Names and databases

Well, there’s a whole new can of worms opened up…as though i needed any more.

But that’s what you get for wondering why something is happening, as opposed to just casually accepting it does. It had struck me, of late, that whilst junk mail addressed to my old self was becoming ever thinner on the mat, the volume of cold calls asking to speak to him indoors seemed to be going up.

In respect of the first, that doesn’t greatly bother me. Last week, we received two amazing offers, targeted at the previous owner of this property (last seen on the premises nearly 9 years ago now).

Junk mail is no respecter of transition

I assume that the source of this is twofold: technical lack of investment; and human disrespect. The latter, i witnessed first hand when working in the direct marketing industry some twenty years back.

One client (at the time) used to send out a massive annual statement mailing to its customers. As the mailing took place over several weeks and was to some five million or so people, you could guarantee that toward the end of the mail period, some of those on the originally supplied list would have died.

So concerned with its customers’ feelings was this organisation that it used to send over, daily, the names of a dozen or so bods who’d died the preceding week, to remove from mailing.

Not so another organisation – which must remain mercifully nameless – who, on being informed that a significant part of their prospect base was actually deceased (and how much it would cost to remove the names) just shrugged its shoulders and carried on as before, because “they’re hardly going to complain”. Quite!

The other prob lies in the techy sphere. Despite the vogue in many industries for something called the “single customer view”, most businesses continue to operate multiple separate databases. Sometimes one base – often the marketing one – is an extract taken from a more current (accounting) base, but not updated for months/years.

Sometimes it is something that a department has thought up on its own.

Thus, long after i changed my details with nPower, there was one species of marketing letter that kept coming thru my letterbox. Which, in time, i realised was due to their marketing department maintaining a separate base without decent update rules in place.

Not ringing in the changes

I digress. The real can of worms lies in the phone calls. Why, i started to wonder: after all, my old name is now removed or dormant on most of the big mailing lists. Its off the electoral register… changed at the big credit agencies.

OK: still associated, i suspect, to one or two dormant bank accounts…but that data should not be going out to, say, double glazing companies. What’s going on.

And of course, the answer is simple. The old name is listed in the current issue of local phone directory. I’ll forgive them that: after all, its less than a full year since BT changed all my account details over…and there was still the odd glitch (that separate database thing) up til June.

So i’m guessing that the latest directory may have been compiled too late in the day (or early) for the change to work its way thru.

All the same, this set me to thinking about two further name change probs. First off, it is a very very good reason for companies to have decent update procedures in place between in-house bases. Its no good saying “yes, Ma’am: we’ve changed your details…when actually they mean just the one set of details on one of the fifty databases they hold in-house”.

In such cases, the individual concerned has to do all the legwork, running round, changing stuff, at great personal cost in terms of time and blood pressure.

BT carelessness is going to get someone hurt

Much, much more seriously, though is what BT Have done with my name. Er. Online, my new name is not visible (although its meant to be).

Online, my OLD name is still available together with phone number and address. That is downright fucking criminal: i am pretty out and therefore must pay the price for that, one way or t’other.

But for anyone NOT out, this is a wide open door and security breach. I’ve fired off a personal complaint…but on Monday i will be raising the matter a tad higher.

BT need to get their act together on this one, before someone gets hurt.



8 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    paula madcat panther said,

    yes indeed.. it is downright fucking criminal.. statutory offence of unlawful disclosure.. penalty.. £5000 fine!!

  2. 2

    Meggy said,

    I had the same problem with 02, when I asked them to change my name which they successfully changed it, so I logged in to my online account about 4 weeks after receiving official confirmation from them and lo and behold it had my old title and firstname.

    I called their customer support around 10 times and also getting a so called manager and even after explaining what could potentially happen if someone happened to see my old details over my should and put two and two together, there could be potential for harassment and even worse which I explained.

    All I got was give it a few weeks for their online database to catchup, still no change so I decided to write in and all I got was we have updated your details and we do not keep any details of your old name, still no change.

    In the end the only choice was to close my account (and told them why) and move to another provider.

  3. 3

    Meggy said,

    Just to add, for me BT were one of the few who got it correct right away, I nearly fainted when I checked all my details 🙂

  4. 4

    badspyro said,

    Some of us cheat and use the pro-noun as a filter for junk mail and the like – makes it instantly recognizable. Maybe it’s time to use Prof. as a new one 🙂

  5. 5

    Shirley Anne said,

    I am glad I am ex-directory. I have been ex directory for many years so I didn’t get that problem. I must say that I’ve not had any problems at all with companies in general although once or twice I still get mail addressed in my former name. These are from obscure companies that I have no dealings with so I am guessing they got their information from companies that I have dealt with. All of it is junk mail and I send it back to them in their own envelopes. If everyone did that it would soon stop companies bothering to send it out in the first place. Why are the British public so stupid?

    Shirley Anne xxx

  6. 6

    I get a number of phone calls, all illegal because I’m on the national no-call register, asking to speak to “Mr”.

    Depending on how bloody-minded I’m feeling, I either hang up, tell them there’s no such person or, best of all, say “Yes that’s me” in a clear contralto.

    Then I hang up.

    I’m about to embark on the deed-poll name change part of my transition. This should be fun, since I’m a UK citizen but live abroad.

  7. 7

    paula madcat panther said,

    I had some idiot on the phone last week addressing me as “sir” and trying to put my details as “mister” .. after 5 minutes at their expense I just hung up.. I’m on a restricted mobile number which is unregistered.. so how do they get it in the first place?.. Generally I don’t get any hassle with junk mail, mainly because my name changed over 10 years ago and I have moved house 6 times since 🙂

  8. 8

    Liz Church said,

    I have unfinished business with BT and it will be a police matter when I have the energy to deal with it. The ICO weren’t helpful, but then, I didn’t explain my situation. being stealth, I wouldn’t.

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