Sir, Let’s Just Confirm Your Identity First

Ladies and gentlemen: the story you are about to read is true. Only the birth date has been changed to protect the innocent (well, sometimes innocent).

“Oh, great,” I muttered to myself, “how could they have messed this up?”

I had just started with a new agency and was looking at a piece of paper containing personal information for a benefits package. The instructions were simple: “Please read over the document to ensure accuracy of information.” Document read. Information not accurate. In the birthday column? October 26, 1979. My birthday? October 22, 1979.

“Really?” I thought, “there is no way I wrote the wrong birthday on my sheet.”

If I hit myself in the head hard enough, maybe I can forget about this...

If I hit myself in the head hard enough, maybe I can forget about this…

So, I called the provider of the benefits package, identified myself, and told them that my birth date was inaccurate and I needed it updated. For the representative I talked to, this apparently wasn’t how the cookie cutter conversation should go according to the “how to answer customer calls” sheet she was looking at.

“I’m sorry,” she said, “let’s see if I can help you.”

“Okay,” I replied, “well my birth date is actually…”

“Sir,” she says interrupting me, “I need to get some identifying information from you first before we can proceed.”

“Right, but I need to give you my correct birth date,” I explained.

“Sir, let’s just confirm your identity, first,” she replied.

Maybe if I hadn't used a rotary phone?

Maybe if I hadn’t used a rotary phone?

Now, I am not the smartest person you have likely ever met. But, I am also not the dullest. I didn’t have a crystal ball or even a Magic 8 ball (timely reference), but I could see the future for this scenario….and….it wasn’t going to end well. And like watching a train wreck in slow motion, I calmly began the journey that I knew would end in epic failure.

You can likely already guess what occurred. Here is the aftermath.

“What agency do you work for?” she asked.

I replied with the agency I work for.

“What is your full name?” she asked.

I provided my full name.

“What is the last four digits of your social security number?” she asked.

I provided the last four digits.

Then, it happened. The inevitable. I saw it coming from a mile away. Reader, you saw it coming from a mile away. Phone representative lady did not see it coming from any distance. It was too late.

Your guess is as good as mine...

Your guess is as good as mine…

“What is your birth date?” she asked.

*sigh – “October 22, 1979,” I said in a defeated voice.

A small gasp of air on the other side of the phone followed by silence for about two to three seconds which felt like 10 minutes. This clearly was not expected.

“That’s not what we have on file, sir,” she replied.

“Yes, I know,” I retorted with some agitation, “what you have on file is October 26, 1979, but that is not my birth date as I told you previously.”

Another small gasp of air from the other side of the phone followed by another two to three seconds of silence. This clearly was not expected at all. How could I have known such information if it isn’t my birth date but yet I knew they had it on file? I could only imagine she was flipping through the pages of her manual as quickly as possible to see how to handle this scenario.

I break the silence. “This is what I tried to tell you earlier,” I tried to explain in vain, “you guys made a transcriptional error. My birth date is actually October 22, 1979. Can you please update it accordingly?”

“Sir, you will need to have someone from your agency send a letter verifying that is actually your birth date,” she replied.

This time there was a small gasp of air on my side of the line followed by two to three seconds of silence.

I'm starting to feel warm. I can't tell if I have a case of the Mondays or perhaps the epic heat wave we are experiencing...

I’m starting to feel warm. I can’t tell if I have a case of the Mondays or perhaps it is the epic heat wave we are experiencing…

“You are kidding, right?” I said in a shocked manner, “no one would know my birth date better than me. So, let me get this straight. You want me to tell someone here what my birth date is, so they can write a letter telling you what my birth date is?”

“Yes!” she said with some glee that apparently we had made some sort of connection.

Another small gasp of air on my side of the line followed by another round of silence.

“I will have to call you back later,” I managed to meekly get out, still at a loss over the situation.

So, I called back later and spoke with someone that apparently had a more current version of the customer service representative manual as I was told to go online, enter in some identifiers, and was able to change my personal information, including my birth date. No letter was required.

Awesome.

 

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