Saturday 25 October 2014

Name change

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My Step-father's cremation will take place at 10.30 am in Gorleston next Tuesday the 28th. Afterwards a wake is being held at the King Alfred Pub in Carlton Colville. That was the easy bit to sort out, the hardest bit has been contacting all the firms, and organisations, that hold his details and which either need to be changed over to my mums name, or deleted completely. My mother is in such a daze at the moment she's unable to carry out the simplest of tasks so I have taken on the duties of sorting out the bureaucracy. 

And what a merry-go-round has this been!

All the bills and documents are in my step-fathers name as is traditional for that generation, so I phoned them up, and with every one of them I got through to that annoying number system. "please pick one of the following six options" then after picking one hoping it would put you in the right direction you then hear again "please pick one of the following five options"; and just as you thought you might get through to a human I got through to a third set instructions, "please pick of the following three options". I found it so frustrating because after going though it all you were then asked to talk to a computer which asked me to give personal information as a security measure, and as I didn't know this information because it went to the grave with my step-father I couldn't go any further. I would have to start the whole process again hoping if I pressed a different number option I would finally get through to a human voice who could help me.

In most cases once I was able to speak to someone they were able to do what was required and occasionally I had to send off a copy of the death certificate; although I must add the worst institution was the Television Licence office who refused to do anything over the phone and insisted everything has to be done by snail mail. Their attitude was what you would have expected in the 1940's.

What was most upsetting about the whole process, and also the most worrying, were the mistakes made by the people at the other end of the telephone. As an example my mother received a letter from a government department that had been contacted which stated "Dear Mr Cassidy we are sorry to hear about the loss of Mr Cassiday! So I would have to go through the operation again to get the mistakes corrected. I have been encountering problems again and again as the changes we requested to be made start to filter through the system. As the saying goes with computers "you put garbage in you get garbage out."

If you think about the billions of bits of information that are added to computer systems of one sort or another around the world on a daily bases. If you then factor in the high percentage rate of mistakes made by the people who are inputting this information, and which is never corrected, since electronic systems started to take over our lives thirty years ago, it does beg the question.

If so much of what is held on computers is corrupted should we place so much faith on what we are told in this digital age?



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