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Beacon Senior News

Downgrade me, please!

Jan 28, 2020 12:20PM ● By Arthur Vidro

Companies are constantly evolving, changing what they do and how they do it. Typically, they explain that every change they make is to help serve customers better. But I challenge that claim. I believe most corporations act in their own best interest. All I request is they be honest about it.

For example, my intelligence was insulted when a local supermarket told me they had done away with their customer service counter so they could “better serve the customers.” According to their twisted logic, it frees up the person normally assigned to customer-service duty to float around the store or handle a checkout register. To me, that would be like shutting down the police station so anyone working there can instead help patrol the town.

Now, I’ve gotten a notification from my health insurance provider, which reads, “Good news! We’ve upgraded you to paperless alerts. We emailed you about it, but just to be sure, we’re letting you know by regular mail, too. Now you can enjoy easier and quicker access to information about your plan.”

I didn’t consider this “upgrade” good news. As my use of quote marks suggests, I didn’t even consider it an upgrade.

Many people welcome paperless options wherever possible. And that’s fine. But this world shouldn’t be one size fits all. I prefer the paper option.

I don’t want to open accounts at the website of every entity I do business with and have more passwords to keep track of, especially when the passwords I want to use are rejected for not being sufficiently complicated.

I don’t know about you, but I get far more junk emails than junk paper mail. I don’t like sifting through electronic clutter. I gave the insurance company an email account I look at about once every six months; it’s what I give out to places that enjoy generating automated emails.

If something is important, pick up the telephone and call me, or better yet put it on paper and send it via the post office. I’ll pay much more attention, and I’ll probably read the news faster than if you send it electronically.

In tiny print at the end of the note from the insurers, they wrote, “You may opt-out of this arrangement anytime by updating your communication preferences online or calling us at the Member Services number on your ID card.”

Here’s my interpretation of how this note from the insurance company would read if it were written honestly: “We have decided to save money in postage by sending you all our future unsolicited communications electronically. So get used to going to the email account you hardly ever look at and that is too cluttered with automated messages to even bother with. However, we acknowledge the importance of continuing to receive premium monthly payments from you, so we’ll still send those notices by post. We have to give you a way to opt-out, but it helps our bottom line if you don’t. So if you want out, go dig up your insurance card and hunt for the right phone number, because we’re sure not going to make it any easier for you by putting our phone number on this notice.”

Again, I don’t mind the company acting in its own best interest. I merely mind the pretense that it’s for my own good.

I dialed them right away and explained I had just been “upgraded” to a paperless experience. However, I added, “Please downgrade me back to a paper experience. It will make my life so much easier.”

They chuckled at my use of “downgrade,” but agreed to do so.

For that, I salute them.