No app, no entry: How the digital world is failing the non tech-savvy

Article by Andrew Anthony: “Whatever the word is for the opposite of heartwarming, it certainly applies to the story of Ruth and Peter Jaffe. The elderly couple from Ealing, west London, made headlines last week after being charged £110 by Ryanair for printing out their tickets at Stansted airport.

Even allowing for the exorbitant cost of inkjet printer ink, 55 quid for each sheet of paper is a shockingly creative example of punitive pricing.

The Jaffes, aged 79 and 80, said they had become confused on the Ryanair website and accidentally printed out their return tickets instead of their outbound ones to Bergerac. It was the kind of error anyone could make, although octogenarians, many of whom struggle with the tech demands of digitalisation, are far more likely to make it.

But as the company explained in a characteristically charmless justification of the charge: “We regret that these passengers ignored their email reminder and failed to check-in online.”…

The shiny, bright future of full computerisation looks very much like a dystopia to someone who either doesn’t understand it or have the means to access it. And almost by definition, the people who can’t access the digitalised world are seldom visible, because absence is not easy to see. What is apparent is that improved efficiency doesn’t necessarily lead to greater wellbeing.

From a technological and economic perspective, the case for removing railway station ticket offices is hard to refute. A public consultation process is under way by train operators who present the proposed closures as means of bringing “station staff closer to customers”.

The RMT union, by contrast, believes it’s a means of bringing the staff closer to unemployment and has mounted a campaign heralding the good work done by ticket offices across the network. Whatever the truth, human interaction is in danger of being undervalued in the digital landscape…(More)”.