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Let Inga Tell You: Techno-challenged? Confused? Frustrated? Check, check and check

To Inga, writing a check is easier than trying to figure out the latest technological innovations.
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In my perfect world, there would be no bill that could not be paid by check.

Unfortunately for us check-writing Luddites, the check option has run into obstacles in the form of the post-pandemic paucity of people on the other end to actually process that check once it arrives. The U.S. Postal Service’s new (slower) delivery estimates aren’t helping.

I have written several times about the dozens (feels like hundreds) of hours it has taken to straighten out the mess last year when the California Franchise Tax Board failed to cash our 2021 tax check even four weeks after it was mailed. It sat in a pile somewhere uncredited well after the tax deadline.

A similar thing happened with our automobile insurance check, which was mailed May 30 but still hadn’t been processed by its due date July 1, generating a letter of cancellation for non-payment. I immediately called and paid it again on a credit card, only to have the original check cashed July 15 — six weeks after it was mailed. It was two more months to get a refund from them. (They cited “staffing problems.”)

Those same companies that are lacking people to actually work in their offices still manage to have computers that are fully capable of canceling insurance or making you a tax deadbeat.

Online bill paying through our bank’s website works well for bills that can be paid that way. But for sites where I can’t, they make you change your password to some never-previously-used password every idiotic 90 days.

Don’t even get me going on some of those “I am not a robot” things that are completely indecipherable and clearly created by robots.

The dual-verification thing where they have to send a text to your phone with a code is very effective in keeping people out of your account. Those people would be us. Invariably, the person with that phone is not home when you need to get the code.

But you often can use your email address instead. Better idea, yes? Well, no. Those codes are only good for 10 minutes and they sometimes don’t show up in our inbox until hours later.

We techno-challenged people are now being thwarted at every turn. When I last had to renew my driver’s license, pre-pandemic, they required people of a certain age to show up in person to take the written driver’s exam. Personally, I think they just wanted proof of life. To my dismay, they sent me to a bank of computer terminals where I was forced to take the test on a computer screen that would only give me the test in Vietnamese.

Fortunately, there was a nice helper guy who was busy trying to assist the techno-frustrated people in my demographic. I had to wait a half-hour for him. I could have finished a written test in 15 minutes.

I have often said in this column that no technology should be released on the general public without being tested on me and a selection of my techno-disabled peers. Every time my engineer husband mentions the word “intuitive,” I want to smite him.

Which brings me to another harder-with-technology innovation: self-service supermarket scanners. I don’t shop frequently at a market that has them, but the checkout lines are long, so if I have just a few items, I try to use the self-service scanner. I really am trying to embrace technology, even though I think it is mostly evil except for FaceTime with the grandkids, which is truly a great invention.

One of the three items I was buying one day, besides a custom birthday cake, was a single bakery kaiser roll. (Don’t judge. This is how the elderly shop.) So the scanner directions said that for stuff without a scanner label thingy, type in the name of the product. So I type in “kaiser roll” and it says there’s no such thing. Just like the DMV, there was a helper person onsite to help the techno-stymied. This lady was beyond burned out on this job and fed up with people who were complete morons who could not, in her obvious opinion, follow simple directions.

She rolled her eyes. “You have to type in ‘roll,’ then the types of rolls come up and you select the picture labeled ‘kaiser roll’ and then how many you want. In your case, one. Then ‘enter.’”

She was trying very hard not to say: “Like, duh! And who buys a single kaiser roll???” She was just so annoyed.

Sorry, lady. If you tell people to type in the name of the item, they are going to type in the name of the item. (See “beta testing on seniors” and “smiting people who use the word ‘intuitive.’”)

But for everything else, I would just like to write a check — two minutes max! — plunk it in a mailbox and have the post office deliver it to people who are sitting at their desks waiting to credit it to my account.

And see if I ever buy another kaiser roll again.

Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in the La Jolla Light. Reach her at inga47@san.rr.com. ◆