Opinion

'Convenience' has very different meanings

Last week, I received a letter from my bank. In big bold letters inside it declared, Your Replacement Debit Card Has Arrived! Sure enough, inside was a shiny new card. It said my old one was being replaced because I had requested a new one or my old one was nearing its expiry date. They had sent me this ‘for my convenience.’

I have been with my bank for many years. They have always looked after my needs, but any time I receive something ‘for my convenience,’ it means I have to go to the bank and deal with numbers and PINs and passwords and the experience  is anything but convenient.

As far as I was concerned, my old card was just fine.  Maybe some of the numbers were worn and the little chip was scuffed but it had just the perfect, gentle curve to fit in my wallet. It had been a close friend for three years or more. This new one was stiff and heavy and it didn’t feel right.

I followed instructions, went to the bank, inserted the card and it said ‘Incorrect PIN.’ After three tries, I went to the teller and we determined this was a card to an account I had access to but very seldom used.

I had no idea what the PIN was. Maybe it was a combination of my birth month and day or my kid’s birthdays or some other clever code that I would never forget. But after a few minutes, the teller explained I should put all my accounts onto this one card as ‘it would be more convenient for me.’

Then it happened. She said she would come to the machine with me. Suddenly, I was the old grey-haired man at the bank machine being instructed by the young girl on how to put a new PIN on my new card. How many times had I waited in line for one of those machines, sighing, while some poor old bugger was being instructed how to set up his card? It happens that fast.

I have too many passwords, PIN numbers or access codes to keep track of. I smile at TV shows when they bring in a hacker to find someone’s passwords. From my experience, all you have to do is look inside the right hand desk drawer or under the desk blotter and you’ll find them written there.

The problem is that some have to be just numbers, some a combination of letters and numbers, some  four characters, some a minimum of six and that is too much information to store in a tired old brain.

A father was handing a new puppy to his little girl and he cautioned her, “Be careful what you name your first pet because it will be the answer to your security codes for the rest of your life.”

Another lady told me her password to everything is the word, ‘Incorrect.’ She explains that she can type in anything and  the computer says, ‘Your password is incorrect.’ It’s a great reminder.

I remember when your boss gave you your cheque, you took it to the bank in your neighbourhood and told them to put this much in chequing, pay these three bills and give you this much in cash. You saw your money, you felt your money and you knew where it was and how to get at it.

Now that was convenience. At least that’s what McGregor says.

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