I was just required to fax a document to a governmental entity - there were no other options of getting this information to them. So I had to fill out a report by hand, take pictures of it with my phone, make it into a PDF, find a website that will send faxes, and then fax it to them.
To be clear this is what happened:
Mailed me a letter
Required me to fill it out by hand
Filled out the 5 page form writing zeros on each page
Googled, “how to fax documents without a fax machine”
Took pictures of the things I filled out by hand with my phone
Downloaded an app that could combine photos into a single PDF
Converted those pictures to a PDF
Uploaded it to a website
Faxed it to them (maybe, I don’t know if it actually went through).
Yeah, it is sort of unbelievable what some organization use for communication/computer technology.
I have to submit the Long Term Care Insurance claim for my mother’s assisted living expenses, every month, and the ONLY way they will accept it is by fax. It is a local Utah based insurance company, and as a technology professional, I’ve offered to help there technical people investigate other options, but they decline, apparently not wanting to be dragged, kicking and screaming into the 90’s.
To make it worse, the only manner of verifying that they have received the faxed claim form, is to make a telephone call, wait on hold for 20+ minutes to speak with someone, ask them to verify the arrival of the claim document, and I have to wait 5+ business days after the fax transmission for the system to indicate that it as been received.
The reality is that they don’t want to pay any claims, or to pay them a single day before absolutely necessary, so making it easy or efficient to submit them is not a priority.
My parents own a small trucking company. They do 5M+ per year. Neither one uses a computer. My Mom runs the books. All the accounting is done in old school bonded ledgers. She uses a typewriter for checks. The only piece of modern office equipment is a cheap copy machine. Her typewriter died about 5 years ago. She found some at a store in town. Maybe someone ordered one in for her. She bought three just in case they stop making them.
My sister helps part time and does payroll on her computer at home. She has to go into the office, get a copy of the drivers miles/hours and prints payroll.
My dad runs dispatch off of paper sheets. He called me one day in a panic because he accidently used his last sheet and could not copy more. It is literally a landscape table in a Word doc. I printed 30 out and ran them over.
I think my firm had one in our office until recently. I still get faxes–my firm still has a dedicated fax line–but all faxes now come to my computer as PDFs.
I remember the early days when we would send a confidential document to a client by fax. Usually the client was a hospital and the only fax machine they had was in the emergency department. We’d let the client know the fax was coming, then wait for the intended recipient to get to the ED and call us (from a landline phone, standing next to the fax machine), watch our document come in, then confirm to us that they had received it. Good times.
When I was a brand-new lawyer I once had extended correspondence with a lawyer in London using a teletype machine. I felt very high-tech at the time.
After my experience I was telling my kids about it and about how big and crazy awesome a fax machine was. How nuts to send a document over the phone. My kids were struggling with the need for a paper document or the notion that computers weren’t initially connected to the internet, so if you wanted to get a document to someone you had to mail it to them and then wait. Total turnaround time a week or two.
And I talked about the whole debate on whether a fax could be considered a legal document. How they first came on that heat sensitive paper roll and would eventually turn brown and become illegible.
Your parents story actually makes all the sense in the world to me and more power to them. They know how to run their business, can to it all themselves, require no complex/expensive technology (although the idea of buying three typewriters so they have some back ups makes me laugh), are not dependent upon others (outside of the family), and there is no requirement by their customers to have any additional technology.
That is a far cry from an insurance company or governmental agency willfully staying 30-40 behind the times and forcing their clients to adapt.
I’m not judging, because I am an old school kinda guy. I own 7,000 of them and listen everyday to vinyl records. But two months ago, I took two video cassette machines I owned sitting around for decades, put them on eBay and laughed all the way to the bank with $150 in my pocket.
But what you just described is why $15 per hour minimum wage does not work for so many people. The technology is there to significantly reduce costs to do business for so many folks. But some, too many business owners are old school, too busy and philosophically unwilling to change, not technologically inclined to find that value. The companies that are, they will inherit the business. And every small town in America has this issue.
We cannot change the rate of progress in technology. That is why Walmart and now the Dollar Store and so many other companies have bulldozed small town businesses.
My 10th grade high school school science teacher, biology that year, said one thing I will never forget. He told the class that year (1966), that if you knew everything there was to know in the entire world about biology, in one year, just 12 months from today you would know only 50% of what was then known. And that rate of change, he said, was going to accelerate.
At the time, I had not idea how profound that was. Now I do. And it is one of the major reasons why so many Americans can only find a job that pay $7.50 per hour. They don’t have the skills to warrant a higher wage.