A hefty late payment imposition put me on a wild goose chase.
Technology brings with it many conveniences but if you do not roll with its punches, you have set yourself up for a big-time disappointment not to mention the possibility of computer rage and headbanging.
Change is not only constant but is ever-present and accelerating. I will use banking as an example. The scenario now is that you don’t see people. You can’t hear them too. Everything is negotiated through the fingers, clicking numbers. Then an auto voice would ask you to leave a message, go online to their website to resolve your problems, or wait for a reply 10 days later which may or may not come.
It happened to my credit card which often goes into the penalty realm. Time just gets the better of me and I am on a daily treadmill. I get charged late interest and finance charge to the tune of almost US$130 even though my purchase may be US$30. It could just be a day late in paying credit card bills to trigger this charge and boy, is it difficult to resolve.
Used to be, with a call to the bank, you can listen to a series of options. Then you choose the option to speak to a live customer service office and you are definitely able to get your request attended to. Usually, they would waive the late interest and finance charge on request.
These days, no one shows up in the ‘flesh’. I called many times to hear the same messages; that I needed to put the waiver request through the call and it would take 10 days for approval. By then, it may trigger another late payment since this is for settling last month’s bill that is due.
Fortunately, my middle name is Persistence. I called again and found out the latest option of online chat services. Well, a few more hurdles to scale. You will be given an SMS link, then type in your security link. Then more typing is needed. What happens if you don’t have a smartphone?
The response on the phone appeared, “ Hi, I‘m your Digital assistant, How may I help you?” I wrote out my request but it replied, “ I am still learning and am unable to recognize your input. You may also chat with our representatives by selecting with us”
The following boxes were displayed; ‘recent transactions’, ‘card activation rewards’, ‘fee waiver’, etc.
I clicked on the ‘fee waiver’. After keying in the credit card number, it answered me the way it would if I had done it through the call; another 10 days for a reply to know if my waiver is successful!
In my frustration, I typed, “ Are you a robot? I am not solving my problems here!” Somehow, by a stroke of good luck, a chat came up, “ We will put you in touch with our customer assistance, please hold on”
Whew! A really live chat! I explained my predicament and lo and behold, she mentioned that she could waive it immediately! I was elated. For those who did not have the time or patience to press on, you would have caved in and paid the hefty charges.
I seized the opportunity to pose other questions; Why is the password still automatically displayed on the website when I log in? Why does one get logged out so fast when online, as some people are slower in typing? These are all pertinent questions but if you use the ‘click the box ‘ system, you can never pose specific questions because the answers are often canned and connected to the algorithm and database.
I would conclude that to deal with today’s technological changes which are meant to improve our lives, you certainly have to keep abreast of them and get involved with their new options. Or risk being left in the lurch.
Even if you are put off, do not fear nor frustrate yourself.
The steps below may help;
1 Keep asking questions. Even if you have to ask a robot. Even if you have to express your frustrations to an algorithm, you never know they may just respond differently. They may just channel you to somebody live at the end of the chat!
2 Simplify. Reduce the number of bank cards if you have one too many. Unfortunately, in today’s world, one cannot do away with the card as most things would eventually be online. Every bank has its specific rules and they change ever so often. Some banks do not even entertain fee waiver so the penalty is set.
3 Pay on time.
Render to Caesar that is Caesar’s. The bank lends you the money and so is your master. It gives you the conveniences of a cashless transaction and offers many rewards through the points system but don’t forget to pay up and on time!
It may not be known to some people but some banks have increased the late interest payment to as high as 29% these days. Paying minimum payment will still result in the outstanding amount of incurring the stipulated interest fees. There is also a finance charge along with it and I have paid as much as US$73 or more. So paying your bills on time negates the necessity to contact the bank to waive your charges which these days is not so easy task if you are not tech-savvy or pressed for time.
I resolve to enjoy technology by getting organized. As it changes its forms and its applications, I will take up the challenge to morph with it. The modern world is an exciting one.
I do not wish to be left behind and be at the mercy of someone else who may not have the time to teach me the ropes. Anyone can learn if you try hard enough. Technology need not frustrate anyone. If it does, you have only got yourself to blame for not getting interested in our brand new world.
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