So you think computers are a great invention?

In March 1997, a man living in Newton near Boston Massachusetts received a bill for his as yet unused credit card stating that he owed $0.00.
He ignored it and threw it away. In April he received another and threw that one away too. The following month the credit card Company sent him a very nasty note stating they were going to cancel his card if he didn't send them $0.00 by return of post. He called them, talked to them, they said it was a computer error and told him they'd take care of it.
The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome credit card figuring that if there were purchases on his account it would put an end to his ridiculous predicament.However, in the first store that he produced his credit card in payment for his purchases he found that his card had been canceled. He called the credit card Company who apologized for the computer error once again and said that they would take care of it.
The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now overdue. Assuming that having spoken to the credit card company only the previous day the latest bill was yet another mistake he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word and sort the problem out.
The next month he got a bill for $0.00 stating that he had 10 days to pay his account or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt.
Finally giving in he thought he would play the company at their own game and mailed them a check for $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect that he now owed the credit card company nothing at all.
A week later, the man's bank called him asking him what he was doing writing a check for $0.00. After a lengthy explanation the bank replied that the $0.00 check had caused their check processing software to fail. The bank could not now process ANY checks from ANY of their customers that day because the check for $0.00 was causing the computer to crash.
The following month the man received a letter from the credit card company claiming that his check had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a check by return of post they would be taking steps to recover the debt. The man, who had been considering buying his wife a Computer for her birthday, bought her a typewriter instead.


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They're calling it shops or "S-Commerce" and it's being rolled out in cities and towns nationwide.
"It's a real revelation," according to Malcolm Fosbury, a middleware engineer from Hillingdon. "You just walk into one of these shops and they have all sorts of things for sale."
Fosbury was particular impressed by a clothes shop he discovered while browsing in central London. "Shops seem to be the ideal medium for transactions of this type. I can actually try out a jacket and see if it fits me. Then I can visualize the way I would look if I was wearing the clothing." This is possible using a high definition 2D viewing system, or "mirror" as it has become known.
Shops, which are frequently aggregated into shopping portals, known as "high streets" or "malls", are becoming increasingly popular with the cash-rich time-poor generation of new consumers. Often located in densely populated areas people can find them extremely convenient.
And Malcolm is not alone in being impressed by shops. "Some days I just don't have the time to download huge Flash animations of rotating trainers and then wait five days for them to be delivered in the hope that they will actually fit," says Sandra Bailey, a systems analyst from Chelsea. "This way I can actually complete the transaction in real time and walk away with the goods."
Being able see whether or not shoes and clothing fit has been a real bonus for Bailey, "I used to spend my evenings boxing up gear to return. Sometimes the clothes didn't fit, sometimes they just sent the wrong stuff."
Shops have a compelling commercial story to tell too, according to Gartner Group retail analyst Carl Baker. "There are massive efficiencies in the supply chain. By concentrating distribution to a series of high volume outlets in urban centres-typically close to where people live and work-businesses can make dramatic savings in fulfillment costs. Just compare this with the wasteful practise of delivering items piecemeal to people's homes."
Furthermore, allowing consumers to receive goods when they actually want them could mean an end to the frustration of returning home to find a despatch notice telling you that your goods are waiting in a delivery depot the other side of town.
But it's not just the convenience and time-saving that appeals to Fosbury, "Visiting a shop is real relief for me. I mean as it is I spend all day in front of a computer."

(Submitted by John Hurrell)


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