Not long ago, all you needed to cut through red tape was your social security number, or, if you were a guy, your name, rank, and serial number. Now, you need a lot more just to get through the average day. Dealing with banks, credit card companies, airlines, or placing orders by phone or online can be a nightmare.
The other day, Barbara wanted to cash in some mileage points for a trip to Chicago she was taking with her husband, Bert. She tried, but the airline insisted on talking to the primary cardholder, Bert. That was the last thing Bert, a bill-by-the hour attorney, wanted to do. When he called, resentfully, he was put on hold for what seemed an eternity before reaching a “live” representative. He thought the hard part was over. For security purposes, he was asked for the credit card linked to the account. He emptied his wallet and ran through every credit card he had. No match. Clearly, the one on file dated when he lost his wallet last year. No amount of cajoling moved the rep to continue. He had to hang up, call his accountant to search through old credit card statements in storage to find the missing number. An hour into the task, his time chart clicking, he got the number and called the airline company back. Still the number didn’t match. He had to cancel his account and start all over again. Barbara could have flown to Chicago on the hours he didn’t bill!
None of us can blame anyone else. It’s our fault these things happen. We’ve all written down important facts – passwords, the answers to prompts, place and date of our parents’ births, and then put them someplace “safe” – so safe, we’ve never found them again. If you’re like us, every time this happens, we swear we’ll remember where we put it, but we never do. It’s Groundhog Day all over again.
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