Sunday, November 12, 2006

Modern Gizmos and Call Centers

As I get older, I find that the so-called time-saving devices make life more difficult. A little while back, I found a cheap $60 VCR. I thought it would be nice if I could record some of my favorite programs when inevitably something happens that I can’t watch them. I opened the box with glee. There was even a remote control with it! Rather small, and difficult to see even when held at arm’s length which is where most readable matter seems to be held these days. It needed its own batteries. Return to store, and buy batteries. This did have the effect of taking a bit of the edge off the purchase. I then found out that I had to buy tapes, so another journey was required to buy three (can’t buy one) VHS tapes with which to record my programs. ‘Do not pass go, do not collect $200’ came to mind. Several hours later, the aforementioned glee had turned to total frustration. I called the store that sold me this thing, only to be told that, “Any 7-year old could operate it.”
“Well, as one was not supplied with the box, please give me some help,” I retorted. The box now gets a weekly dusting, but I have finally worked out what VCR stands for – Very Confusing Resource. I’m waiting for my grandson to visit so that he can install it. If he can’t, I’m sure Rik will be able to. I hope the DVDs will fit into it, but the opening does seem to be terribly large.

As a young adult living in South London in the 1970s, my family was one of the earliest to acquire a VCR. Having researched the matter, I realized that the best quality was the Betamax format. Rik installed it at the tender age of 6. This almost proved to be a prudent choice (Betamax). The quality was much better than VHS, but in later years, fewer and fewer movies were available in this format. The good news was that no one ever broke into the house to steal it – an almost de rigeur occurrence in South London.

I’ve just bought a new telephone. I have an old one, but it is the type which has a cable attached, so that it is not possible to walk around while talking. I also had a remote one, but the battery was past its sell-by date, and would have cost more than a replacement phone. The new one allows to me call people even if I’m in bed. It has ‘speed-dialing’. That’s covered on Page 287 of the Instruction Manual. Might be Page 237, but I can’t quite make out the small print. Being unable to install the device prompted me to phone the Call Center (on the cable attached phone). I spoke with Rodney in Mumbai over a very crackly line. Rodney explained the error of my ways. I managed to install the batteries. I mentioned the speed-dialing. Rodney had to put me on hold for a moment. When he returned, he explained that I was not using the diaper in the correct manner and spillage may occur. Seems that the call-center tripled up on telephones, diapers and a UK bank. ‘Sir, if you will please press the # key twice, key in your account number, and your new diapers will arrive next week.’

Here endeth today’s lesson.