August 27, 2013 Michael Bickerton
All readers and those that know me, know I love this DIGITAL stuff. I’m like a kid in a candy store at times. I am continually amazed at the fantastic and ingenious services, apps and processes available to all of us. Technology and the Internet have completely changed the world. Nothing can compare to the opportunity to connect, communicate and educate.
Yet amidst all the opportunity we are beginning to see the dark side, and unlike Yoda, there is no young Skywalker in sight.
Here are a few things that I consider dangerous:
Now this process is just beginning; big government, big insurance, big telecommunications, big airlines and big oil are truly utilizing these technologies to control their costs and build their profits.
The consumer is a puppet in this transaction and at some point we must start to ask questions about customer service and the ever-increasing bottom lines of these companies.
Many of these organizations are talking within “fork tongue” claiming to be consumer driven while clearly lining their pockets. This is happening while inconveniencing consumers. Interestingly, many at the same time are out-sourcing jobs to other countries and (like the telecommunications companies) are then crying “poor Canadians” when some competitive relief is finally being considered.
Consumers need protection; people need protection in the same way that unions, co-operatives and credit unions protected them in the past. The technology has created an environment that needs evaluation.
Technology is outstanding. Yet there is a great deal of evidence that we need to ensure that large corporations are required to provide reasonable and basic services that are PEOPLE driven.
In times past, Unions supported the worker when they united. Ralph Nader and others supported consumers when they communicated. Now there is a new consumer, a new worker and a new reality due to technology. Its time that people and consumers counter the negative aspects of technology, isn’t it?
Will the government assist us? This remains to be seen. However, in this new age, the technology age we need something new to counter the abuses that are being perpetrated today. Keep in mind these abuses will continue as the technology gap expands. If left unchecked, you can be certain that the customer service levels will continue to deteriorate.
Bick says that it’s time to consider our options. Time to really push back against the biggest offenders. The digital white knight will appear as soon as we the people begin to say, “sorry that your piece of technology is NOT acceptable and we are going to do something different”.
Can we expect a digital Han Solo (“I’ve got a bad feeling about this”) who doesn’t charge you 21% on a credit card, or $1.50 to withdraw your own money, or charge you $30 to have access to bank account? Let’s keep in mind as we progress with technology many off these services will not be services but in reality will be rights; must haves for everyone.
We need protection right now; it’s time you give some thought to your service providers and their service standards. Evaluate how they are treating you and your neighbour. Are the changes and charges reasonable, fair and in your best interests? If not, you need to start a political action plan to get some attention.
I think the worst is yet to come; it’s time we take back some control especially since the technology is progressing at a pace that’s never been seen or contemplated before.
Keep in mind, first and foremost, technology is to serve the people, not the monopolies and financial monoliths that have been created by that same technology.
May the force be with you.
Michael Bickerton, Raven5 Ltd, August 2013, Oakville & Toronto Canada