Twas the day before New Year’s 2015, and I ventured out to fulfill a Christmas gift request. As the technology go-to person in our family, I had gifted to my husband a phone upgrade, complete with digital upload. While my tech savvy skills are limited, I have more patience with learning tech than does my husband. His request, he wanted an iPhone (simply because that’s what he has now) with a one level upgrade. He had researched our wireless plan to base his request. Starting mid-morning at the wireless store, I give them A++ for sharing that my best bet would be to purchase the phone at another retail store. They shared there was a sale on at the store, and it would save me at least $150. Okay, though little did I know that with the extra time involved I would probably pay more in gas and time spent.

I arrived at the retailer, which was a short walk across the street. First bad news – they didn’t have the phone in stock anymore due to the high volume being purchased. However, don’t worry, I could purchase it online. This I did in the store using my iPhone. The clerk was very helpful to ensure I got the right specifications. After ordering, it detailed that because the phone had to be activated I would have to pick it up in the store. However, the store where it was available was a 45-minute drive from my house. You’ve got to be kidding was my remark! My second remark, can’t they ship it to your store? The answer was no, because it was a sale item. This should have been my choice point – go back to Verizon and spend the extra money.

But no, dutiful wife wanting to save some money, decided that I had some other shopping and would make the best of my drive listening to Christmas carols. While in route, I received an email that my order was having difficulty being processed and could I please call the store. So I did, and learned they didn’t have any more phones. They did however have an “open box” phone, was I interested? Being ten minutes from the store, I decided to discuss in person. What I discovered upon my arrival, open box means a customer had purchased the phone, decided not to keep the phone, and returned it to the store. I was assured the phone was fine, and even provided a $50 coupon to help defray costs. Of course they couldn’t issue coupon because their staff was leaving early, but I would be sent it via email. I’m still waiting! The clerk, who was very nice, spent the next hour trying to get the phone connected to the Verizon system, not easy because it appeared like it was already signed up. She then wrangled with the computer to enter a code that would accept the purchase, since it appeared like it was already sold. After two sales clerks and a manager tried, a Geek Squad representative (noticeable by his yellow hat with Geek Squad emblazoned) was dispatched to override the system.

Did I get the phone, Yes. Should I have paid the extra cost at Verizon – Yes. The reality is that what I saved in dollars I spent in my time, gas, wear and tear on the car, and a headache to start 2015. So what did learn?

  • While technology can solve many problems, it creates a level of frustration and complexity that each of us as human beings has to navigate. 
  • All the retail clerks I met along the journey were very nice and tried to be helpful. The difficulty is that no one was fully equipped to handle complex problem solving and customer demands. 
  • Saving a few dollars on one end, does not necessarily mean you are saving for the whole deal. Consider all of the consequences.
  • Once you make a decision, realize that you may need to adjust your choice based on new data received.
  • And finally, there is a interesting dilemma that needs to be reconciled between the need for technology to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and the need for human thinking and action to be able to override when problems arise.