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.