I read in the paper about a mobile app that would let you make lists that you could update from your phone or tablet and share with your nearest and dearest, so that when you thought of something needing doing, like Buy more cornflakes, or Book cats into vet for vaccinations, you could add it to the list at that moment, and whoever next happened to be in a suitable shop could buy the necessaries instead of getting home and being told, Oh if I'd known you were going to the supermarket I'd have asked you to buy cornflakes. For a moment it almost seemed like a good idea, but the Systems Administrator objected that then he would have to take his phone with him to the shops.
Our current system is lower tech. On my desk is a small box of old pages torn from my page-a-day Zen desk calendar, and we pin one to the board in the hall, with a pencil propped on top. When either of us notices that we are running out of cornflakes, or sunflower oil, or cat biscuits, we write it on the list. Whoever is going shopping takes the list with them. Then we start again with a new list. The system only breaks down if we forget the list, or if anything on the list is out of stock, in which case we need to remember to transfer it to the new Zen page. But with the app based system we would have to go through the list deleting things when we bought them, at least until such a time as the app can seamlessly interface with the supermarket till receipt, which will no doubt come. Going through the app each time you went shopping deleting the things you'd just bought, particularly if the list was all mixed up with reminders to book the cats into the vet or arrange to have the boiler serviced, would surely take ages. The SA said yes, but people had to have something to do while they were drinking their six pound cups of artisanal coffee in their bicycle repair cafes.
Using mobile technology seems to take ages as it is. I got a text today to say that my phone bill was ready, which this month would come to £12.82. That was nearly a third more than I was expecting so I logged into my account and found that my tariff had risen without explanation. The next twenty minutes were spent in an online dialogue with somebody whose approach to answering the question of why has it gone up so much? was to repeat back what I'd just told them as a question, and I began to feel as if I might be dealing with Dead Ringers' version of Hilary Mantel. You say that you took this mobile phone contract out in the past? After being told that my Loyalty Bonus had expired, the first I'd heard about even having a Loyalty Bonus, and then that I had upgraded my phone the previous day, news to me since I hadn't been in contact with O2 at all, I gave up and rang to speak to a human being instead.
The human being insisted that I had had a Loyalty Bonus in operation, it was just that the sales person in Colchester must have failed to tell me about it when I bought the phone, and that if I texted LOYALTY in upper case letters to the number he gave me it would probably be reinstated. After I grumbled a bit about how this was no way to treat a loyal customer, and why had they taken it away when I more loyal now than I was last year when I bought the phone, he said that I could have the same package of texts, minutes and data for £7.50 a month which would be less than the £9.82 I had been paying before the expiry of the Loyalty Bonus. And that he would credit ten pounds to my account to make up for the aggravation. Then I spoke to another human being in sales, who said they could give me the same package for ten pounds a month. When I said that the previous human being had just said seven pounds fifty, he countered with six, with no Loyalty Bonus included so it would not jump in twelve months time, merely rise in line with inflation.
I settled for six, but I despair of UK business, or rather the mobile industry in general since my supplier is actually a subsidiary of Telefonica. They could have kept me on £9.82 plus inflationary increases if they'd left me alone. If they'd told me in advance I needed to text LOYALTY to them I'd probably have sighed and done it, and they'd still have had me on £9.82. Now they've bothered me enough to spend three quarters of an hour thinking about my phone contract they have me on six pounds a month which is less than two thirds of what they were getting before. I suppose they rely on all the people who don't bother to look at their monthly bill or can't be bothered to query it, but it seems a mad way of doing business.