If you’re old enough, you can probably remember an excellent film called Westworld, adapted from a Michael Crichton novel by the same name. In it, Yul Brynner plays a robotic cowboy in a western theme park called Westworld. At the end, the robot goes haywire, and the words I used in the title of this post are uttered, confirming the worst: Something did, indeed, go horribly wrong.
I think we have reached a point in society where human interaction has been supplanted (unsuccessfully, I might add) by the computer. We no longer are a nation with businesses where “the customer is always right.” In fact, the opposite is true. Unless proven otherwise, the customer is always presumed to be wrong!
Yesterday morning, I placed an order for a cell phone with CRICKET, the non-contract cell phone provider powered by the AT&T network. I established an account, chose a plan, selected a user name, pin number, password, and security question, and purchased the phone. A little while later, I received a confirmation email. Great, I thought, my phone is on its way. I went on Amazon and ordered a protective case and a 64GB microSD memory card—both, by now, have already been shipped.
Fast forward to last evening. I was situated comfortably in my recliner, and was all set to watch the World Series game that I had recorded earlier. As I usually do in the evening, I checked my emails on my iPhone and, lo and behold, there was another email from CRICKET. Hmmm, I thought, what can this be about? I opened the email and got the shock of my life. CRICKET had canceled my order! What? Canceled my order? What the hell was that all about?
So, I go online and “live” chat with a representative from CRICKET, who tells me that they were unable to verify some aspect of my information. Naturally, I assume that the fault is mine. Perhaps I inadvertantly entered the wrong credit card information? Okay, those things happen. I ask the representative what I ought to do. The nitwit on the other end of the Internet tells me to “just go ahead and re-order. That’s the easiest thing to do.” So, the other idiot (me) tries do do just that. Guess what? The computer on the other end of the Internet says I can’t place an order using that phone number, because it is already in use. Yeah, it’s in use alright—by me!
Now, I am really angry. So I get on the phone and call CRICKET and actually speak to a person (I think it was a person—remember Westworld?), who offers to transfer me to the order department. “They’ll be able to straighten it out,” he says. Instead, he transfers me back to the main menu. So I go through two more representatives, each of whom promises to transfer me to the order department, but also sends me back to the main menu. Finally, I speak to a fourth representative, who tells me “the order department just closed a couple of minutes ago” (it was just past midnight).
So, this morning, I will be calling CRICKET to see exactly what the heck is going on. Oh, by the way, just for laughs, I checked my credit card account, and there, in bright blue lettering, was a pending charge for—you guessed it—my order with CRICKET. Obviously, somebody, or some computer screwed up. Since, in the world of computers “nothing can go wrong, can go wrong, can go wrong,” it had to have been a human. Or, maybe it wasn’t. I’ll probably never know.
I hope I can get it straightened out this morning, or I may have to just SCREAM—at somebody OR some computer. I can’t really single out CRICKET for screwing up, because something like this could just as well have happened with any one of the too-big-to-fail corporations like Verizon, Bank of America, AT&T, DISH TV, or the myriad of others less interested in humans than in computers, and, by extension, money. You know, it happens all the time. And they just don’t care.
FLASH: I’m 71; I don’t know if I can make it much longer in this screwed up, impersonal, computer-run world, or if I even want to. As Charlton Heston said in Planet of the Apes, “IT’S A MAD HOUSE!”