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Fool's Gold

Fool's Gold

Penny wise, pound foolish. Not I. Nope, I'm penny foolish and pound foolish. In fact, I'm dollar foolish, franc foolish, yuan foolish, rupee foolish - well, you get the picture. Now, I'm not talking about my spending habits, I'm talking about being part of the "silent inefficient majority" (SIM).

In a nutshell, you're part of the SIM if, like me, you haven't balanced your chequebook since 1977. Other indicators include: you never get three quotes on anything, you've never bothered to refinance your mortgage to take advantage of a quarter of a point drop in interest rates; once a month you play "it's your turn, no it's your turn" tag with your partner as to who queues at the post office to pay the electric bill before it's cut off; and you regularly go over your credit card limit and just as regularly pay it a few days late. Basically, you think direct debit and BPay are the best things since sliced bread.

The silent inefficient majority is always bemused when there's a tax cut and the newspapers do those cute little charts and graphs with bags of groceries or school uniforms, letting us know that we'll have an extra $6.38 in our pay packet every week. Like we care. We're too busy trying to find the warranty for the six-month-old washing machine that died over the weekend.

It's not that I'm irresponsible; it's just that I'm time-poor and otherwise prioritised. And, if truth be told, I know I can get away with it. My electricity's never been turned off (well, the phone was once); the chequebook god has never hit me with a bolt of lightning; I still have more credit cards than I need, and at the end of the day I still don't know what to do with that extra $6.38 (nor did I find the warranty for the washing machine). However, I am aware that my inefficiency costs me moneyTake for example, medical coverage - I've never filed a claim. I guess that's good news in that my family is relatively healthy and no one's been so ill that efficiency was a necessity. (Wait. I lie. I did recoup some money once. A few years back, I cut a deal with my teenage son. I shoved what doctor and script receipts I could find into a paper bag and told him if he went to the Medicare office and did the queuing bit, I'd split whatever he got back 50:50.)But I've also had private cover for almost 10 years, and I've never, ever filed a claim - that is, until recently. I had to go to the dentist and she had this neat little swipe-card thing. My claim was filed immediately and a couple of hundred dollars was deducted from my bill right there and then. Ain't technology neat, I thought.

But I had another more important thought (not exactly a big ask when preceded by "Ain't technology neat"): This is how technology can give a business a competitive edge. I have a whole new attitude as a customer. In the future, I'll be seeking out - and remaining loyal to - product and service providers who make me more efficient and save me money with no effort on my part.

That is, as soon as I get my 1999 Honda CRV back from its initial three-month service.

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