I am of two minds about technology.  As long as we keep the human factor in the equation then I am OK with it.  On line banking was something that took me a long time to try.  Now, I don’t know how to work without it.  It is strange day when I can’t get up in the morning, put on the coffee, then sit down in front of my computer and check the stock market and my stocks.  It has become a ritual.

If my dad could have done his investing online, instead of over the phone, and in person, he would have been even more successful than he was.  I truly wish that I had of been into investing while he was still around, and could have introduced him to the things we can do today.  I wish I could have learned from him, because he was darn good at investing.  Doing his own online trading would have blown him away.  He wouldn’t have had to phone, or drive and see his broker every time he wanted to do a trade, or just check pricing.

Showing someone the advantages of technology, and getting them to buy in is one thing, but when you try and force someone to accept technology whether they want it or not is wrong.  A lot of companies want everyone to switch to paperless billing and e-bills.  The companies say it saves them money on postage.  I have a suggestion for them.  Just but the bill in the envelop and forget all the sheets of paper full of advertising.  Then you’d save money too.

I ran into a situation the other day where a company had decided that I should be on e-billing.  Let me rephrase that.   The new upgraded computer decided.  They did not ask, or tell, me that they had changed the billing.  The company was Telus.  Now I have been with Telus since 2004.  And every month they send me a bill, and after I check out the charges (to see if they are correct) I pay it.  I check it because a human can make a mistake, but only a computer can make a huge mistake.  As was the case.

I was shoveling snow when my wife called me in a panic to say that the cell phones were not working, and when she had called Telus, (on someone else’s phone) Telus said we had been cut off for non payment.  That couldn’t be, because I clearly (mostly clearly) remember paying the last paper bill I got.  I checked the online banking and sure enough the last bill I paid was in October 2018.  How could I have missed that many bills??  So, I went through my files and there were no Telus bills since October.  I am not the greatest at checking my emails but I do check it every couple of days, so I would have known if they had sent an e-bill.  I would have called up and complained. 

Now comes the fun part.  The young lady on the other end of the phone said we could fix this if I could just verify that I was the account holder.  Sure, that should be easy.  She asked for my Drivers License number.  I gave it to her.  She said that was not what they had on file.  What???  I have had the same number since I was 16!!  Then it occurred to me, that we had started with Telus when we lived in British Columbia.  So I asked, is the number you have a B.C. number.  The answer was Yes.  The young lady asked if I remembered that number.  I can’t even remember my car license plate number, and you want me to remember a drivers license number, that I had for 6 months, 15 years ago.  Strike 1.

We tried another question.  What was my email address?  I gave her the one I have been using for the last 10 years.  No that was not the address they have on file.  Strike 2.

We tried another question.  What is the home address we have on file?  That should be easy, they have been sending me bills to this address for the last 3 years.  Guess what?  That was not the address they had on file.  Neither were the last 3 addresses before this one.  Strike 3! “Since I can not verify who you are, you will have to go to a Telus store to get your service back.”  I tried once more, what if I paid the bill in full, could I get the phones turned back on?  I was told that was not how the system worked.  I live by the saying “Never take a NO from someone who can not give you a YES.”  It was clear from the noise in the background and the accent this was a foreign call center.  The people there have to follow the rules.  So, no use getting angry at the young lady.  Believe me I was pretty angry.  I insisted that she put me through to a supervisor.  While we waited for the supervisor, my wife pointed out that every time we sign up for a new phone plan, we have to give all the info that they were asking about.  Why was the file information not current??  Good question.

The supervisor came on the line.  From the quality of the sound and his lack of accent we were finally at least back in Canada.  The supervisor asked a bunch of different questions, about a dozen.  None of the answers I gave were EXACTLY what he had on file.  After talking for about 15 minutes, he finally said, I think you have told me enough to feel that you are the customer.  Oh my god.  Finally!!  So, I said, if I pay the bill, can I get the phone service back???  “Yes.  I will authorize turning your phones back on.  Bill paid phones working.  He also updated our file with current information.

But before we hung up, I had some questions.  If all the information they had on file was from when I originally signed up in BC, how was it that I had been receiving mailed paper bills for the last 15 years to the right addresses??  Also, since we had to give current information each time we signed a new plan, why did they have only ancient information on file??  And lastly why had the paper bills stopped and where had the bills gone??  Answers:  The stores are supposed to update the info but if they get busy, they sometimes forget.  (They forgot every time for the last 15 years???)  Our information must have been right in some computer up until October 2018.  But they did do a machine upgrade recently.  As to where the bills went???  The upgraded computer had reverted to the original data from BC and sent e-bills to that email address most likely.

Like I said, it takes a computer to really screw up.  You can believe that I will be watching for my next months bill.  I also reset up my online account (nothing matched there either) so I can check up on the account if we don’t get a paper bill.

Isn’t technology wonderful??  In the end it took a real human being to solve the problem.  I wonder how it would have turned out if I had to deal with an Artificial Intelligence?