Today, I drove to the ferry terminal instead of taking the shuttle. Parking is two dollars, and since this is the 21st century, instead of giving a human being (or even a machine) actual money (or even a plastic card), I pay for it using an app. My Paypal information is stored in my phone, so the app sends it to the parking service, which contacts Paypal, extracts two bucks from my account, and sends a success message to the app. The app then notifies me that all is well, and we’re done for the day.
Well, not really. First, Paypal e-mails me that a payment has been made. It could wait for me to check my statement at the end of the month, or even apply the simple algorithm that it’s a payment I make once a week or so and doesn’t need a special notification, but none of the above. Then, the parking service sends me two e-mails: one to say that my payment was processed and another to say that I’m OK to park. I understand that these are discrete events, probably handled by different server processes, but I still think those two could be combined. If you’re keeping score, that’s three.
Now, at 2:45, it sends another e-mail to say that my parking session is about to expire. This is very important, because at 3:00 parking becomes free, and the difference between paid parking and free parking is, well, I’m sure I don’t need to explain it. Then, a bit after 3:00, it sends another e-mail to confirm that my paid parking really has expired. (I now have a mere 14 hours to pick up my car, though the e-mail leaves that implicit.) If you’re keeping score (or even if you’re not), that’s five messages, of which at most two contain any useful information.
E-mail is basically free, and my account includes so much storage that text-only messages couldn’t fill it even if they were sending copies of A Dance With Dragons instead of short notes, but it still irritates me.