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Sunday 15 August 2004

Consumerism [Amnesia]

There comes a point, as the good Dr recently pointed out, when corporations just fuck you off. Now I am, in all honesty, a complete past master of winning the phone-team-situation. This comes from having been a phone-jockey in previous student lives and from being a professor of human behaviour. Uncle Am's top tips for winning a consumer dispute via a call centre are;* Remember - nothing gives a phone jockey a sense of power in their miserable existence than being able to cut you off at the legs. Therefore if you are going to pull an attitude on them, you lose. Remember this a frickin lot because you're gonna need your patience.* Phone jockey's are mega apathetic and are completely uninterested in you. However....* They all really know just how shit their company is and they hate the bosses, more or less. Therefore....* If you can make *them* your friend and the bosses the enemy and give them a sense of "sorting the crap out" then you are into phone-jockey heaven my friend* Which is all predicated on the fact that you must must must get a personal relationship going with someone that you can come back to.If you achieve all of the above, then 9 times out of 10 you can achieve the impossible. i.e. get your frickin way.Now, to the point of the blog, there are sometimes that you know that you just can't win. A policy decision that is mindblowing but universal to the company. In these situations I have started writing emails for sheer entertainment only. The following is something I wrote to HSBC when they upped their normal internet security to extra loads of pointless checks. I think it would be great if other members of EED could contribute similar ones and we'll get it published like one of the most successful books of the 70's - The Henry Root Letters. Ours will be called Crosshatch Consumerism and we'll all be millionaires by this time next year, Rodney....Dear Kate & Team,Thanks for taking the time to feedback - sign of a decent organisation. I noted with interest that you said that your research was across "the industry" and imho this is why you've been conned into this change.Whenever you are talking data security or audit, those people do not have any "upside" to telling you that your current levels are acceptable. Instead they generally look around the industry and see - for instance - Natwest using 4 level security with interminable questions, rubbish functionality and a total unwillingness to let you do anything useful unless you have to input your name, the first family pet you ever had and your inside-leg measurement.The upshot of this is they say "ooh - you do realise your security is 'deficient' compared to Bank X". It's not deficient at all, it's just not as totally overdone. This recommendation, because it comes from data security or audit type functions, is then hard for middle management to turn down because they feel they are on a "no win" streak if one SINGLE person loses money because they wrote "My IB number is 123456666, my pin is 123456" on their wallet in crayon.Well it's wrong imho. It's always easy to go for the "max level" and certain people make a really good living out of making these recommendations. But in reality, if you have a telephone banking system that let's you log on using sort-code / a/c number and 6 digit pin, or the ability to take money out of the hole in the wall with card and 4 digit pin, then the choices you are making on this internet login are illogical.In summary, as an HSBC customer, I feel you've been conned by the culture of "maxism" on controls. It's not necessary. If a tiny percentage of the crayon-using public end up getting robbed of their money then I suggest, organisationally, you should recognise, this is probably a good thing. They will starve, become destitute and be unattractive to the opposite sex at which time they will not be able to reproduce, thereby stengthening the gene pool.So in summary, not only do I as your loyal customer ask you to reconsider, but I remind you, that the good of the species itself requires it....Yours sincerelyGareth Johnson.


  1. I wonder is Kate, or her team, know what "imho" means? :)

  2. Haha, I was thinking the same thing.

  3. Erk. The number of times I read that it never occured to me. Bit like the first time you find yourself saying "LOL" in real-life. Back away from the keyboard sir and put down teh URL.....

  4. strangely enough I bank with HSBC too, and didn't think their security was over the top ... but then I have also used Egg online and Marbles online, and a few others too, and they are all far worse. ok, so I have to find my IB number, but the rest of it is easy to remember anyway (I've had the same bank account for 20 years, so I know the details off by heart) and that just leaves the security number. Its not significantly worse than using the phone based system, and for checking over recent transactions it beats it hands down because you can see a whole page at a time. Of course its not very secure either, because I have to keep the IB number somewhere that I can find it easily, as its too long for me to memorise :-)

  5. Egg actually made their system easier to log into not so long back. Smile is ace, it's just sort, account and pin numbers followed by a security question. Takes seconds and how quick and fast it is to log into your online banking does make it more useful in some way, I find.