Smart phones, dumb people.
Steve Jobs is dead, and frankly, it couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Yea, I know, that sounds "harsh" and all, but think about it - he has inflicted some of the worst technology on the people of the world with the Macintosh (making the computer into a status item, instead of a machine) and the iPhone.
The iPhone is a particularly noxious instrument as it has destroyed the productivity of Americans and indeed, the people of the world. And it has spawned imitators as well, such that the ubiquitous "smart phone" is impossible to avoid in this day and age.
The problem with "smart phones" is that the people who use them are dumb - and become dumber the more they use them. The smart phone panders to the obsessive compulsive in all of us - and it "dumbs down" communication by a factor of 1000 or more.
I can always tell if I am dealing with a smart phone idiot when I try to e-mail them. Smart phone people don't do e-mail, but text instead. So if your message isn't clear in the first 140 characters, you can forget about getting any kind of coherent response from the recipient.
I don't guarantee to remind clients of payment of maintenance fees for their patents, and the following exchange with a smart phone idiot illustrates why.
To: ClientFrom: BobSubject: Maintenance Fee DueDear Client:You have not responded to the last five e-mails regarding the maintenance fee due for your Patent. The six-month window is now closed. We can still pay the maintenance fee of $1800 (Small Entity) with a surcharge fee of $80. My fee is $500. The final due date for payment, however, is August 16th.You may qualify for Micro entity status which would halve this fee to $900. Attached is a document summarizing the qualifications for Micro-entity status. Please review it and advise me if you qualify, and I will file the Micro-entity certification at no extra charge.Please confirm receipt of this e-mail.Regards,--Bob.To: ClientFrom: BobRE: Maintenance Fee DueIt has been two weeks now, did you get my last e-mail regarding the maintenance fee?From: ClientTo: BobRE: Maintenance Fee DueSorry, I have been out of town. What is the fee and when is it due?SENT FROM MY iPHONEFrom: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueThe fee, as I noted in my last e-mail is $1800 plus a $80 surcharge fee, plus my fee of $500. It is due August 16th. I will require an advance before paying the fee. I do not guarantee to remind or pay maintenance fees on behalf of a client without an advance. Please advise how you wish to proceed and whether you qualify for Micro-entity status.From: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueDid you get the e-mail I sent you last week? Please advise.From: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueI have not received a response to my last e-mail, which was sent over a month ago, so I presume you wish to have the Patent expire rather than pay the maintenance fee. I will close my files in this matter.Regards,--Bob.From: ClientTo: BobRE: Maintenance Fee DueSorry, been busy. I want to keep the Patent active. How do I qualify for Micro-entity status?SENT FROM MY iPHONEFrom: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueI have attached yet again, the micro-entity status information. If you make less than $152,000 and qualify as a "Small Entity" (which you do) you likely will qualify as a Micro-entity. I need at least two weeks prior to the deadline to file the Micro-entity status declaration, however, so please get back to me shortly.From: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueDid you get my last e-mail? It has been two weeks now. --Bob.From: ClientTo: BobRE: Maintenance Fee DueSorry for the delay, been busy. I think I qualify for micro-entity status, but that $152,000, is that net or gross income?Also, can I pay you later for the fee?SENT FROM MY iPHONEFrom: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueThanks for your e-mail. No, I need an advance, as I cannot afford to pay for the fee on my credit card and then wait a month or more to get paid by the client. See the attached document, which answers your questions about Micro-entity Status.From: BobTo: ClientRE: Maintenance Fee DueDid you get my last e-mail?From: ClientTo: BobRE: Maintenance Fee DueThanks for the information. When is this $1200 fee due again?SENT FROM MY iPHONEFrom: BobTo: CientRE: Maintenance Fee DueThe fee isn't $1200. I am not sure where you got that from. It is $1800, unless you qualify as a Micro-entity. Plus there is a late fee at this point, and my fee, which hardly covers my hourly rate for sending endless e-mails.....
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You get the idea. Smart Phone people are lazy as shit, and if they can't see the answer in the first 144 characters, they just give up and ask for more information - often the same information you already sent them, several times. They can't download and read documents on their tiny iPhone screens, so they just ignore them, expecting you to summarize a five-page paper in 140 characters or less.
This exchange is fictional, but based on several I have had recently with clients regarding maintenance fees. I sent long detailed queries that require detailed answers, and all I get back is "Sounds good!" which must be one of those pre-loaded standardized answers, as I get it a lot. But "Sounds good!" doesn't answer any questions.
Dealing with iPhone people is a pain-in-the-ass. And frankly, I am not worried about offending them, as they don't read anything anymore and thus would never read this blog, or if they did, would read only the first paragraph and then run off to Facebook to post what a heartless bastard I am for not worshiping the ghost of Steve Jobs.
iPhone people don't e-mail. They don't talk on the phone, either. Or when they do, they put it in speaker mode and hold it at their waist and shout into it for everyone to hear. They are annoying as shit.
It seems that e-mail is obsolete, as is the old POTS style telephone (you know, the one people talked on, once upon a time). Our society has been reduced to twitters and facebook posts, the shorter the better. In fact, the ultimate communication today is simply one bit (0 or 1) - whether you "Like" something or not.
Communication reduced to this level of minimalism is not communication at all.