Data Protection Muppets

I’ve mentioned this topic on my blog before with regard to the Royal Bank of Scotland and Intelligent Finance but this time it was related to an insurance claim. The insurance company put me in contact with a company that would do the repairs and all they had to do was arrange a time and date. However, it wasn’t that simple.

Initially things seemed to be going well until the company in question phoned me to change the date because they wouldn’t have the materials in time. However, first they wanted to go through security screening.

Now, the conversation to this point had gone something like this:

Me: Hello
Them: Hello, is that Colin Mackay [pronounced kae – I HATE that!]
Me: Mackay [pronounced correctly – its a diphthong, a sliding or gliding vowel that goes from ‘ah’ to ‘ee’] Yes.
Them: This is Martindales. We just need to ask you some security questions before we proceed.
Me: How do I know you are who you say you are?
Them: We are Martindales, your insurance company has appointed us…

The conversation went from bad to worse as I tried to explain that what they are doing is socially conditioning people to hand out sensitive information and was then told that they “had to” ask these questions because of the data protection act. The act makes no such requirement. What they have to do is ensure that they are speaking to the correct person so they don’t divulge potentially sensitive information to the wrong person. However, the way they are going about it, while technically in line with the act, is most certainly not within the spirit of the act.

What made it worst was that when I was asked how they could continue the conversation and I gave the solution they had to ask me no fewer than 3 times how they were going to continue the conversation even although I had given them a solution. After that incident they decided they must not have like my simple solution and refused to communicate with me at all for a while.

My solution, incidentally, was this. They would phone me and indicate that they need to speak to me. I would then get the phone number from existing documentation (i.e. a trusted source) and phone their switchboard and ask to be put through to the person that needed to talk to me. They can then go through the security questions as I will then know I am talking to the correct party. When they phone me I have no way of knowing who I am talking to. They could be making it up. If they give me a phone number to use I won’t use it. I will only use trusted sources like documentation from my insurance company, or from the booklet that the insurance assessor left me.

Anyway, Martindales eventually decided that they did need to communicate with me about yet another change in date and sent me a letter. Pity it didn’t arrive until two days after the guy was supposed to show up. In fact he did almost arrive, and I only knew about it because they phoned me just to say that he was running a little late. Muppets!


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