Service of Upgrades that Are and Aren’t

October 29th, 2018

Categories: Apps, Automobiles, Mobile Phones, Post Office, Rail Travel, Technology, Upgrades

Shiny Apple

Some upgrades are amazing. Apple gave my iPhone 6 a new lease on life with a recent upgrade that allows it to act pretty much like one of its pricey new phones. I read that this was the latest marketing strategy for the company that formerly encouraged customers to upgrade frequently.

Even so, hearing the word “upgrade” these days sends shivers my way and, in my experience, for good reason.

No Service Self Service

Have you tried the new USPS self service mailing machines? They don’t work. I don’t mean they are complicated—they literally don’t function and the old ones worked like a charm.

I tried to use several at the Grand Central post office on different days and at a satellite office with no employees. The former wouldn’t respond to light or heavy finger touches by me and countless others who ended up behind me on line for a clerk; the scale didn’t work in the latter which was problematic because I had a package to mail.

Exploding Devices

Last week almost 3,000 new body cam devices were pulled from use by the NYC police department. Why? One exploded.

Out of Order Train App & Info Man

The Metro-North app. “TrainTime” has issues. I couldn’t link from the TrainTime app to the specifics about substitute busses for trains I usually take so I stopped in at Grand Central Station’s customer service desk. The link was dead last Friday. The attendant explained that Metro-North needs to upgrade the app. He also misinformed me about the bus situation. Fortunately, another staffer set him—and me—straight. His excuse: “I just got to the desk.”

Not My Car

General Motors emailed to tell me that my 2016 Chevrolet has a soft tire and to bring the car in for service. I knew this had to do with the 2016 we turned in for a 2018 earlier this year because that car always had tire issues. So I informed the dealership, from which we’ve bought and leased cars for 20 years, that GM needs to update its records. When we first dealt with the dealership our salesman took care of everything and there was never a hiccup. Since then it has upgraded with specialists in various areas of the business. This is the second such glitch we’ve encountered since we leased the 2018 model so the specialists aren’t clicking our info in all the right places.

Does the word “upgrade” excite you or make you anxious? Was it always thus? Have you encountered either super or dismal results from a recent upgrade?

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6 Responses to “Service of Upgrades that Are and Aren’t”

  1. Martha Takayama Said:

    I have to confess that I often am intimidated or nervous from any invitation to upgrade or any notices regarding upgrades that are being put in place. In my experience they are always computer or electronics related. My skills in these areas are negligible verging on non-existent. The possibility that the message or invitation is a fraud or a hacking attempt also frighten me. I just was bowled over today by updating that Firefox did that left me with a ton of unanswered questions. I have gotten phone upgrades, sometimes myself or at the Apple store. I don’t seem to have been much impressed by upgrades in other areas. Living in Boston the concept of any upgrade relating to mass transportation remains a fantasy. Basically I think that whether it is our landlines, electronic banking service, customer service and exchanges with people, upgrades remain a myth removed from real life, and without any substance in our very troubled inefficient backward-looking society.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Just returned from a visit to Verizon. Among a list of questions I had was a verification that a legitimate looking email relating to my business phone was real. The tech person told me it was NOT from them. You cannot be too careful.

    The one Apple upgrade that backfired the company made good on sort of by charging half price for a new battery because the upgrade destroyed the original one. I was irritated that I had to pay anything, as I wrote in a previous post, as before their mistake I was fine with the battery I had.

    I don’t understand the urge to change something that works perfectly well–in the postal service example. There are plenty of other places the crucial yet floundering service could spend its money.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    I tend to avoid upgrades, since many are designed to relieve the shopper of his assets. However, if one looks appealing and appears to make sense, why not try? Honest sellers exist. The challenge is to find them!

  4. Protius Said:

    Forgive me if the cynic in me comes forward, but I’ve found that the vast majority of so called “upgrades” which generous suppliers have bestowed upon me over time, have had one fundamental purpose in common. They reduce the supplier’s cost basis by shifting some element of the service’s delivery process from vendor to consumer.

    When I was young we had one telephone and it occasionally broke down. Now we have multiple telephone lines and they occasionally break down. What is different? Then if the phone didn’t work, it was no big deal, you just called that monopoly, “Ma Bell,” and somebody promptly came to fix it. (An added benefit was that the phone company even had operators you could call for help if you forgot something like a telephone number.) Now, getting somebody to fix a phone requires lengthy negotiations with talking machines in India or somewhere like that, or in extremis, the assistance of political “muscle” by our congresswoman’s office in Washington and, whichever way, is an intensely complicated and time wasting ordeal. Furthermore, the idea of being able to call our operator for help is just a fraying wisp of a memory.

    This is but one example of modern customer service, but I believe it to be typical of what one can expect these days.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    That’s some challenge. One way is to ask friends and colleagues what experience they’ve had with thus and such an upgrade. You can also Google “reviews of XYZ upgrade,” and see what you get. In the latter case, taking the advice of strangers with potential axes to grind means having grains of salt handy.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I find Google works better than operators in many cases. Take a restaurant that’s called Le Coq D’or. Tell an operator in the day the words you remember–Coq D’or most likely–and leave off the Le, and you’re out of luck. On Google, you’d find it.

    The phone fix is another matter and I fully agree with you. We’ve been weeks without a landline regardless of follow up pleas. This never happened in the Ma Bell days.

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