I just received a PINsentry device through the post. For those who don't know, it's Barclays' attempt to make online banking more secure: it's the size of a small calculator, and has a slot for your chip-and-PIN card and a numeric keypad for entering stuff.
On the LCD display was a removable label that insists you read the manual before operating the unit. I picked up the manual, and the cover likewise insists: "Please read this leaflet carefully before you start using PINsentry".
Being the adventurous sort, I thought I'd try it out without reading the manual. So I went to the Barclays online banking site and selected the "Yes, I have a PINsentry device" option.
It told me to insert my card, then press the IDENTIFY button, then enter into the Web page the eight-digit code displayed on the device's screen. I did this, and clicked Next - and hurrah, there was my online banking portfolio page.
This raises the question, then: why do I need an 18-page manual? Along with many pages of stating the bleeding obvious in terms of how to operate the unit, it contains no fewer than seven pages of FAQs, some of which are so trivial that anyone actually needing to be told that information ought not to be allowed to use a computer - or anything electrical, for that matter.
If Barclays is sending these ridiculous manuals to every online banking user, that's a sod of a lot of pointless tree products being shipped around the country.
On the other side of the coin, I applaud all those vendors out there who have taken the plunge and abandoned printed manuals all together. More and more these days you don't get the customary 200-page manual but a two-side "quick start" guide and a CD containing PDFs that you can refer to without worrying about deforestation. If any of them fancies starting a campaign against pointless manuals at SME or consumer level, I'll happily sign up.