Call Flow

A few days back my mobile-phone rang.

Voice on phone (VOP): Hello, am I talking to AM?

Me: Yes you are.

VOP: May I know your Date of Birth (DOB) please?

Me: Is that why you have called? Are you writing up my horoscope?

VOP: No sir. I am calling from TownBank. You called in a few days back and lodged a complaint about a transaction on your Card.

Me: Look, I have gone through the Terms and Conditions listed on your website. Nowhere is it stated that a customer needs to provide his DOB while lodging a complaint about a transaction on the Card.

VOP: No, sir, you don’t need to provide your DOB while lodging a complaint.

Me: But you just asked me for it, didn’t you?

VOP: I did, sir, but that is not because you lodged a complaint.

Me: But you just said you are calling because I lodged a complaint. If that is not the reason, then why have you called me?

VOP: I did sir. I have called about the complaint you have lodged with the bank.

Me: There, I already told you so. In fact, you said so yourself not a minute back. Then why were you denying it?

VOP: I was not sir.

Me: Not what?

VOP: Not denying it.

Me: Not denying what?

VOP: Not denying that I called about the complaint you have lodged.

Me: Now that that is clear, I trust you don’t need my DOB.

VOP: I do, sir.

In an almost imploring voice, VOP said: Can you now please tell me your DOB?

I resisted the temptation to rush back to the “Look, I have gone through the Terms…” part of the loop. Instead, in a conciliatory tone, I asked: But, why do you want my DOB?

VOP: That is our process sir. For security purpose we need to verify we are talking to the right person.

Me: But you called me, didn’t you?

VOP: Yes sir.

Me: Why did you call me on this number?

VOP: Because that is your number available on our records.

Me: If that is the case, why do you need to verify?

VOP: That is our process sir. It has been honed over years of frustrating and unproductive customer interactions in over a hundred countries. (The second sentence I heard but he did not say).

Me: But no other bank asks me for this information when they call.

VOP: We cannot be responsible for weak security practices of other banks.

Me: What if I don’t give you my DOB?

VOP: I am afraid I will not be able to share an update regarding your complaint.

Now, I am a reasonable man. When in a situation where I have no way out, I promptly climb down from the high moral ground, which is what I did in this case. After all, what was the point in preventing the caller from doing his job.

I gave him my DOB, my anniversary date , my home address, the make of my car, my dog’s name and the number of clubs in my golf-set, in rapid succession.

VOP: Thank you, sir. This call is to update you that we are looking into the issue and will respond soon.

Good thing I shared my personal information when I did. I would have been deprived of the update otherwise.


18 thoughts on “Call Flow

  1. Yeah. This happens a lot. My normal response these days is this:
    1. Prove that you are not a terrorist or a cyber terrorist
    2. Prove that you are from the organisation you claim to be from!

  2. I am so frightened of identity theft, I won’t answer questions like that over the phone. Luckily, most institutions have a work-around. I had a good laugh over ‘your’ predicament. You’re so rational, Ankur, in this crazy world.

  3. It isn’t just the bankers. It is also the telephone company, electric company, credit card company, grocer, druggist, or anyone who does business by phone. They forget common sense and play the stolen identity card.

    • So true! Simple transactions have become more and more complex. And, in an increasingly complex environment, task-doers are increasingly more distant from the logic behind a process. Much like the monkeys in the cold water example you published a few days back.

  4. Good grief! I think we’ve all had this exact same conversation. Apparently the bank employee has many siblings or cousins in the same business. I especially loved your parenthetical note “(The second sentence I heard but he did not say).” I hear so many things like this in my head when having these fruitless bureaucratic non-versations that I begin to think I’m experiencing a psychotic break, or at the very least, receiving alien transmissions intracranially. 😉 Great read! 🙂

    • Thank you Kathryn! “Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam” is a Sanskrit term which, loosely translated, turns out to “the world is one family”. So, it is no surprise that there are siblings / cousins operating in the same business around the world 🙂 Like your term “non-versations”.

  5. Lot of credit card scams here. Once they get your social security identity theft sure to follow. They say you have a credit card account balance of say $1,700 and offer to help resole it. They ask for credit card number and social security number. Well if they were legitimate they would already have those two things.

    • Agree. Many telecallers claim to represent a bank or insurance company and ask for details of your relationship with them on grounds of verification. They certainly have gall! One just cannot be too careful. One of the downsides of huge retail franchises. While everyone may be able to get a Credit card issued by someone, or a Phone made by someone else, you will only be an account number or statistic to them. Perhaps time for support to the local / community businesses once again.

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