Duncan Barkes: what about those who can’t get online?

Duncan Barkes
Duncan Barkes

One of the reasons given is that consumers are now going online to buy their CDs and DVDs.

But what happens to those who do not have easy access to the Internet?

If HMV disappears, then music fans are pretty much stuffed unless they are fortunate enough to have a second-hand record shop in their neighbourhood.

Supermarkets stock CDs, but they are only interested in the latest dirge from Adele. If you went looking for a Verdi requiem, you would be sorely disappointed.

Age UK estimate one third of those aged between 65 and 74 do not have access to a computer or the internet.

The figure increases greatly for those over 75, yet almost everything these days is geared up to being online.

It’s not just shopping. Many organisations today offer their email address, but rarely a postal address.

There is a presumption that everyone has internet access, and if you don’t, tough.

How many times have you heard a local council spokesperson, someone from the NHS or the tax office trot out the line “for details visit www…”?

Many businesses refer you to their terms and conditions or complaints procedures online.

Again, utterly useless if you don’t have Internet access.

Yes, there are courses to teach people about computers and using the internet, but one golden oldie of my acquaintance tells me that, when she attended such a course, they started teaching her about spreadsheets when all she wanted to do was learn how to send an email to her grand-daughter in Australia.

Besides, if you’re living on just the state pension, a computer is a big expense.

And living our lives dependent on the Internet, whilst often cost effective, is hugely frustrating when orders go wrong.

An online conversation with customer services in another continent recently saw Mrs B. using some very unladylike hand gestures as she tried to overcome the language barrier and find out where her order had been rerouted to.

Being online is an increasing necessity, but for some it is not an option. Government, local councils and businesses would do well to remember that and to strike a balance.

• As a Worthing lad who spent many years learning how to drink and carouse in the town, I found myself reminiscing the other day about the iconic Carioca nightclub that was turned into flats years ago.

Over a pint with a mate we were trying to remember if it was true that rock band R.E.M. once played a gig there. Maybe you attended or perhaps it is merely a myth. Either way, any insight would be most welcome.

The news that HMV may be disappearing from the high street again reveals how the internet dominates our lives.