I’m finally participating in online banking. I pay bills online and save the cost of postage. A side benefit is the ability to schedule the date of payment and coordinate when it will be deducted from my checking account. I no longer receive paper statements, instead opting for online statement delivery. It’s pretty slick; except when the web site is down and I can’t access my account. Admittedly, this is a rare occurrence, but when it does occur, and it does from time to time; it’s very annoying.

A couple of weeks ago, I needed to rent a pickup truck. So on a Thursday morning I went to U-Haul’s web site, put in my information including the fact that I wanted to pick the truck up two days later on Saturday morning. I received an immediate reservation email which said someone would call me back within an hour to confirm, and someone did. I went in Saturday to pick the truck up and as they were completing the paperwork and getting the key, another individual came in to ask about renting a truck. They were all booked up and didn’t have any available. I commented to the U-Haul employee that I reserved my rental through the web and got a call back to confirm; that it was nice and I appreciated the convenience. His reply was, “Yeah, it’s pretty slick when it works.” I didn’t realize, not being in the habit of doing of lot of renting, that it would not work.

I have a Flickr photo sharing account and ordered some prints this weekend, designating the local Target store as the place where I would like to pick them up. The web site said the photo department at Target opens at 9:00 and that the photos would be ready in one hour. I had some errands to do and arrived at Target three hours later to pick up my photos. Unfortunately, their photo processor was out for the day and my pictures would not be ready until the following day. I remembered the U-Haul rep’s comment, “It’s pretty slick when it works.” The problem is, people are involved, not just computers. Computers can do their bit, but then people have to carry out their part to make it look “slick”.

The U-Haul rep’s comment is applicable to many things about the online age, and it also a warning. Whether it’s Internet Explorer, Windows Vista, wireless networking, cell phones, cd’s you burned, online banking, online reservations, etc. It’s pretty slick, when it works. The warning being the fact that you should always have a back up plan, and don’t be overly surprised if the online processes don’t work like you expect.

It even applies to my blogging software, which I have been through several frustrations with. It’s pretty slick, when it works.