Premature Announcement Syndrome

Is it just me, or are companies really having a problem dealing with technology?

For those that don’t know, I work in the technology field – and I’m not just talking about whatever residual income may flow through the site here. I’m talking about my actual “day job”, where I work on actual computers and networks and all things geeky. That mans I have a reasonable understanding of how things work.

As such, I really understand why companies want to not have to send you a piece of paper every month to explain their relationship with you. Even for for those not in the technology industry, it’s not hard – printing all those statements and delivering them to your customers is a huge expense in equipment, supplies and postage.

What I don’t get is why they are so colossally bad at making it happen.

Generally they are pretty good at this job.

You get the companies who can deliver the statement at the stroke of midnight when the billing period ends. Usually these are the ones who understand that they don’t have to actually do anything as mundane as generating a statement – they pull in the information and recreate it on demand as needed, because like a rebate, there are going to be people who simply don’t request it, and even if they do, it isn’t going to happen all at once. As such, there is no need to do it all at once. Run the process and then do the calculations as needed – and there is no need to “print” the statement to actually store an image. The image can be a template the renders the statement as needed.

Then you get the companies that still operate in the physical mode, the only difference is that they do it electronically. That means they run the end of month process and they “print” the statements, but they still store all that data. That takes up a ton of space, and they are mailing out a bunch of them – lots of them have to do this because not everyone is electronically receiving their statements. This means you won’t get your statement at the stroke of midnight, but a week or so into the next month.

Finally you get the companies who don’t have a clue. As soon as the month ends, they do one of the above tasks, and they send you an email that says your statement is ready, so you can log in and take a look. But when you do, the statement is nowhere to be found. What you see is last month’s statement (at best). I’ve had this happen twice in the last week or so.

This begs the question – if you want to take time to process the statement, fine. But if you’re going to send me an email to tell me that the statement is ready, shouldn’t it be ready? I get that some people may let the email sit around for a week before they log in, but I’m not one of those people. If I get it, I’m going to log in and look for my statement, so I don’t want to know about it until it is ready to go.

To make matters even worse, one of those companies actually tells me this month’s balance, but shows me last month’s detail. Nice.