Beware the virtues of a paperless world

Mike KnaakColumn, Opinion, Print Editions, Print Sartell - St. Stephen, Print St. Joseph0 Comments

The paperless society is truly here and I enthusiastically embrace it.

No more paper tickets, bills or checks.

Manage your finances, indeed your entire life, with a click of a mouse or with a tap on a smartphone.

It sounds great and it works like magic…until it doesn’t. Then we are victims to an electronic high-tech hell.

Multiple digital failures on a day when we just wanted to eat and watch baseball left me longing for the old world of paper.

My spouse and I have been Twins season-ticket holders for years and for the past several years, we’ve purchased the team’s Flex Plan, which offers a bank of tickets to use when and how you wish.

With the Flex Plan, fans access their “tickets” in a mobile format only available via the Ballpark app. Along with the tickets, fans also receive a 10-percent discount on food and merchandise, also activated by a code on the Ballpark app or by scanning a barcode on a plastic card.

When it’s time for the game, the fan opens the digital ticket with a barcode on a smartphone and it’s scanned for entry to the game.

That’s where my trouble began. At a recent game, we passed through the metal detector and the ticket taker tried to scan my phone for our two tickets.

No deal. The scanner couldn’t see the code. The ticket guy tried several more scans, twisting and angling the scanner and my phone to get just the right shot at the bar code. Meanwhile, the line of other fans stacked up behind us. Finally, he asked another official to help. He entered the number manually on the scanner and it worked.

We had the same issue with digital tickets several times last year. The ticket taker said the scanner was too sensitive to sunlight so the ticket needed to be in the shade and scanned at just the right angle. I had hoped the Twins had improved their technology before this season because the sun often shines at baseball games.

At last we were in the park and it was time to find some food.

We like Kramarczuk’s Polish sausage and bratwurst. After ordering, my spouse tried to pay with her credit card, but the chip reader said her account was invalid. So, I tried with my debit card. That didn’t work either. Obviously, the chip card reader was broken. I offered to pay cash, but the server wasn’t able to read my discount card either. Not being able to take advantage of a 10-percent discount for more than $20 worth of food didn’t cut it. Still hungry, we moved on to another food stand with functioning technology.

The digital disaster at the baseball game followed a day when I wrestled with the old technology of paper checks. I write maybe 10 checks a year and I needed to pay a business that didn’t offer online payments. Opening my dusty checkbook I found I was out of checks. Now I couldn’t find my stash of blank checks. It had been so long since I last needed a new pad, I thought I was out of them and needed to order some more. After some research and digging, I did indeed have more blank checks….last ordered more than four years ago.

Back at Target Field, the game ended with a Twins victory. As we left our seats and headed for the exit, I noticed the Kramarczuk’s worker and two Target Field staffers gathered around the offending digital payment technology, trying to get it to work. At that point, I’ll bet the old world of paper looked pretty attractive to them too.

Author: Mike Knaak

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