Saturday, July 29, 2006

Why do they need to know that?

Have you noticed that every time you call anyone to get information they want more information than they give you? I wonder if there is some kind of required quid pro quo. I don't understand.

When I have a problem with my cable TV(rarely) or Internet(more often) I call Cox. They want my phone number (haven't they heard of caller ID?). They also want the last four digits of the social security number on the account and my address (don't they have computers?). The last question is "Can I access your account?". Why do they need access to my confidential account information anyway? Why do they think I called? What if someone was staying in my house trailer and I wasn't home and they didn't know my social security number? Aren't they allowed to call for service? Isn't the address enough, why do they even need the address the have the phone number?

I had an occasion to call for service on my trailer. I looked on the FEMA website to see if there was a directory for such things. No such luck. I called the FEMA toll free number 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) to ask for the trailer service number for New Orleans. That lead to a 20 minute hold on the phone and question and answer session primarily designed to fill out a form on the screen so that my call could be tracked in their system. They wanted my name, file number and Social Security Number. Why do they need all of that information to provide a single phone number which should be public anyway?

Even though I prefaced my call with a statement that I was living in a FEMA trailer and needed service. The operator did not immediately offer to give me the FEMA trailer hotline 1-888-294-2822 or ask my zip code which would have identified the correct maintenance contractor as Smith Research Corporation. Their number is 1-866-476-7329.

Can you imagine how much less time you would spend on hold if they didn't require so much unnecessary information?

1 comment:

Slimbolala said...

And it's also amazing how much time some of these poorly structured bureaucracies can spend reharvesting the same information, asking the same questions each time you call.