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The Art of Overcomplicating
Old 12-23-2010, 11:29 AM   #1
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The Art of Overcomplicating

One more example of some of the things I see on a regular basis that makes me wonder why life has developed to become so complicated:

I applied for an AMEX card to make my life easier when I go to Costco in the following ways:
  • I do not need to worry about bringing enough cash to cover my purchases.
  • It consolidates my old old Costco membership card and the credit card into one piece of plastic.
  • I get a cash-back benefit that I do not get when using cash.
  • Other benefits include giving me a backup credit card in case my other credit card doesn't work, having the card paid by auto-debit to my checking, etc.
All fine and dandy. Life should be easier.

Then it starts.

First, I get a four-page "Getting Started" brochure followed by an eight-page small-print "Cardmember Agreement." Then I receive a one-page supplement to that agreement. A few days later I receive a two-page summary of the four-page "Getting Started" brochure I had previously received. Five days ago I received a three-page "Important Information" (page two of that report stating "this page intentionally left blank") along with another "Cardmember Agreement" comprising of two parts. The first part of the agreement being two pages long with part two of the agreement being nine pages long. Only five days later I receive another three-page "Important Information" report followed this time by another "Cardmember Agreement" made up of two parts. Part one being four pages long and part two being seven pages long.

Really, does a credit card need to be this complicated
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:32 AM   #2
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Most people don't look at all that stuff. File and forget.
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:41 AM   #3
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That's hysterical. "Getting Started" just kills me.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:13 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by retire@40 View Post
One more example of some of the things I see on a regular basis that makes me wonder why life has developed to become so complicated:

I applied for an AMEX card to make my life easier when I go to Costco in the following ways:
  • I do not need to worry about bringing enough cash to cover my purchases.
  • It consolidates my old old Costco membership card and the credit card into one piece of plastic.
  • I get a cash-back benefit that I do not get when using cash.
  • Other benefits include giving me a backup credit card in case my other credit card doesn't work, having the card paid by auto-debit to my checking, etc.
All fine and dandy. Life should be easier.

Then it starts.

First, I get a four-page "Getting Started" brochure followed by an eight-page small-print "Cardmember Agreement." Then I receive a one-page supplement to that agreement. A few days later I receive a two-page summary of the four-page "Getting Started" brochure I had previously received. Five days ago I received a three-page "Important Information" (page two of that report stating "this page intentionally left blank") along with another "Cardmember Agreement" comprising of two parts. The first part of the agreement being two pages long with part two of the agreement being nine pages long. Only five days later I receive another three-page "Important Information" report followed this time by another "Cardmember Agreement" made up of two parts. Part one being four pages long and part two being seven pages long.

Really, does a credit card need to be this complicated
This suggests an interesting project for a retired lawyer or credit card exec. Build a free website which sorts this stuff into "important" and "not so important" and restates everything in plain language.
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:22 PM   #5
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... That makes me wonder why life has developed to become so complicated:
complicated.JPG
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Old 12-23-2010, 12:34 PM   #6
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Most people don't look at all that stuff. File and forget.
Yeah, easier said than done; it fries my cookies that you have to sign off claiming to have read it all.

I popped for another electronic gadget recently and spent hours going thru all the hoops, even missed the FedEx guy and stupidly waited for him the next day. Tried everything to get it onto my home wifi system, hours and hours later found a simple way to change the system's password--the slim troubleshooting section made it much too complicated and didn't work. Um, iPad next? Maybe.
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Old 12-23-2010, 01:50 PM   #7
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--the slim troubleshooting section made it much too complicated and didn't work. Um, iPad next? Maybe.
Well, I've just been setting up an iPad that the family bought for my M&FIL. They were just going to give it to them, but I said, wait a minute, I thought I read that it needs to be set up, and anyhow, we should learn how to use it so we can show them.

Plug it in and it is a brick - you can't do anything at all, you can't get past the first "connect to iTunes" screen until you connect it to iTunes and go through a registration. Registration isn't rocket science, but it takes a few steps, and I had to google to find out how to do it w/o giving Apple your CC #. Oh, and their computer is too old to support the version of iTunes that is needed to support the iPad - so that's another reason we need to set it up.

here's the link for no CC:

Create an iTunes Account without a credit card - How-To Geek


Here's the really odd thing - there is no 'help' or user guide on the iPad! They point you to a web page to read the on-line manual. Well, you have to know how to get to the settings and set up wireless and how to use Safari before you can do this - a real Catch-22.

What they really need is an app that comes up and walks you through using the touch screen and how to get to programs and such. Most of it is very intuitive to someone like me, but there were a few things that had me scratching my head, and I can guarantee that my MIL would just give up with frustration. After playing with it for a few days, and googling along the way to figure a few things out, I finally got to the manual and learned a few things I never would have known by just poking around (press HOME twice quickly to bring up 'multi-task ' and 'screen orientation lock'? Yeah, that's really intuitive!).

On one hand, this thing is totally amazing and awesome. It is really incredible. But some of these gaps are just strange.


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Old 12-23-2010, 02:13 PM   #8
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I just set up an iPad, too. I did get hung up on several steps, but made it through. For one thing, once I had it connected to my wife's MS Windows computer, I didn't know whether to use the iTunes on the iPad (wrong) or the iTunes on the Windows system (right, as it turns out). And I didn't know exactly how to invoke the right iTunes option (I never used iTunes before). Then, I made a minor typo in typing in the passkey for my local wifi network, and it took a while to find the error.

I haven't used the iPad enough yet to have an opinion about it.

I don't think Apple could reasonably be accused of making the initialization procedure overly complicated -- just hard.
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Old 12-23-2010, 03:13 PM   #9
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it fries my cookies that you have to sign off claiming to have read it all.
gotta remember that phrase.

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Most people don't look at all that stuff. File and forget.
I agree, even the people who are supposed to read the fine print don't - hence the debacle over the wrong foreclosures.

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Originally Posted by retire@40 View Post
Really, does a credit card need to be this complicated
It's the same when you buy a $1 song from iTunes - have you seen the pages and pages of terms and conditions you have to agree to before you can spend your dollar.
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Old 12-23-2010, 03:16 PM   #10
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Not sure how this hread got onto IPAD's but the CC stuff is just them covering their you know what's. Don't worry about it. We have multiple cards and I have never read that stuff. Couldn't understand it if I did and I was a Bank exec. Never had a problem. As far as IPAD's are concerned I love mine. Use it much more than my computer. Didn't have any problem setting it up. There is a guide app which works pretty well. I read my newspaper on it every day anywhere in the world. Fantastic.
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Old 12-24-2010, 09:50 AM   #11
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Isn't complaining about how complicated life has gotten (as compared to them good ole days) just another sign of turning into an old fart?
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Old 12-24-2010, 10:06 AM   #12
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Isn't complaining about how complicated life has gotten (as compared to them good ole days) just another sign of turning into an old fart?


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Old 12-24-2010, 10:32 AM   #13
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Don't forget to read and respond to the opt-out stuff. Otherwise you're probably going to get a lot of solicitations. I keep an "opt-out" file for this purpose.

We dropped Costco last year. No need to pay $50 when we can get better pricing on Amazon and shopping around. Costco might be great for large families who eat a lot.

Got the AMEX blue card in its place but probably won't use it much. It's good for car rentals since they provide free insurance that would cover our insurance company's deductable. We use the Schwab 1 (now FIA) card with 2% cash back on everything.
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Old 12-24-2010, 10:58 AM   #14
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Isn't complaining about how complicated life has gotten (as compared to them good ole days) just another sign of turning into an old fart?
It depends. When something is unnecessarily complex, that is a valid issue, and one that technology should be fixing. No time for examples, but I'm sure we could all think of many.

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Old 12-24-2010, 11:04 AM   #15
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It depends. When something is unnecessarily complex, that is a valid issue, and one that technology should be fixing. No time for examples, but I'm sure we could all think of many.
But it's different situation for different people. I got DW's iPad up and had her using it inside of 15 minutes - and she's a luddite.

Is the difference in our experiences due to relative old-fartiness? Or just familiarity with the device?
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Old 12-24-2010, 11:14 AM   #16
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But it's different situation for different people. I got DW's iPad up and had her using it inside of 15 minutes - and she's a luddite.

Is the difference in our experiences due to relative old-fartiness? Or just familiarity with the device?
I don't doubt most could get set it up in 15 minutes. Mine was a bit more complicated in that I was setting it up for someone else, I wanted to create a new account for them, didn't want them to know about it yet, didn't want to enter a CC#, and we already have an account for DW iPod Touch. So I had to make sure things didn't get crossed. And I was also trying to get it logged into a second wireless network that I was going to take to MIL so I could check that out here, ahead of time.


But I still think the iPad overcomplicated things by not having a user guide pop up when you start it. It should be easy enough for a novice to do easily, and it isn't as easy as it could/should be.

edit/add: I'll also add that I was trying to look at this from my MIL's perspective - what if someone just gave her one, w/o setting it up ahead of time? Could she do it? No. But will she be able to use it? Yes. So I think there is a gap there that Apple should address. Why not a guided tour to set it up, rather than just "connect to iTunes"? IOW, maybe it's not 'bad', but it certainly could be better.

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Old 12-24-2010, 11:30 AM   #17
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...(snip)...
But I still think the iPad overcomplicated things by not having a user guide pop up when you start it. It should be easy enough for a novice to do easily, and it isn't as easy as it could/should be.
...
I agree, might be an Apple issue. Some years ago I got a Nano as a gift. Ran into the same kind of thing. Somebody forgot the out-of-box checklist.

Itunes appears to be just a way to force users into entering their virtual store to buy stuff. Once the Nano lost all the CD's I had downloaded into it. I think this was an Itune's bug. Didn't want to go through the loading hassle again. The Nano's in my drawer. Itunes is history on our PC's.

Maybe it's just my anti-Apple bias. Don't like to contribute to Steve Jobs and resent the high Apple PC pricing.
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Old 12-24-2010, 12:36 PM   #18
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We dropped Costco last year. No need to pay $50 when we can get better pricing on Amazon and shopping around. Costco might be great for large families who eat a lot.
I'm not so sure about that. I use Costco to stock the freezer. The cost of gas at a Costco station is worth the $50 -- it's cheaper per gallon than the lowest cost station around. The Fred Meyer stores (Kroger chain) offer a 10 cent/gallon discount at their stations or Shell stations -- turns out Costco is still cheaper.

YMMV.

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Old 12-24-2010, 01:09 PM   #19
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It depends. When something is unnecessarily complex, that is a valid issue, and one that technology should be fixing. No time for examples, but I'm sure we could all think of many.

-ERD50
Nope - the leap to the generalization that life is much more complicated nowadays is a separate issue from the specific technological hurdle.
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Old 12-24-2010, 01:53 PM   #20
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I'm not so sure about that. I use Costco to stock the freezer. The cost of gas at a Costco station is worth the $50 -- it's cheaper per gallon than the lowest cost station around. The Fred Meyer stores (Kroger chain) offer a 10 cent/gallon discount at their stations or Shell stations -- turns out Costco is still cheaper.

YMMV.

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We got the Executive membership this year ($100) which they promise to refund back to the regular cost if you don't make more. I think I'm way ahead. I buy tons of food - and other stuff - at Costco. I don't read any of the crap they send me on any cards. I pay them off each month in full. AMEX doubles the manufacturer's warranty (I think it adds up to a year) on things bought with that card so I use it most of the time (plus get 1 - 3% off by using the Costco Amex True Earnings (?) card). Free Amex card...

I hate to sound like an ad for Costco but they really do pay attention to quality.
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