Greg Walsh


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Losing my Credit Cards and my Mind

Tuesday April 12, 2016

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

That feeling of panic struck me as I realized I had no wallet. "I must have put it down somewhere," I thought. I kept looking and looking around my office for it. Just to be clear, my office is a mess as I'm waiting to move to a new office so I keep thinking "Why bother?" I walked out into the hallway and back in the room to find it. I noticed that I had left the hallway door and my door open to walk down the hall to talk to my colleagues. My stomach sank as I realized it must have been stolen.

The police on campus constantly warn to keep doors lock as if there are thieves just waiting to pounce on an open door. Having lived in downtown Baltimore for over 15 years, I know what it is liked to be robbed. Not just bike-stolen robbed but legit pop-a-window-and-come-inside-to-steal-your-things-and-ride-off-on-your-bike robbed. This didn't feel like being robbed...or maybe I was just numb to that feeling...but only the wallet was taken. My computers, iPad, phones and numerous technology artifacts were still there. I asked my co-workers if anyone had seen anything and they insisted I call the campus police. I waited as I searched my office because I didn't want to waste their time.

Two officers came up and took a statement. I kept saying, "I don't think I was robbed." I've had my credit card duplicated several times so I immediately canceled those but I kept thinking about how hard it would be to replace my driver's license and all the other stuff in my wallet: the Icelandic money from our anniversary trip and the South Korean 1000 dollar ($1USD) bill from CHI2015.

They asked if it had any identifying marks. I said it was fat because it was filled with junk. It was a wallet my parents had given me for Christmas that had RFID protection. I didn't like it because the ant-fraud RFID protection blocked our parking garage card and transit pass. Plus it was just a fat wallet that seemed overly thick compared to my old Velcro one that I replaced.

I got down on the ground (again) and just happened to look across the room behind my filing cabinet. There was the wallet! It must have dropped and I kicked it clear across the office. I let the police know that there was no need to check cameras, everything was good.

The only problem has been the number of services I subscribe to with my now canceled card: cell phones, Tivo, Netflix, Hulu, and the list goes on. The problem is made worse when each one has a different due date and I get an announcement letting me know I am now past due (is it really necessary to use such heavy language?) or no indication and just a stoppage of service.

One of the things we teach in Designing for Humans is the ability to give users feedback when something doesn't work. This is even more valid in a service design. A simple email that says that "Hey, something is wrong with your card. It happens to everyone so fix it fast, OK?" is all I would need. Better yet, my payment services should automatically alert common chargers that the number has changed but everything else is the same.

At the end, none of this really mattered. I got my wallet back. Well, I found my wallet and still have all my cards and souvenirs. Only one service deactivated and everyone else just kind of kept going with stern email warnings.