct information in front of me. And then she asks all these meaningless questions, like, “How many times did you provide the wrong information?” And “Are both people on the checking account present?” And “What color is your shirt?” (Not really but I felt that would have been just as pertinent as the questions she WAS asking me.)
So after she’s finally gathered all the correct information (I had to give it to her no less than 5 times), she put me on hold. And I was on hold. And I was on hold. And during this whole period the client is sitting in front of me telling me, “I know I have money in there. I just put it in there.” And of course I believed her because she’d just paid us several times the days previous! Finally the lady comes back just to tell me that she’s now on hold so I have to wait for her to be helped and then I’ll be helped.
When something occurred to me: with all the technology available to us in this day and age, is it actually getting HARDER to do the simplest things?
How long did it used to take you to order a hamburger? Two minutes? And now you have to wait for their computer to ring up your order, you have to wait for the screen in front of you to show the exact thing you just told them, and then you have to wait for the dude in front of you to finish his cell phone conversation before pulling around to get HIS hamburger. And at the bank? I went to deposit checks today and the lady had to run them all through this check reader and then when I said I wanted cash back she rolled her eyes and ran them all through again.
What gives? Isn’t technology supposed to make things easier? You can control your whole bank account online now but if you set it up to make an annual withdrawl from one account to the other, you can’t ever stop it. You have to call the bank and talk to 15 different people before getting your money to stop jumping accounts. And don’t even get me started on tech support – you want the town handyman to come over and fix your fridge? Or the cable guy to come and fix your TV? I will bet good money that they waste their time on the phone with some version of tech support.
To make a long story short from earlier, our client’s check was still declined, for the reason that insufficient information made it impossible to accept her check. (Which I still say came from the first time my co-worker accidentally gave the wrong license number). Which means that we have to have her go all the way to the ATM and take out $500 in cash from the very same account.
Technology, making things harder? Pay attention next time, and try to remember back to a few years ago. I argue that our impatience has actually created more waiting for ourselves, in the long run.