...would be severe restrictions on what computers are allowed to do.
I'm not talking about home computers, but the ones that increasingly dominate business and government affairs.
This morning, I received an email (computer-generated) from my bank, informing me that a computer had decided to put a "hold" on money I deposited last Saturday.
As you might expect, this did not fill me with joy, particularly considering that I had already written checks on a good chunk of said deposit.
So I first b*gg*r*d around with the bank's online "service." When that got me nowhere, I went the "24-hour helpline" route. Equally frustrating, from the moment I had to declare my interest in getting instructions in English -- as opposed to Jorge Bush's favored language -- to the point when I simply slammed down the receiver in disgust.
In desperation, I went to the bank's nearest physical location which, thanks to the creeping spread of "automated banking" and a mad desire to maximize executive bonuses by canning employees, is some distance away. I passed two former locations while driving there; one is being converted to "loft" apartments, while the other is home to a rival bank.
I was not in a lovely mood when I got there. However, a nice lady listened to my story, checked things out (using her computer, of course) and released the money on the spot, explaining that a computer -- of course -- makes such decisions based on a flimsy set of assumptions.
She also discovered that I have been overcharged fee-wise since, well, forever. Which is to say since my current bank bought out my former bank back in 1990 and conned me into signing up for a deluxe service I didn't really want or need. She remedied that swiftly, determined that she could refund some of the charges, and popped them into a brand-new savings account for me.
She didn't know how angry I was -- at times of great stress, I become very polite, which only a few people have ever seen -- but the anger faded swiftly anyway. Dealing with a human who can (and is willing to) make decisions rather than a computer saw to that.
I still don't like my bank though, sadly, it is probably no worse than any other.
But I like her. At least I know where to go when, inevitably, the computers try to take a bite out of me again.
We had a pleasant chat while she was straightening things out; once she determined what I do for a living, she asked the kind of questions most people pay $4.95* to get answered; it was well worth it for me to answer. I didn't even feel, as I did after trying the "modern" methods of problem-solving, that I had just seen an hour of my life poured into the sewer.
* -- the cover price of most magazines I write for.
2 days ago