Two cents blog

First World Problems

by Jessica Berry on 10 October 2013

I think it’s safe to say that I can be a little precious at times. Perhaps a good example of someone who, on a regular basis, runs into serious ‘first world problems’. For example, I feel slightly robbed when coffee shops don’t have free wifi; I get annoyed if the TV show I’m watching isn’t in HD; and most commonly, I find it quite displeasing when items I need, such as a snack, aren’t in a one metre radius of my bed. Hey, we’ve all been there; asking ourselves, do we really have to get up? And WHY OH WHY haven’t they already invented a food teleportation device to avoid this dilemma?

But what happens when something distinctively first world (and supposed to make our lives easier) becomes the issue?

There I was, scowling at my computer screen, stuck trying to find a phone number to call up about a flight made through an online travel booking website. I had to make an urgent change. I couldn’t go directly through the airline company, and all I wanted was to speak to a customer service representative to ensure my request was handled properly and promptly. When I finally found a phone number and read the fine print, I discovered that to speak with another human being and to make my change over the phone would incur an extra charge of $50 per person.

But I didn’t want to pay an extra $50 on top of the airlines fees! What if I needed that money for organic vegetables to feed my first world dietary requirements?

Slowly but surely, we have been cutting out the middle man between customers and the service. Sometimes I appreciate this – like being able to go through the self-checkout at Woolworths and avoid awkward forced conversation with the cashier who clearly hates her job. But this time, with my airfare booking, I was feeling needy. I wanted awkward forced conversation with a customer service representative, that wasn’t going to cost me anything but 15 minutes of my important Facebook time. Reluctantly, to save the extra $50, I decided to use the online portal to execute my request.

Being a gadget geek, I love how fast paced and high-tech life has become. We have so much conveniently at our fingertips and are becoming very accustomed to being three steps ahead. But after this experience, I felt a step behind and left wondering where is the happy medium between online convenience and customer service? (Along with wondering whether my request was being processed by a human or a droid). Sadly, this hasn’t been the first time I’ve felt physically cut off from a company, or had to go around in circles, selecting numbers before cracking the magic code to speak to someone.

I feel like technology can be the cure but also the cause of my first world problems. Do you at times feel let down by the ongoing computerisation of everyday life? Do you have any similar #firstwordproblems you’d like to share?

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Jessica Berry is an Account Coordinator at BCM

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