Modern technology is a strange phenomenon. On the one hand it has the ability to simplify complex records and calculations; provide access to and storage for copious data; enable us to remain connected, tracked and subject to so many reminders and notifications that we never miss a second of news nor a pre-arranged appointment. On the other hand it can be a pernicious intrusion into the quietness of life; a thief of time and the most frustrating experience when it fails, as it so constantly does, to deliver as promised.
Now I know there can be a large amount of human error attributable to these failures; for instance I am still struggling after 18 months of owning a particular model of Smartphone to work out how to answer it before it switches to Voicemail. Of course, if I received more calls this particular issue might be overcome but, having grown up in an era when we were taught to limit telephone use because of the expense, my generation hasn't really cottoned onto the "push a shopping trolley with one hand whilst your other is holding a phone to your ear" brigade.
That said, I do not castigate myself as a complete technological numpty. I use the phone as a calendar and access way to the Internet; I have What'sApp to communicate with the family and various social media accounts; I keep accounts on Excel, can use a variety of macros in Word and am now becoming prolific with my use of Microsoft's Movie Maker. I have ventured into the world of Google Docs; all of my devices synch; I use wifi to transfer photographs from my camera to phone and bluetooth for a hands-free communication experience in my car.
Why therefore did the gods conspire to thwart me when I wanted to do a simple transfer of my mobile phone number from one network to another? I make so few calls that I have been running my phone on Pay as You Go. Unfortunately my provider decided to shut up shop with effect from today and in order to retain my number all arrangements had to be completed by yesterday.
It was to be no problem. I obtained the necessary Pac Code and a new Sim card from another provider all in good time. On Monday of this week, my only problem was a surfeit of credit on my existing network. I cleverly reduced this by sending a text to donate to a worthy cause and sent messages to several friends (who like me and for similar reasons never use their phones to ring). On Tuesday evening I checked the remaining credit and sent another charity text to clear the balance, except it didn't. That was a bit of a quandary. Did I proceed with the transfer regardless and let the Charity deduct from my new account, leaving me to claim back the balance on the old by cheque from the closing network or wait to see if the text worked its magic and cleared my balance?
I decided to leave matters overnight.The following morning the charity had still not taken its dues; the text had clearly been sent and I was left holding a credit balance that I didn't want. I decided to change tact; donated it to another good cause (knowing that I might still have to pay out to the other charity but feeling it was worth it not to have to enter the realms of copious on-line forms to reclaim a relatively modest sum or worse still donate it to the erstwhile mobile network company's profits) and then logged on to hand over my Pac code and change number.
It was at that precise moment that the new network provider's website decided to hang, and to hang and to hang. A check revealed that it was not my computer but the website itself. There were five hours to go until the 5pm deadline after which transfer requests would not be processed in time to take effect by yesterday. All Wednesday afternoon was therefore spent in a pattern of logging on and hanging.
The deadline came and went, and my number went with it.
I had no choice but to spend Thursday logging into all my online accounts changing my personal information and updating my mobile number to the new one provided with the new network's Simcard. Some insist on sending OTPs, One Time Passcodes (you see I even know the terminology) to the old number and there was much changing of Sim cards whilst I still had access to both networks, frantically trying to ensure that I completed the task before I would drop into the murky world of re-registrations and requests to Banks for pin codes in order to jump through their security hoops.
Of course, I still have to notify all those friends who never ring of the number change, giving them their own headache of altering details on their phones.
So it is that a transaction that could almost have been simple has dominated the week causing me to despair for the future. How ever will I manage when I really can't even half follow what is required of me to keep a phone in my pocket that will actually ring so that I may one day just stand a chance of being able to answer it.
"It's all down to market forces and capitalism," said Mister E. "Life was simpler in the days of a monopolised telecommunications company. Imagine it letting you lose your number," he added in a moment of Corbynista type philosophising.
Ah yes, the simple life; the life I am seeking in retirement. It looks like I still have a long way to go and I either learn to use and live with this technology or give it up completely; if only!