"Conveniences, Or Are They?"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, October 4, 2014

All of today’s conveniences are not what they claim to be.

Cable service, for example: The providers offer cable TV, Internet and even telephone service. Other companies also offer package services.

If you accept a package setup of services, you can receive extra bonuses. One is very unique; if you’re deeply engrossed in a TV program or movie and your phone rings, the number and name of the caller is displayed on your TV screen.

The call may be very important, but if you don’t want to be interrupted, you can choose to call them back later. If you remember that is. However, the number will be stored in your phone so you can recall it and you will receive it on your email.

This bonus feature sounds great, the combination of phone and TV. A major drawback to the deal is, if one fails —TV, Internet or phone, they all go out. You better hope your cell phone is handy and charged and a tower is not down, because you cannot report your failure and request assistance.

Another great convenience is offered by almost every provider: auto pay. If you set it up, the bill goes to your financial institution electronically and the amount is withdrawn from your account and submitted to the company requesting payment. This can work well until you experience an error in the billing or a credit is issued against a billing. Your financial institute cannot refund a billing error and if a credit is issued it may take until the next billing cycle to show up. Errors made by companies are never the fault of a billing person — the computer is always the one that did it. I remember reading somewhere that a computer is never smarter than the person operating it. I think this was before “Watson” debuted on Jeopardy.

The ability to pump your own gas and go can save time but this convenience can be costly because it eliminates the opportunity to check your oil occasionally. You probably skip cleaning your windshield or being sure you have fluid in the washer also. You will regret these actions after you follow a beet truck down a muddy road; no washer fluid, no visibility.

Who ever checks their tire pressure? It can be difficult to find an air hose. I heard someone complain about a red light flashing on the dash and the car getting real noisy. They tried to drive the car home but didn’t make it. The engine over-heated, seized up and quit. After it was replaced, it was learned the radiator was leaking.

We all know it’s quicker to send a message via email than to write a snail note, and that’s OK if you don’t mind sharing your message with the world. Social media of all types are another quickie way to communicate, but often a person regrets taking this avenue.

Another convenience we men and many women enjoy are battery operated tools. You don’t have to find an extension cord or plug for power, just push the button and it runs — or not. When the battery goes dead, at the worst times usually, you locate the extra one (most tools come with a charger and additional battery).

Take notice: Do not leave a Lithium battery in a charger and forget it and have it over-charge. They have been identified as the cause of many fires.

A fairly new convenience is the battery-operated thermostat that replaced the old mercury thermo controls. Don’t forget these new, fancy thermostats that can be set to adjust run times, are battery powered. If you go on vacation or leave for the winter, your heat may go out if the temperature drops drastically. You could experience damage to water lines, plumbing fixtures or worse; flooding could occur.

A great addition to our modern refrigerators is the popular ice maker. Sad to say, they are installed with plastic hoses so it would be a good move to replace the hose with copper line. It will not decompose or crack, which happens during periods of non-use and cold temperatures in your home. One experience with this event will teach you because the repair is major.

Many of our modern conveniences also are major problem creators. Instead of being the cost savers they proclaim to be, they can cause very expensive repairs. Make sure you are not accepting a small convenience that could result in a large expense.

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