The Data Protection Act is a pain in the backside
The Data Protection Act is a pain in the backside. Not in the protection it ostensibly provides for the personal data held by business; nor in the access it gives us to that data they hold. All of that is good and necessary (even if it doesn’t work). It is a pain in the backside for the way it is used by business.
I had one of those phone calls you get when your contract is nearly complete. This was from TalkTalk; but you will have had similar from other companies. It started: “Are you Mr Kevin Townsend?”
“I am,” I said.
“This is TalkTalk. Are you the account holder?” Well, if the answer to the first question is true, then he knows I am. If the answer is not true, then the second question is meaningless. What account? Which supplier? I’ve lied once, so I’ll lie again. Or not.
So I replied, “I am, but who are you?”
“We’re TalkTalk, and I want to tell you that as a loyal customer, you have qualified for an account review.”
Hackles were rising now. I am not a loyal customer; I’ve only ever had one contract with TalkTalk, and I’m seriously considering going elsewhere. And I haven’t qualified for an account review; my contract is nearly complete and TalkTalk wants to lock me into another 18 or 24 months. This form of Granny Weatherwax headology is deceitful and annoying.
“You say you’re TalkTalk, but how do I know that?”
“Because I’ve got all your details in front of me.”
Do they train their staff in how to be annoying? Nevermind; I’d like to know if their loyalty review would be better than what I could get elsewhere. “OK,” I said. “Ask me another.”
“What is your address?” I gave him my postcode. Which was silly, because frankly I would never advise anybody to give some cold caller such information. So I’m quietly getting more and more annoyed.
“What is your birthday?”
Again, I gave it to him. “Correct!” he said. Yes, they clearly do teach them how to be annoying. Bloody annoying. Hooray! I got my birthday right!
“What is your phone number?” But now I had completely lost it.
“You know what my phone number is. You just dialled it. And you know it’s the right phone number because of all your other questions.”
“But I need you to tell me because of the Data Protection Act.”
“No you don’t,” I said. “Go ask your lawyers.”
“Because of the Data Protection Act, I need you to answer all of these questions. Otherwise I cannot continue this conversation.” This is his conversation, at his instigation, intending to get my money.
“Good,” I said. “In that case, goodbye.”
Like I said, the Data Protection act, as used by business, is a pain in the backside.