Many people across Spain are learning more about accessing digital technology. / SUR

Foreign residents raise concerns about the digital divide

SUR in English spoke with several people who claimed that the Covid pandemic was being used too much as an excuse for a loss of personal attention in banks

Tony Bryant

Senior citizens from foreign countries who live on the Costa del Sol have raised concerns over the so-called ‘digital divide’ in the light of the campaign across Spain to highlight the problems older people have using new technology.

Expats claim lack of understanding has caused them many problems when trying to get a medical appointment, resolve an issue at the town hall or attempt to carry out standard banking procedures. Many people feel that they have been “disregarded” in the digital age.

SUR in English spoke with several people who claimed that there needs to be a change in the policies because, as one said, “the authorities do not comprehend the magnitude of the problem”.

Most said too much blame is being put on the Covid-19 pandemic for the introduction of hard-to-understand online services and others changes

'Fobbing people off'

Mary Jackson, 78, who lives in Benalmádena, said she feels that the banks are the worst culprits and are using coronavirus as an excuse “to fob people off”.

“The banks just cannot be bothered, which is disgusting. It doesn’t matter what you try to do, the first thing you are asked is if you have made an appointment. The reason given is the virus. There is no such thing as personal service any more,” she said.

Lyn Volgarino, who has lived in Torremolinos for 40 years, reiterated the claim, saying, “The virus is being used to justify the changes, but I think the banks would have moved on anyway. Digital life is moving very fast and it’s not easy for us to keep up with it.”

She also said that she was unhappy about having to use the automated cash machines because she “does not feel safe”, especially when withdrawing large amounts of cash.

Lyn, who claims she has “lost her independence”, believes that some of the fault lies with the staff of the service industry. She feels that there should be more consideration for those who are not up to date with technology.

“I think that the staff are very terse, or lacking in politeness. In general, this applies to all public services. They all want us to use Zoom or similar apps, which I know nothing about. This hasn’t been thought out at all. It’s all gone ahead without considering those like myself,” she explained.

Age Concern secretary Steve Marshall also criticised the way senior citizens are treated. The charity is currently organising a series of talks to show people how to use modern technology, but he feels that a lot more could be done to help the elderly.

“I would like to believe it is more an ignorance of the facts than not caring. The authorities seem to have lost sight of the fact that serving the public is their primary goal. Government and health services are servants to the public, not masters,” Marshall declared.