Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Another demonstration of the sheer inanity of modern bureaucracy

The telephone rings at work.

"Hello, Mr Valladares, I'm calling from X (a financial institution). I'd like to talk to you about your account."

"Right, fine, what do you want?"

"First, Mr Valladares, we need to carry out a security check. Can you provide me with the first line of your address, your postcode and your date of birth?"


"Why not, Mr Valladares?"

"Because you repeatedly tell me that I shouldn't give out that sort of information. So, why are you calling me?"

"I'm sorry, Mr Valladares, but I can't give you that information until we complete the security check. I fully understand why you don't want to give you the information though. Can you call us to discuss the matter?"

"What matter?"

"I'm sorry, I can't tell you until we..."

"Yes, I know, but if I don't know why I'm calling you, why should I?"

"Because we need to talk to you about your account."

"But you won't tell me why?"

"No, I'm afraid I can't. Please call us when you have an opportunity."

Sometimes, you just despair, really you do...


Rankersbo said...

The level of security needed to discuss the most inane of things is silly. Sometimes they won't explain the terms of a standard type of product without authentication.

Mark Valladares said...

The fact that the people who do these jobs have any sense of discretion or intellect beaten out of them to be sacrificed on the altar of process mapping doesn't help.

Major organisations are increasingly moving towards these highly regimented customer response processes as a means to reduce training budgets and ensure consistency. Ironically, good staff, well trained, will apply consistent rules and have the ability to deal with cases that fall outside of the normal run-of-the-mill.

Just another of the frustrations of modern life, I'm afraid.

Jock Coats said...

Actually, it's a good point you raise indirectly. Despite being very careful about internet phishing, I don't think I've ever questioned that the person who phones could be someone other than who they say they are.

And with the electronic messages that they occasionally send to get you to confirm a number of transactions someone could probably quite easily get hold of your complete PIN and birthday in two calls.

Mark Valladares said...


Exactly. We are now warned so often about identity theft that we become paranoid about its potential impact, and yet when someone calls us out of the blue and asks for our date of birth, we tell them without a second thought.

No wonder that phishing is so lucrative...

MatGB said...

Aye, and half the security questions they ask you are daft anyway.

"For security reasons, can you confirm your year of birth?"

Hmm, let's see, I celebrated my 35th birthday last September with a lot of my friends, in the local pub where I'm well know, so that would be 1974, because I can do maths.

Mother's maiden name? Matter of public record, Gran's close to moving in.

Town of birth? Yeah, um, I lived there for 25+ years.

Ah well.