Welcome to the future, sorry the modern world, which is neither like the past nor indeed how things should be.
Overnight in the wee hours, for the fourth time in the last six or seven weeks, just as I was composing a long and detailed email on a complicated subject, my desktop computer suddenly decided – without any advance warning, signal, rhyme or reason – to shut itself down … and then restart again.
As a result, when it came back, it took me the best part of quarter of an hour of puzzled and puzzling trial & error trying to regain where I had got to in said important missive.
I could ‘restore’ the internet pages I had been on: somehow Google Chrome put up a box asking me if I’d like to do this because ‘it hadn’t shut down properly’ [a fact of which I was only too well aware – and anyway neither it, nor I, had been given the chance to shut it down properly, or at all, even should we had wished so to do!].
However, I could ‘regain’ no more than about a third of the email I had composing … and so virtually had to begin all over again.
Why does modern technology do these things and why does the poor, put-upon consumer have to accept them?!?
Quite separately – mid-afternoon yesterday as it happens, as I was right in the middle of finalising a series of important documents for circulation to the directors of a company board – a phone call came through on my smartphone.
Frustrated because I was part-way through a vital task, I flicked the ‘accept’ across and took the call which was coming via a number beginning 0344.
“Is that Mr Guy Danaway?” asked a lady’s heavily-accented voice.
I replied in the affirmative. She asked for confirmation of my address, which I gave.
I was then informed she was ringing to tell me about some coupon or voucher offer that I was about to receive from Marks & Spencer.
“Sorry, what did you say your name was, and from which organisation are you calling?”
The lady gave me a name and began repeating her patter about the fact she was shortly going to be sending a coupon or voucher thingy from Marks & Spencer.
Again I called a halt to proceedings.
“I’m sorry. The first thing I wish to register is that I very rarely shop at Marks & Spencer – in fact I cannot recall the last time I did. The second thing is that, if I wanted something from Marks & Spencer or indeed anyone else, I would have contacted them myself, not expect to be rung up out of the …”
My initial reaction was ‘good riddance’ (and why the hell do these idiots ring people out of nowhere to try and get them to take advantage of an offer, or whatever?) and I simply got on with what I was doing before I’d received the call.
Then later I got to thinking. Whether the lady who had rung me was an out-and-out scammer, someone genuinely from Marks & Spencer, or even someone genuinely trying to offer me something but not directly connected to Marks & Spencer, clearly – I speculated – as soon as she registered that gaining whatever it was she was after was potentially going to be an uphill task, she rang off.
Well, good for her. At least she could then go on and try to make a more fruitful call to someone else.
But suppose she really was from Marks & Spencer, or at least making a call from an organisation in some sort of partnership with them? If she was, why didn’t she say so and continue the call?
As it happens, I felt the great probability was that the lady was a scammer of some sort – maybe another couple of minutes into the conversation – had it begun and continued in a more positive manner – she’d have asked for my credit card details or something.
My closing thought today is why on earth in this day and age cannot the Government and all these wonderful British scientists and inventors come up with a system or device that can absolutely 100% block cold callers & scammers?
Even though most people I know have their ‘screening’ (junk call) settings turned up to max, they still seem to keep receiving up ten calls a week which are clearly scammer or junk callers.
Oh, hang on – I forgot. This is the 21st Century and – for all its technological wonders – it can rarely do simple, basic, common sense things with any degree of competence or success.
Bring back 1983, I say!