Automation overkill?

AT&T calls. Dropped.Back in 2008 I switched my wireless service from Verizon to AT&T because I wanted an iPhone 3G. Then during my 2nd 2-year contract deal, Verizon was finally able to offer iPhones on their network. Given how crappy my AT&T 3G service was in downtown Chicago and on my train ride home through the west side. I’m in the middle of the 3rd largest city in the country, how the fsck was I still getting dropped calls?! Or faster service over AT&T’s Edge connection than over their 3G connection in the train stations?!

Anyway, so finally in February of this year I made the jump back to Verizon when it came time to upgrade to a shiny new iPhone 5. The process was smooth and painless. Then a few weeks later I got a check in the mail from AT&T. Turns out I had a credit left on my account.

Now I’m all for getting every dime of money I’m owed, especially when a company is crediting me. And on the one hand I appreciate AT&T’s thoroughness, but I can’t help but think this may have been some automated process overkill:

We're in the money!

That is not a joke. I received a check for the one penny credit left on my account with AT&T. Again, I’m happy they want to give me ALL the money I’m owed, but I can’t help wonder the cost and general resources required for them to print that check/mailing, and for the USPS to deliver it to my doorstep from whatever AT&T corporate office.

I have to assume this was just some automated program/system that noticed my account was closed and there was a credit on it, so it authorized some other system to print me out a check and have someone mail it out.¬†Not to toot my own horn, but this whole situation made me think of an article I wrote for the windows devops site my friend and I run about applying¬†software development best practices to devops and how automation may seem like a good idea at first, but when left unchecked, it can lead to overly complicated and sometimes completely unnecessary situations like mailing some guy a check for $0.01. I dunno, I guess I’d rather have that penny than AT&T, but Jesus Rollerblading Christ was it really worth that effort on their part?

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