Blog Archives

Tales from the Technology Trenches

I’m a big fan of electronic options. I choose ATMs over tellers and vote by mail to avoid all that nasty community at the polls. But really irritating tech is out there, and one of the strongest bastions was also the first – telephones. Herewith, two tales that both happened yesterday, one to me, one to my mom.

Notification from my smartphone:

In order to enable WIFI calling, you must provide your address for 911 calls. Please visit my.tmobile.com.

So I went to the site, where it asked me to log in. The user ID was my phone number, so I knew I had that right, but after trying all my usual passwords (and Angel Joe’s), I hit the Forgot your password? option. Bing! A new, temporary password appeared in my phone messages, and I carefully typed it in: UU4ZJ4.

Website: Password must be at least eight characters long.

At possibly the same time, my mom was trying to cancel her paid subscription to a newsletter that automatically renewed. The website insisted that she get on the phone. The automated phone system was clearly designed to be obstructive. First it hung up on her when she paused too long to pick one of the options, then it had difficulty recognizing her subscriber number, no matter how slowly and clearly she read it.

Automated system: Are you Jose Martinez?

Mom: No. (reads number again)

Automated system: Are you Erin Whitehall?

Mom: No!

Finally it took the number, only to shunt her into a menu cul de sac where none of the numbered options were useful.

Mom, boiling over with frustration: Fuck you!

Automated system: That is not an option.

How about you? Any recent run-ins with terrible tech?