Friday, September 18, 2009

Ain’t We Great, We’re Going Paperless

By Pat Gulley

All good things are Green these days. If you want to feel good about yourself do something Green. Just let something be advertised as Green, and you feel very good about buying it or using it. People seem to want to do the right thing and ‘Save The Earth’ (ah yeah, but I don’t think the earth needs saving from us-BUT that’s another story) do the Green thing and eliminating something from your lives. Seeing this, a lot of companies have decided to help you out with that, and ‘eliminate’ something they provide to you. Unfortunately, all too often it is service. But it is couched in something else that sounds good upon first hearing it. The paper elimination thing is one of the biggies when it comes to this kind of legerdemain.

My recent experience.

At the end of September, I’m heading out to do a thirteen-day cruise with a friend that will take us from Quebec City to New York. We had to get permission to get off in New York—the cruise line wanted us to stay on until Fort Lauderdale. No difference in cost, no help getting off in New York, and no refund for the unused two days. Okay, we agreed. A week ago we started wondering where our documents were. (The cruise tickets, which should include vouchers for a hotel package in Quebec City—airport to hotel transfers, hotel accommodations, transfers from the hotel to ship—a voucher for each of the shore excursions we prebooked and paid for, baggage tags and buttons to wear for ID during the cruise. Previously, these items were nicely enclosed in a leather looking plastic envelop and had a detailed cruise itinerary and the booking contract included. Our travel agent would add several other items of interest, like a brochure for the hotel we booked, and/or a brochure about a few of the ports we were stopping in.

So shock of shocks when we got an email (no, not a personal phone call—heck I used to be a TA, I knew exactly what my first reaction would be) telling us that our cruise was the first for the line to go paperless!

Uh-huh. Okay, the paperless part didn’t hit me first, it was that we were the first to try the ‘great greening’ of the cruise line. I mean, I personally can’t wait for tours to start to the Moon or Mars, but I’m here to tell you, I’m not going to be on the first boat out!!! Someone else can check for glitches. But here we are, going to be the glitch checkers.

So, on line we go to print our own documents. First out was a cruise ticket dated the day we boarded the ship with nothing for date of arrival and the hotel stay. Long waits finally informed us that we were manifested for the airport to hotel and hotel stay. Manifested with whom, we asked. A few days later we learned that the cruise line still wasn’t sure who would pick us up at the airport—themselves or the hotel—but one of them for sure and the hotel had us ‘manifested’. Can you guess the next question? Absolutely! What if no one is there to pick us up?

Answer: Call the hotel.

NOT!!!!! This is when a long talk with our TA resulted in our reminding her that we were both retired travel agents, and just who did they think they were trying to play slight of hand with? I can’t image her forgetting, she once worked with me and I was a real------well never mind that part.

So, okay, we got things straightened out, the cruise line WILL have a host at the airport until midnight and we printed out another itinerary from the cruise line with the hotel night showing and it had our booking number referenced. However if our airline is late, we’re on our own. And it means that I have to travel with what looks like two chapters of a novel in paper recording everything sent by email verifying all this besides the original and minimal documents in case something goes wrong. Turned out the shore excursions were a separate printout, showing an additional booking number with a request that we print it out and carry with us.

Oh sure, they’ve gone paperless, but we had better start watching for sales at Staples for cases of paper. And while I’m b----ing, who needs the extra weight of this paper on planes what with the airlines charging for checked luggage and dropping the poundage from 65 to 50? Well Air Canada did anyway, and they aren’t charging for one checked bag, but United may not have but they do have a checked bag charge. And who do you think has to look all this up and print it out to remember?

Gosh, I don’t have a question for you about writing. Well, stay tooned (yes, I know it is spelled ‘tuned’, but after reading the above doesn’t the other spelling seem appropriate) and hopefully my next blog will speak wonders of the trip.

Oh, hey, a question. Have you been involved in any other kind of corporate legerdemain worth mentioning?


Annette said...

I have mixed feelings about the new paperless world. First, I'm not crazy about paperless newsletters. I've come to realize I don't read them "cover to cover" like I do the ones I hold in my hand and as a result, I miss stuff.

On the other side, I don't miss all the junk mail that no longer fills my mailbox...although I strongly suspect the weak economy has more to do with the decrease in promotional mailings than any efforts at saving a tree.

Joyce said...

I still get way too much paper junk mail. The one that really annoys me is JC Penney. Twice a week I get one or more of their paper ads in my mailbox. I don't shop at Penney's. The ads go directly in the trash, along with the ones for mattresses, furniture, and five different grocery stores.

Seems to me the companies that should be going paperless aren't.

I have to say, though, that I love online banking and bill paying. We don't write many checks anymore.

Have a nice trip, Pat!

Jennie Bentley said...

"Seems to me the companies that should be going paperless aren't."

Amen, sister.

And Pat, I agree, I don't think the earth needs saving from us, either. This whole green thing is bogus, IMO. Not that it isn't a good idea to recycle when we can, and cut down less trees and all that, but please, who do we think we are, in the scheme of things? God?

Karen in Ohio said...

It strikes me that it isn't really "paperless" if you have to print everything out. Seems more to be "mail-less" than anything else.

And what if you don't happen to have a computer and/or printer? My mom has both, but has messed up her email so many times she hasn't been able to read hers for two years. And she is exactly the kind of person who would take a cruise if she could.

Pat, this is a slight thing, but it's "sleight of hand".

Gina said...

I agree. Human beings don't have the present ability to destroy the Earth; we just have the ability to make it uninhabitable by us and most other known living beings. [Maybe tube worms will survive.]

queenofmean said...

Some aspects of paperless are good. I pay most of my bills online and rarely write checks, either.
I find it more difficult to read newsletters, stories & such online. Might be my old eyes, though.