PRESS 1, PRESS 2……
My Water filter does not work. I call the service number on the contract. The recorded voice goes –
Press 1 for English
Press 2 for Hindi
Press 3 for Marathi
I press my preference. It continues – Press 1 for Vacuum Cleaner, 2 for Air Conditioner……. Water filter is at Press 5. Music
Again Press 1 for new product, Press 2 for upgrade, Press…..7 for complaint
When I think I am there, she tells me to hold on while she connects me. Music again. Follows an ad with many children squealing and shouting and the Mother says, “Do not drink any water. ‘X’ filter water is the healthiest.” Then a jingle -“We Guard your health”. Some more music. I must have been holding the phone for about 5 minutes. Again, she says, “Thank you for holding on. Please wait while we connect you to Customer service.”
It is 10 am. Workday must have just started. I wonder how Customer service can be busy this early unless they have a backlog of complaints. Whatever. Now I disconnect and call the man who had left his mobile number when he drew up the service contract. Fortunately, he answers, but tells me that he cannot take a complaint. I have to dial the toll-free service number which has already taken a toll on my patience. My hand has got enough exercise, transferring it from ear to hand for pressing. I give up.
From time to time the same company calls me offering a new version of the filter machine. “Ma’am, your machine is more than 5 years old. It is better you upgrade.” When I tell him about the poor after service, he gives me another number and name, telling me to call there. Back to square one.
I rarely call my Bank, but when I do, it’s again Press 1 for Hindi, Press 2….
After 2-3 such series, at number 9, I am told I will be connected to a representative. There is music and more music till I give up. No person ever comes on the line. I finally go personally to the Bank. If I have some balance worth investing, 3-4 people come up to me and say they are my ‘Personal Banker’. They even give me a card with their name and mobile number. I have rarely seen a ‘Personal banker’ in the same branch after 2-3 months. When I narrate my woes with their toll-free numbers, they say they’re sorry, it’s the system. Not in their hands. If I still persist, then they tell me, “Could I please go to that table?” – the farthest one!
It is the same with the mobile service provider, the DTH services and so on. Press 1, Press 2. Sometimes when I am not too frustrated, I actually enjoy the music, even though the services are never delivered. So much for the computerised and digitalised world!
When I was young, my father had read out an article, “The tyranny of things” which described how the gadgets and machines we acquire for our comfort, gradually enslave and tyrannise us. This, with an army of smooth-talking salespeople, great promises of after sales service and how life is incomplete without all these frills.
I know some people who have with families, formed groups and live in remote areas, ‘far away from the madding crowd’ – a civilised life, but without the trappings of technology. They work the land, enjoy the bounties of Nature as well as face the hardships and educate their children to live a simple yet full life.
I have not joined them yet, but cut out on gadgets. I boil the tap water with a few herbs and drink, like my 85+ cousin and his wife, who are still so healthy and hearty. I watch movies, news on the Net, or in single screen theatres. Or, I read the book. I go to the bank personally. It is good physical exercise and good to deal with people face to face. I don’t have AC or washing machine. A phone, I still retain, to be in touch. But I no longer go for the Press 1, Press 2 mode. Back to the future. Minimum technology, Maximum Life – is ‘simply’ better!