COLUMN: Technology not for the better after Visa disaster, says Westwell of Ely

Rosemary Westwell

Rosemary Westwell - Credit: Archant

Life is not fair. That is what we have been told by our parents and what we have probably been saying to our own children. It is accepted as the norm.

However, in many cases, life could be fair if changes were made. If the huge conglomerates that control our lives changed their attitude and if the general population refused to accept unfair practices, life would be fairer and better. Recently, many of us were suddenly unable to use our credit cards. Over the years we have been persuaded to go paperless and to use technology, for this, we have been told, is the only way forward… it will create a better future.

It certainly was not ‘a better future’ on Friday and a future with sudden closure of a service that was supposed to be open and usable, a service that we had already paid for, was certainly not an improvement.

We should always treat anything that takes over full control of us with suspicion. At least there should be workable alternatives immediately available, set up and paid for by the institutions that have taken over control. The easiest way would have been for Visa to have provided alternative methods of collecting payment – even if it meant bringing back the old paper credit card machine for collecting credit card payments.

A simple apology and an excuse – that it was a hardware problem - is not enough. Whatever the problem was, it was Visa’s responsibility to make sure this never happened.

Of course, now that they have been shown to be inadequate, they are saying that all will be well, for if we keep all our receipts for the inconvenience… I have yet to find a satisfactory end to this sentence.

A number of times in the past I have collected receipts to prove that I was inconvenienced but I have rarely been compensated fully. In one case it took 18 months and a lot of communications to get half of what I was owed.

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Now we are encouraged to simply wave our card at a machine and the correct payment will be taken.

We are told that technology is reliable, and that fact that we may end up paying twice if we accidentally wave our card too much over the machine, is vehemently denied.

Just because someone vehemently denies something, this does not mean that it definitely will not happen – it can only be a strong opinion expressed by a person, not a statement of irrefutable fact.

If life is to be fair, will Visa now accept a simple apology when our payments are late because our internet server (another world-dominating controlling mechanism) has failed us? I think not.