Why Is It Actually Harder to Sign Up for Things Online? (Or: Isn’t Technology Supposed to Make Life Easier?)

  • Kristin van Ogtrop

Once upon a time, corporate America was filled with a number of wonderful benefits that no one ever talked about. Among them: You received your paycheck in the mail, and figured out raises by sitting with someone from human resources and crunching numbers on a calculator. Now both of those activities require going online and typing in a password that, chances are, you do not remember. Well, at least not if you’re me.

And health insurance. Don’t get me started. Caveat: I know I should be grateful that I have health insurance, and I am. Extremely grateful. I am also grateful that I have a job, and have very few complaints about my place of employment. However, I am not grateful that in order to sign up for health insurance, I have no choice but to do the following:

  • go to a website
  • try to remember my user name (which I have forgotten)
  • try to remember my password (ditto)
  • answer personal “hints” to help me remember my password
  • be told by the computer that my answers are incorrect; hello, do you really think I don’t remember the months my parents were born?
  • call tech support
  • get into the system; fill out half the forms
  • go to a meeting; get logged out of the system
  • curse
  • get back on system, make it most of the way through, until...
  • the life insurance part, which takes you to a different website
  • and you can’t print the confirmation form
  • and calling the number at Prudential does not help, even if the guy is really polite
  • and you feel like your hair is on fire
  • and you start repeating in your head every single curse word you know

Which is how I spent my morning. Now, my children might tell you that the whole process makes me irritated (no, make that angry…no, make that furious) because I am just a Luddite who instinctively resists anything involving technology. Really, am I the only one who misses the day when you could sign up for health insurance—sign up for anything—by actually talking to a live human being?!?!?!?!?!?