There are certain pieces of news that just shouldn’t be announced by text message. A relationship break up, for example. A death in the family. Your house being bulldozed to make way for a superhighway.

“Your car has been towed to Pooraka” is one such text message you never really want to receive, especially if you’re under the impression that your car is parked on South Tce in the city.

Of course, that message would have been fine if it had gone to its intended recipient on Tuesday — me, the unfortunate victim of a car crash — as opposed to mum, who nearly fainted from shock in the middle of David Jones.

This bizarre occurrence led to the discovery that at some point in the last 10 years my insurance company had replaced my phone number with my mother’s and, unbeknownst to me, had been sending her various updates about my account — including this week’s news about my banged-up car — ever since.

This news then led to the realisation that every time I had called said insurance company in the last 10 years and been made to identify myself with my mobile phone number, they clearly hadn’t been paying any attention. Some security check!

It took me three phone calls to two different departments to fix the error, in between which mum received one more text message (”Your car is now at Pooraka Crash Repair”) and a phone call (“Hi, it’s Steve from Pooraka Crash Repair”). And then it turned out my car was actually in Carisbrook.

Needless to say I have now opted out of text message notifications.

It’s just another example of how technology that’s supposed to make things easier for customers has actually made things more difficult and, in many cases, completely exasperating.

Like my mobile phone carrier which, every time I pay my bill, sends me a text message asking for “feedback on my experience”, as though I’ve just bungee jumped off a bridge or climbed Mt Kosciuszko, instead of having merely entered a credit-card number into a website and clicked a button.

Given that, like most people, I pay my phone bill every month in exactly the same way and it is a wholly unremarkable experience, I’m not exactly sure what “feedback” they expect me to have.

“The dollar amount was as expected, and the button clicked nicely as per usual”?

“I enjoyed the way my money automatically drained from my account into yours”?

Whatever their reasoning, every four weeks is far too often to give feedback on something as boring as paying a bill (the appropriate time frame for that would be “never”) so for the last three months I’ve been trying to “opt out” of these mini surveys, to no avail.

I’ve filled out several forms and had lengthy discussions with half the customer service team including Tris, Gen, Marcel, Serena, Hollie and Dave, but the text messages come regardless, relentlessly hounding me for feedback like a needy child.

Apparently getting my number removed from the list can take several months, they tell me. Several months! People have exited the mafia more easily than this.

It’s a similar story for anyone who’s ever tried to unsubscribe from an email list.

“Please allow six to eight weeks to process your request,” you’re usually told. Of course by then you’ve forgotten that you unsubscribed at all so when it fails and you inevitably start receiving emails again you don’t notice.

Customer service? For most companies, I reckon it’s more like “customers serve us”.

First published in The Advertiser, August 15, 2015. Click here to read the original article.