Aris Silzars Display Technology Consulting

DISPLAY CONSULTING

 

How Much Did I Spend?…

There is a new trend that seems to be growing and spreading like a bad virus and I think I am not going to like it. 

For example, a few months ago I returned a rental car after two days of business travel and as usual I waited for the agent to print out a receipt.   However, this time I was politely informed that the receipt would be sent to me by e-mail.  My response to this offer was that I would prefer they give me the receipt right away so I can check to see if the charges match up with my expectations.  The requested receipt was printed for me and indeed there were no surprises.

A few weeks later, as I was checking out of my hotel room, the desk clerk had a similar response – my receipt would be sent to me by e-mail.   I responded that I would like to see a copy before leaving so I could check to make sure all the charges were proper.  “Of course, sir” was the polite answer.  On this occasion, there was a missing breakfast that should have been included.  I pointed this out and the bill was corrected.  I was on my way knowing that the transaction was complete and I could turn in a proper expense statement to my client.

Then a few days ago, I went to visit the store of my cell phone provider to return an item and to exchange it for two other less expensive accessories.  All the sales staff in this store now walk around with iPads that keep track of just about everything they are doing.  They use them to look up technical data, sales prices, item availability, etc.  Each and every transaction is done using these iPads.  And of course they also serve as a “cash register”.   Once again when I asked to get a receipt for this somewhat complex transaction, the friendly answer was that one would be sent to me by e-mail.  And as in my two other exemplary cases, I politely told this nice person I would like to have a copy of the receipt printed for me so I could review the transaction to make sure there were no surprises.  In this case, he had to go into a back room to print the receipt but I was able to leave the store knowing that the transaction had gone the way I had expected. 

Fundamentally -- if the world were a perfect place – there should be no problem with getting an e-mail receipt sometime after the transaction.  So why am I fussing?  Can’t I just accept the new methods of the 21st century?   Well, for me it’s not the method itself but what happens if something goes wrong -- which unfortunately it does with alarming regularity.  Should the receipt arrive by e-mail and there is an error, now what do I do?  Who do I talk to to get the problem resolved?  If I call my major rental car company, I will need to go through many levels of automated menus to get to a real person.  And that real person has no idea where and what I rented and why the charges are incorrect.  Did I get charged for gas when I returned with a full tank?  How will they be able to check?   If the hotel has added mini-bar charges that I didn’t make, how long will it take me to straighten that out?  And even if they agree to remove them after a phone call or two, I won’t know that they were actually cancelled until my next month’s credit card bill shows up.  Having gone through this exercise when a hotel added an incorrect charge, I prefer not to spend any more time on these activities than absolutely necessary.

As for my latest experience with my cell phone provider, that multi-level transaction had an even greater risk of ending up with an error.  With an e-mail receipt that shows up at some later time, it would be easy for me to also forget exactly what it was that I exchanged and what other items I purchased. 

So here we go, riding an accelerating information age roller coaster, into a world of electronic transactions that the big computers up “in the cloud” will be managing for us.  And should that human on the input end push the wrong key or make some other mistake, well then the best of luck getting it unraveled later.  Will it even be possible to get a “real” person to help – especially one who lives on the same continent?  And how many buttons will you have to punch to even get that far?   Perhaps I am a reluctant participant in some of these new trends of the 21st century, but I always feel better when I know that a purchase transaction has gone as I expected.  I may not be very good at managing surprises – especially ones involving my finances.  I do like to know how much I spent when I leave the store. 

There is a good news aspect to all this for those of us in the display industry.  As these remote “cash registers” proliferate, each one needs a nice display and these heavily used devices will require constant updating and replacement.  So from a business standpoint this is good news for display manufacturers.  It’s also good news because it introduces people to yet another new application for display panels.  They are becoming ever more ubiquitous in our world.  That part I like. 

However, this ubiquity should not necessitate the sacrifice of conveniences that we have come to expect and that make our lives more predictable.  A purchase transaction should require the agreement of both the seller and the buyer and that agreement needs to be recorded in a way that the buyer as well as the seller can review and accept.  The sending of e-mails at some later time puts all the control in the hands of the seller.  As the buyer I am only left with the option to protest through a purposely complicated communications channel.  That’s scary.  

I would be interested to hear about your experiences in “purchasing land”.  Perhaps you are doing all of your buying on-line and have not had to deal with these situations yet.  However, if you are a business traveler you have no choice but to be in the midst of this new world of paperless transactions.  Some of the changes are actually quite convenient and beneficial.  Let me know which ones you like and which ones concern you.  You can contact me directly from this site, by e-mail at silzars@attglobal.net , or by telephone at 425-898-9117.            

 

 

 

19916 NE 30th Ct. Sammamish, WA 98074 Call 425.898.9117

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