It is that time of year when Vodafone raises the cost of my home broadband by the rate inflation plus 4%. This has always struck me as excessive. Five times I attempted to engage their ‘online chat’ in order to end my contract, and five times it crashed. This is meant to be the nation’s premier communications company, and it cannot successfully receive communications from customers. I suspect that any wishing to begin a contract have considerably less difficulty getting through. I duly filed a complaint.

A polite Indian gentleman called and said he was dealing with it, but before he was able to address the issue, I must identify myself. The conversation lasted a few minutes and was repeated a few hours later. It went something like this:

“Hello Mr Marsden. I am _____ and I am here to deal with your complaint. First of all, I must go through security. I know you were born in the month of ___, but can you please tell me the year.”


“Mr Marsden, I must go through security. Can you please tell me the year of your birth.”

“No. You called me, not the other way round. It’s for you to prove who you are.”

“Mr Marsden. I must go through security. I am required to ask for your year of birth.”

“Would you like my mother’s maiden name while you are here? Perhaps my pin numbers, too?”

“No, Mr Marsden, I am not asking for those. Without your date of birth I cannot go through your complaint.”

“Well my bank has advised me not to give personal information on the phone.”

“I am not your bank, Mr Marsden.”

“Indeed, and you might not be my phone company, either.”

“Well why would I be calling your number about a complaint you made?”

“Indeed, but why would you need my date of birth if you know it’s me?”

“Mr Marsden. I am expected to verify that it is you that I am talking to.”

“Who else do you think would be picking up my mobile phone and claiming to be me?”

"Well it might not really be you".

"My thoughts exactly!"

“Mr Marsden. I must go through security. I am required to ask for your year of birth.

“Well you’re not getting it.

"Well then I cannot deal wiht your complaint".

"As you wish. Another reason to leave your company...if it is your company."

I suspect he was genuine, but I am not prepared to risk divulging personal information which could assist scams and scammers. Arguably, the scam occurred at the beginning of this tale, when a large multinational company with revenues exceeding forty billion determined to raise its customers’ bills by so much more than the rate of inflation.

Some crooks go to jail. Others get knighthoods and medals for their contributions to business. There is only one thing that is free of charge yet priceless in its quality: eternal life. He who dispenses it can always be contacted. 

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