Not So Smart

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Enjoying some January sunshine – the dogs are more interested in the passers by

I love technology don’t you?  I love being able to talk to my mum in the UK and I adore surfing the internet.   I started online grocery shopping more than ten years ago and love the fact that I can order from UK in Spain.   I was one of the first franchisees to embrace creating email newsletters for my Rosemary Conley customers and at one stage sent out a daily newsletter.  I learned to upload photographs from our old camera, published a couple of videos on You Tube and created spreadsheets by working out how to do it myself.   Despite a few frustrating moments and knowing that there is far more that a computer can do that I am aware of, technology has made my life better. I have a couple of stumbling blocks though; remote controls of which we have far too many and as I am rarely in the house alone I forget which blasted control does what and end up messing up all Steve’s careful programming.  “It’s easy, let me show you” says Steve, a phrase guaranteed to make my blood boil.  “I know it’s easy” I seethe back at him. “I just can’t remember from one solo viewing opportunity to the next”.

The greatest stumbling block and gadget that has made me feel really old however has been the Smart Phone.  A few years ago I was duped into upgrading my basic mobile phone to a Smart Phone which only escaped being thrown through a window on several occasions by supreme effort on my part as the frustration I felt when trying to operate the darn thing has only ever been equalled by my experiences as a teenager in the 70’s trying to create a hairstyle utterly unsuited to my hair type, age and hairdressing ability.  The touch screen of the smart phone highlighted a previously un-noticed intention tremor which meant that texting, previously a simple and speedy operation became a error littered and occasionally lengthy nightmare.    I called people unintentionally, opened screens I didn’t even know I had and generally couldn’t cope.  When we came to Spain, the exorbitant cost of continuing to use an English contract meant I gratefully returned to a basic mobile phone with which I have been able to phone people and text quite happily and even use predictive text in Spanish – get me.

In the last few months however, Steve and I have thought hard about whether technology may be leaving us behind and how, if we didn’t get a smart phone now and learn how to use it, we might be faced with the situation of being excluded from various aspects of cyber life including transactions in shops or the internet much as users of cheques as opposed to debit cards struggle these days and then have to face a learning curve of such steepness that we would find it too difficult.  Having decided to ahead with the project we did some research, Steve on the internet and me with my young Spanish students who were very helpful if a little patronising, suggesting a phone with big numbers would be a good idea.  We decided on a phone and I set off to the mobile phone shop where I was able to buy a phone for Steve who only wanted a pay as you go deal and then asked about an upgrade for my phone using my existing contract or similar.   Yes, this was possible was the reply along with a lot more information to which, thinking I had understood I replied “Si, si”.  As I signed all the paperwork, Helen, who was with me, asked about the cost of the contract as the specific price hadn’t been mentioned.  To my surprise, I was told an amount that was higher than I had asked for and thought I had agreed to and in my usual passive manner I said OK and left the shop feeling bamboozled.  Once I got home there was, shall we say, a discussion and I returned to the shop to say that I had made a mistake and wanted to change the contract to a lower tariff.  This is not possible.  Once you have signed the paperwork you cannot change to a lower tariff.  You can of course change to a higher tariff immediately if your mistake has been to ask for too low a tariff.  I returned home with my tail between my legs but following further discussion I went back to the shop for one last try.  I was told to ring customer services and managed to speak to an English speaker who told me that I had a beautiful name, asked me if I was having a good day and that I had a commitment to the contract and it couldn’t be changed.  I appealed to the shop assistant to try on my behalf and after a conversation with someone, presumably a manager, was told I could change the tariff after 24 hours.  This being a Saturday we asked if we could come back on Monday morning for the same girl to change the tariff and was told yes, claro (of course).

I had a feeling that being told to come back was just a way of getting rid of us (me, Helen and Steve who had accompanied us for the third visit) and that the return visit wouldn’t accomplish anything.  Sure enough when we arrived on Monday morning we were greeted by a different shop assistant and were told that the original girl didn’t work until the evening.  Grrrrr.  We tried to explain the situation to no avail.

I did have one more try at sorting the problem out when I returned again having discovered that the SIM from my old phone wouldn’t fit the new one and was told that yes, I could lower the tariff but it would cost 50Euros.   Lesson well and truly learned.

On the bright side, I now have a smart phone and am learning to use it.  The screen doesn’t seem as sensitive as my first smart phone and I am finding it fairly straightforward to use.  I even took a few videos of yesterday’s carnival procession and hope to work out how to upload them later today.  We have organised a tutorial session with some friends this week so hope to avoid any frustrating situations and I am looking forward to becoming more knowledgeable and confident.

PS I was hoping to add a video to the post but haven’t quite worked out how to upload yet……..

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