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Technological Torment


Early in the pandemic, when everything was shut down, my iPhone decided to throw in the towel. I ordered a new one online and successfully uploaded everything from the old phone by placing them side-by-side and following the easy directions. Apparently, Apple made so many improvements in this process between 2020 and 2024 that it took me half a day to accomplish the same chore. By the time I was finished (or at least I think I’m finished) my hands were shaking and I was in tears. Granted, I am four years older, but it seems that the more technology evolves, the more challenging it becomes for people like me to perform what were once routine tasks.


My latest journey began when my phone that I upgraded less than a year ago at the AT&T store became very glitchy. It sometimes inexplicably froze for chunks of time. The battery ran down quickly. It couldn’t pick up WIFI signals. My parking app usually didn’t work. I could go on, but for a phone less than a year old, I knew I had a lemon and was entitled to a replacement. Or so I thought.


Step one involved a long call with Apple service. Generally, I find them extremely helpful, but my customer service representative had me perform a remote test, which took less than 20 seconds, and pronounced the phone fine. When I protested that the phone was far from fine, she kindly looked at Apple’s list of complaints that would qualify me for a replacement phone and selected an option that was the right answer. After agreeing to put over $1,000 on my credit card to guarantee that I would return the old phone within 10 days, she sent me a replacement. The new phone arrived in 3 days. So far, so good.


I found a YouTube video to walk me through the transfer process, followed all of the directions faithfully, and yet the data transfer never happened. Instead I saw that infamous Apple spinning wheel for over an hour with no progress being made. Time for another call to Apple. This time, the service representative spent over an hour telling me I should have seen certain screens, which I didn’t. The new phone needed an upgrade, but there was no prompt to initiate that process. Also, it was unclear if it was connected to the same WIFI as my old phone. And there was an ominous message: “Unable to activate e-sim.” Neither of my phones had a physical sim card.


After starting the process over several times and agreeing to download the back up from the cloud rather than from my old phone, I finally saw the screens that prompted me to upgrade the new phone and activate the e-sim. I have always been leery about the cloud. What is it, really? Would it have all of the data that was on my old phone? But I had no choice, so I finished the transfer and thanked my patient service rep. But I was far from finished. Now, I had to deal with AT&T.


AT&T has a very persistent automated voice system (think robot) that sent me in circles for an hour while I screamed “talk to a person.” Once the pitch of my voice reached the hysteria level, I was finally connected with an actual human being. Part of the problem was that there were three Apple IDs connected with my phone number and no way to remedy that other than entering the passwords for these accounts. I have repressed all of the things I needed to do to get my iPhone to actually function as a phone. It was just another wasted and frustrating hour.


My new phone appears to be working fine, but several of the apps were lost in translation. My hearing aids were no longer paired with the phone, but I am proud that I figured that out with some help from the Google machine. Getting my favorite weather app back killed another chunk of time. I haven’t tried more obscure apps, but I’m viewing this issue as similar to weeding out old clothing. If I don’t use them in the next year, I can probably delete them.


The final frustration was that the case I ordered for the new phone was I wrong size (my bad), and we stopped at several Fed Ex pick up spots on a Saturday to get the old phone returned to Apple within ten days, only to discover that only the Fed Ex store had weekend pick up. Oh well, just another wasted hour. Now, I have to return the too-large case to Amazon. Sigh.





by Laurie Levy
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