Friday, October 22, 2010

Village of Experts, Worldwide Fools

Only after 30 concentrated and fruitless hours did I figure out my problem. In the age of the internet (excuse the triteness), the only age I've ever known, a certain faction of my generation has become too self-reliant. You probably expect to be able to find out everything you want about anything you want just by googling it hard enough. Then you probably figure you can save money by ordering it online from eBay or Amazon. I know I do. Heaven forbid if I ever have to pick up the phone, bother a real live person, and take up their precious time.

I do all my vain googling in spite of the fact that I'm an adamant opposer of people trying to play locksmith themselves. I get mad everytime they call The Key Guy after they've mail-ordered their cheap "defiant" locks and non-functioning "made in China" transponder keys. There are invariably problems. "You should have called us first!," I usually scold, "we could have sold you the real brand-name version of this key for less than what you paid for the knockoff!"

Yet I'm guilty of spending 30 hours looking for a product or a company or something, anything that could give me a non-bank-breaking, non-subscription-based auto attendant. (That's the phone thing whose claim to fame is "Press 1 for the locksmith, Press 2 for . . . ) I should tell you that I finally picked up the phone and called a local company who couldn't help me, but who gave me the websites of 3 other local companies who could. Doh!

Need another example? A friend of mine once lost his copy of a university laboratory key. The university was going to charge him $1000 to re-key the entire laboratory because of the risk of someone finding the key. Needless to say, he scoured the internet and decided to buy an entire box of key blanks that he hoped were the same, then file one key down himself to prevent anyone finding out he'd lost the original. He could have just gone to a local locksmith and had them duplicate his friend's key for a few dollars, but instead he became a novice expert in key googling and probably has a box of key blanks sitting around his apartment. I'm still not sure how he replicated the "Do Not Duplicate" stamp or the numbers imprinted on the key. Those stamps cost several hundred dollars. He could have just called a locksmith right there in his city . . . but no.

The next time you have a problem, what if you just picked up the phone and asked an expert? I keep telling myself that.

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