This week I realised how truly embedded the internet is in our lives. Actually that isn’t true, I already knew this, it was just another example. This example was one that many of you will have experienced, the terror of telephone banking.
I started banking with a well known telephone bank when they were the first company to establish the service. I actually had to fight to show that I was a worthwhile client before they would accept me. This was a wonderful leap forward in a world, that at the time, didn’t consider those that actually paid their wages. This was back when Saturday opening was unheard of and all banks closed at 3 PM at the latest. If you wanted to see your bank manager (they still had them) or, more likely, they wanted to see you then you had to take time off work!
The thought that I could manage my money, which the bank were making a profit from looking after, without such disruption was a serious step change. Over the course of my many years on the planet the internet has superseded telephone banking. I remain with the founding father of this system but use their internet option. I discovered this week that I needed a new password type affair and that I could either have one of those silly little calculators that don’t add up or I could use my cell. Hurrah thought I, my cell is the perfect tool for the task and it has a working calculator!
Alas there was a problem with the app type thing so I had to call in. Having selected the appropriate option I was faced with security, did I remember my memorable place? My date of birth? Oh of course I did, I am an old master at this now. Then the kicker “can I have your memorable date?” I racked my brain, do I have a memorable date? There is the birth of my children of course but which one? Besides I don’t remember birthdays. July is my unlucky month, the one where people that hate me want to date me, but that’s not a date. I asked for a clue but they are not allowed to provide one. Giving up I was transferred to security who verified me using various other details. The security team then proceeded to ask if I could be overheard, was this line recorded, was it secure? I felt like a president calling in a bomb strike during the cold war.
At this stage the young lady gave me my memorable date, “oh that’s my wedding anniversary”. Everything safely in order I was put back through to the tech team. This time I was asked if this was my number “nope it’s another number because your email suggested I called from an alternative to the one with the problem”. Apparently the number wasn’t listed, could he call me back on my number? I suggested that this rather missed the point but he was having none of it.
Third call of the day and I recited name, postcode and date of birth as if they were mine. Primed for the memorable date question, I had written it down, I was ready for him. . . “What’s the third letter of your telephone password?” well I hadn’t seen that coming. Apparently this was not the same as the online password which I have used to the exclusion of all else for ten years. I guessed at my common ones to no avail, what were my ‘common’ ones 15 years ago? Back to security I went to answer the same questions, they couldn’t reveal my password but reset it to match the internet one. They don’t know they have done this and they warned against it but, since all they can see are asterisks, how will they know?
I lost nearly an hour of my day completing this. Don’t misunderstand me they were all very nice and it was all very efficient, well by bank terms anyway. But you feel such an idiot when you can’t remember allegedly special events and places. I was in my early twenties when I established these codes, I haven’t used them in ten years. Next time I’m faced with a call centre girl who is incredulous that I cannot remember my memorable date I will not go so easily. I am considering asking her if she remembers the name of the blonde kid she played in the sand pit with at nursery, then scold her for forgetting. Alternatively when she scoffs at me forgetting my wedding anniversary I may just say “thanks it took years of counselling to forget that dark day, oh well back to the nightmares”.
And they say that they are here to serve us.