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two rants about technology


I have two complaints about my day, both of which involve media technologies.

First, I’d like to officially put the fax machine on-notice: somebody needs to put it out of its misery. Who in the world has a fax machine? What does it possibly offer that the internet doesn’t best? Also, Marriott. Those guys are part of the problem too. The story of my ire: Last weekend I attended a wedding. Today, via email, the hotel sent me the record of my bill. Naturally, they charged me for a $4 bottle of water I didn’t drink (+tax!). They also managed to put the room charges on the wrong credit card. No problem right – I can send an email back and they can switch the charges to the other credit card I gave them. Isn’t it nice to live in a digital world? I don’t even have to talk to anyone anymore! Right? Wrong. No, instead, I was sent a form that I need to complete, sign, and FAX back to them.

  1. If they have both of my CC’s on file (and they do – they charged the water to the right card), can’t they just move the charge with my email authorization?
  2. If they need paperwork, can’t I just sign/scan/attach the form?
  3. Worst case, can’t I do this over the phone – aren’t millions of transactions with CC’s completed over the phone every day?

The answer to all of these questions is, of course, NO. Why, why, why? Faxes waste paper, deliver inferior quality, and require additional equipment – shouldn’t these reasons be enough to discourage businesses from using them? And, oh yeah, they’re really, really inconvenient for customers. So, hows about it? Can we join the 21st century, Marriott, and drop the fax?

While I’m complaining, I should also mention that the internet isn’t all peaches and cream either. In the process of upgrading my internet, Verizon managed to increase my speed (yay) without sending a new modem. So, the old modem is freakin’ out, melting down left and right with the BLAZING speed of (mediocre) DSL. Bad internet, whatever – not my point. Predictably, my calls for support have all been outsourced to India. Though I had a very pleasant 15 minute chat with one of my support agents (Me: where are you? Him: I can’t say were, but it starts with a ‘new’ and its in Inndiaaa!) about Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi and several other sites, I kept having a recurring problem: there was static on the line and it was cutting in and out. This was replicated again today when I called back – though I never, ever have this problem with any other calls. So, what’s amazing? My phone calls to the PHONE COMPANY are being interrupted by a bad connection. With the phone company. On their end. In fact, it kinda sounded like Verizon was routing their calls through Skype (they were probably using IP telephony)… No real epiphany here. I guess the closest I can come is to say: I want some real competition in the world. Why am I buying internet from a phone company? It’s pretty clear that they can’t do it right. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the US allowed an internet company to lay wires or use spectrum to sell internet? Oh well…

There are 4 Comments to "two rants about technology"

  • Heidii says:

    Yeah, they sure can screw you over, can’t they? Technology is a necessary evil, but it seems like keeping up with technology’s advancements is even an even more diabolical fact of life.

    Hey–on the side for a moment–your photography is fabulous! Are those all mobile shots? I’ve gotten really interested in photography lately, and I’m just starting to embark on the wide world of it all and how cool it is.

    • lee says:

      You know, if I have to keep up with technology’s advance, so should my friendly corporate partners. Right??

      Yeah – all the pictures are just snaps from my iPhone. I’ve got the site set up so that I can take a picture with my phone, send it to flickr, and then the site automatically pulls a random subset (of 16) from my photostream. Pretty neat-o! I’d noticed that you’d gotten some fancy photogear – my pictures can’t compare to that, but it’s fun to have something work so sleekly…

  • Deeno says:

    If you think telephone monopolies have branched out too far now, just wait. Verizon already has FiOS digital cable. I’m not sure if it’s been addressed in the last couple of years, but there were extensive loopholes in the language regarding how cable companies were regulated – specifically, how they were defined. Cable coming in over telephonic cables/wires/etc wouldn’t have been subject to the same regulations. Anyways, since we all want technological symmetry and integration, I think it’s safe to expect that you’re either going to get your internet and cable from a phone company or your cable and phone from an internet company, all packaged together in One Big Box.

  • Tom says:

    The FAX Machine is a great security tool for your credit card purchases. We have our customers send us their authorizations to use their credit cards via FAX, because it is harder to hack a fax than to hack an email. Securied Web Sites, come on, how many people have access to your credit card for on-line purchases. The airlines capture your IP address when you make a purchase. What else is captured on-line….the convenience of the internet is also your security’s downfall.

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