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Dean Minnich: At war with the password gremlins | COMMENTARY

If I get as far as the Pearly Gates, I know what happens next.

They’re going to ask me for my password, and I will wing it and they will say, “Nope, that’s not it. Try again.”

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Then I will try again, and they will say, “You have one more chance to enter the correct password. Failure will result in your account being shut down, forever and ever, amen.”

My theory about all the public anger today is that the sourpusses have been on their computers – or other devices – and have been thwarted for lack of a correct password.

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I never lost a key to a post office box, and I always took care to keep track of both copies of the key to my bank lockbox, but I cannot seem to hold onto a password.

It’s so bad that I gave up trying to order my medicines online because they keep telling me I don’t exist. I get bills and email notifications, which I am supposed to certify with a return message, but I can’t get them to remember my password. I have called the customer service number and after being on hold forever, suffered the indignity of being disconnected.

My cellphone provider of the past several years won’t take my calls. I sit on hold listening to music to conjure mayhem.

The TV ads say if you notice this symptom, or that, see your doctor. So, you try to call your doctor, and you get the recorded answering system, which is a great big filter doubling as a maze to make sure you really, really need to make an appointment. I have timed the process and can certify that it can take up to two full minutes to listen to all the options before you are instructed to push a button. After you argue with robots for a half-hour, you may be privileged to hear the sound of a human voice, which tells you the next available appointment is in three months.

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If you get an appointment, you will begin getting both emails and phone texts three weeks in advance asking you to confirm your appointment. If you try to do it online, your password or username does not match their records, but they will not tell your which one is bogus. By the time you figure that out, you have set a new password, which you now, of course, do not remember.

There seems to be a disconnect between who decides if you need to see a doctor, or when. Some rule out there is that you get an audience every so many months, and anything that comes up in the meantime is an inconvenience. Don’t be that person who needs a refill before your next appointment.

Just today, I spent three hours on the phone trying to coordinate a purchase of internet service with a new phone system. I got the whole enchilada – labyrinthine answering services, Hell’s Yells music on hold, pass-offs to another department with redux of all the above. One company’s system or protocols were incompatible with another and could not complete an order (it wasn’t even a prescription).

Banks and credit card vendors are guilty, too. I interrupted filling out an order for an online clothing purchase to get a discount just for applying for their credit card. You know the ending: I never did get the clothes I was ordering. When I called to register the card, they wanted me to sign in a second time with a password. Didn’t they write it down the first time? Then security questions. When I wrote down an answer to a security question, the system said I couldn’t use a two-word answer.

I don’t need another card anyway.

Dean Minnich is a retired career journalist. He writes from Westminster.

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