Clever Trevor

Witty banter with Trevor from the Gall* Centre.

“Good morning, Rod McRiven speaking, how may I help?”
“Good morning Mr. McRiven, my name is Trevor and I’m calling from [The Bank]. Before I proceed I must ask you to confirm a few details for Security.”
“OK,” I say.
“Thank you. My I just confirm that I’m speaking to Mr. McRiven?”
“Yes you are.”
“May I check your date of birth.”
“Go ahead, knock yourself out.”
Silence . . .
“I’m sorry Sir, please may I check your date of birth?”
“I’ve already told you it’s OK.”
“Yes, but will you confirm it for Security.”
“For Security, yes, I certainly will.”
“Thank you Sir, please go ahead . . .”
Silence . . . but eventually, I have to say something, “With that introduction, I was expecting a drum roll, what happened? I thought you were going to confirm my date of birth.”
“I am Sir, as soon as you tell me what it is.”
“Oh, I thought you were going to confirm it, but you didn’t say anything.”
“No, you have to confirm it. I already know your date of birth.”
“Blimey, that’s a coincidence, so do I!”
“Well, Sir can you please confirm it for me?”
“I thought it was for Security.”
“It is for Security.”
“OK, off you go then.”

“No, it’s you who must tell me your date of birth so I know it’s definitely you I’m talking to.”
“Well, it’s definitely me you’re talking to and I definitely know my date of birth, so I don’t see any problem with you telling me what you think my date of birth is so I can confirm it.”
“I’m just not allowed to tell you.”
“Oh, who’s stopping you?”
“It’s against our Data Protection Policy.”
“So, it’s the Bank that won’t let you tell me my date of birth.”
“Exactly. You can tell me, but I can’t tell you because you may not be who you say you are.”

“I see. This is most intriguing. Someone I have never spoken to in my life calls me on my own telephone number and even though you ask me to confirm my name, which I did, you refuse to talk to me unless I tell you my date of birth to confirm that it is, or isn’t, the same as the one you have on your system.”
“Yes Sir, all I need to continue is your date of birth.”
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know my date of birth, what I don’t know is whether you do! If I tell you my date of birth, you could be a Clever Trevor and just say “yes, that is correct,” even if it isn’t, just to fool me, and then you’d try to get even more information from me. Where would it end? The loony bin, probably. But let’s assume you’re not a criminal so, the best way forward is for you to tell me what you have in front of you and I’ll tell you whether it’s right or not.”
“I can’t tell you because it’s the law. Would it help if you called me back, then you’d know I am calling from the bank?”
“Would you need me to tell you my date of birth?”
“Yes, Sir, I would, for Security.”
“For Security, eh! Well, in that case we’re back to square one again. You’re telling me it’s against the law for you to tell me my own information even though what you have in front of you could be wrong or it could be the right information but, coincidentally, for someone else that isn’t me.”
“Yes. But it is definitely your information I have in front of me.”
“I’ll tell you what, seeing as it is my information and you’re convinced it’s nobody else’s, what would you say if I give you permission to tell me my date of birth so I can confirm it and we can get on with the nitty gritty?”
“It doesn’t work like that, Sir.”
“How do you mean? Is it my information or not?”
“No. Yes, it’s your information but I can’t tell you what it is.”
“Why not?”
“Because you might not be Mr McRiven.”
“You already know it’s me! You called my number and I answered the phone.”
“But you have to confirm it’s really you.”
“So, how did you know my name and telephone number when you called me?”
“It’s here on my system.”
“And my date of birth?”
“Yes Sir, your date of birth is here too.”
“So, if when you called me I said, “Good afternoon, Mr Smith speaking,” would you have asked me, or whoever it was, to confirm their date of birth?”
“Probably not, no.”
“Why not?”
“Because I don’t have the date of birth for Mr Smith on my screen.”
“How do you know? And how come you’re convinced it’s correct for me?”
“Because you told me you are Mr McRiven and your phone number matches the one I dialled and your date of birth is here on the screen.”
“But, how do you know it’s correct when you won’t tell me what you have on your system so I can confirm it?”
“No Sir, I can’t because it might not be correct or you might not be the right Mr McRiven. It’s the bank’s way of making sure . . .”
“So, you’re telling me there’s more than a 50% chance the information you have is wrong! This gets worse by the minute . . . You could be calling the right people with the wrong information or the wrong people with the right information and there’s only a slim chance you ever call the right people with the right information.”
“Anyone could get to know anything about anyone. Even the wrong people!”
“It’s an outrage!”
“The Bank’s attitude to customer security is extremely shabby. It borders on the criminal! You did say this call is being recorded didn’t you?”
“Thank you very much for your time Sir,”
Bzzzzzzzzzzzzz . . .

It was fun and I had time to spare. But generally, despite their insistence to the contrary, my time and my family’s time is more precious than anyone else’s. I now have all calls screened. Unknown callers, banks and a few other organisations of a similar ilk are automatically blocked. They can always write to me if it’s important.

© Rod McRiven 2017

*  Gall, /ɡôl/noun
1.  bold, impudent behaviour:
“the bank had the gall to demand a fee”
synonyms: effrontery, impudence, impertinence, cheek, cheekiness
2.  the contents of the gallbladder; bile (proverbial for its bitterness).
synonyms: bitterness, resentment, rancour, bile, spleen

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