It's all happened during my lifetime

Friday, May 30, 2014

I received an updated credit card in the mail. It was the same card type, same account number, and my name was the same. Activating the new card should have been child's play, but like so many recent technological wonders, it was anything but. There have been so many changes during my life that at times, it is confusing.

There were only two identifiable changes on my card. First they updated and extended the expiration date for three years. The second alteration was a new security number. Otherwise, the card was the same size, color, shape and as previously stated, had the same name and account number.

I am sure there is a good reason for this card rejuvenation, but I'm not sure I am fully vested in its necessity. My card was in fine condition and it looked to me as if it could have lasted for several more years.

Actually, I would have no issue with the new card, if they would simply make the transitions a bit easier. Here is where modern technology and bill paying, can become very complicated.

The actual update could be completed in a matter of seconds with the credit card company. You had two choices: you could call the company directly or you could update the new card online.

Having had years of experience dealing with attempted phone calls to a variety of 800-number assistance lines, I opted for the online solution. Like many of you, I have been put on hold or given the runaround far too often to risk that approach.

Undaunted, I found the online process simple and expedient. In my online account, there was an update tab at the top of the page. When I clicked on that it offered me several options, one of which was titled, "activate new card." Presto, in a nano second (that's a modern day term for you old fogies), the new card was activated.

I was really doing well. Then I remembered that I had several bills each month that were paid automatically through this credit card. That's where this "cutting-edge" high-tech system threw me a curve. The autopay enrollment for these monthly payments contained the information from the old card. If I didn't call or go online to each company and change the expiration date and security number, my card would be denied when the next payments were due.

I could go on with the story of just how long and arduous my morning continued, but I think you can imagine. By the end of the project, I was almost ready to scrap the entire auto-pay system and go back to either phone payments or the old tried and true method of putting a check in the mail.

In the end, I did succeed, and now for at least three more years, my credit card is updated and my automatic monthly payments will be processed with no further action required on my part.

There are most definitely points and counter points for this "Jetson-like" world that we live in today. Like most newfangled inventions, there are wonders to behold and drawbacks to consider.

Like many of you, I can recall when the vast majority of us had no credit cards. You remember when we either carried cash, a personalized checkbook or just used one of the counter checks at the place we were doing business.

I also remember, that there were a lot of bad checks received by businesses regularly back then. Not much of that happens anymore. Most businesses now are tied electronically into each bank. They can tell in an instant if there are funds available for that check.

Still, it is so much easier to use cards than checks. You can go to any place in the country -- or most countries around the world for that matter -- and use your credit or debit card.

Perhaps the most significant change during my time has been in the area of human connection. When I was a kid, my parents wrote a letter a week to my grandparents in Warrensburg, Mo. They had me write a few lines (once I had leaned cursive) to include in the envelope.

We would call them very seldom. Long distance was expensive, and you never talked more than three minutes. By the way, I can remember when we had only one phone in the house, and it was on a party line.

These days, you are considered quite obsolete if you don't have several phones in your house and if every member of the household does not have their own cell phone.

I do my best to keep up with all the innovations, but at times I feel as if I'm slipping behind. I have a smartphone and I can assure you it is definitely smarter than me!

Young people of today hardly have to worry about using their credit cards. They can pay for most things with their phone. I can remember when desktop computers were the latest rage. Most kids today won't use anything bigger than an iPad.

Yes, keeping up with the newest and latest can be challenging, but it's worth the effort. There is a golf commercial on television. It shows guys who played through the years with all the different clubs and balls. Imagine one made of feathers versus the modern day ball?

I prefer what's new and better. As I am writing this article, I am using a spellchecker (I never could spell)! I am also using my iPhone dictionary app, which helps me with grammar, synonyms and other journalistic issues.

Yes, it has all happened in my time, and there are many wonders to follow. I recently added a new flashlight app to my phone. Maybe it will light my way into the future!