Thursday, September 02, 2004


A former NABABNA banker told me this story and it amused me. I thought I would share it with you.

Fergus answered his phone one afternoon. His customer was that favorite of ours, Person without a Brain (PB). PB wanted some account information and Fergus was glad to help.

F: I am glad to help, PB. May I have your account number (MIHYAN)?
PB: Yes. It is 2605551212.
F: Thank you (Fergus types the number in. It does not pull up an account number). I'm sorry, I seem to be having some difficulties in accessing that account. Let me repeat that. 2605551212. Is that correct?
PB. Yes.
F: I do apologize, this number does not seem to be working (Using the psychic and deductive powers that NABABNA bankers are known for, it suddenly dawns on him why the account number is not working. It's not an account number). Is this your phone number?
PB: Yes.
F: I'm sorry, I am not able to pull up information by phone numbers. MIHYAN?
PB: 1234.
F: Is that the check number?
PB: Yes.
PB: The bank's number is 6055551212.
F: Thank you. However, that won't help me access your account information. MIHYAN?
PB: Didn't I give it to you already?
F: No, I'm sorry. Let's try this. Would you read the numbers on the bottom of your check from left to right for me (We often end up asking this. The bottom number is called a MICR line (Magnetic Ink Character Recognition. If you haven't seen Catch Me If You Can, I would recommend it. It's a good movie about bank fraud and why it's not as easy as it used to be, the MICR line is one of the reasons. (Bank fraud is wrong. Don't do it))?
PB: No. That's too many numbers.
F: Okay. How about we try your social security number? May I have that?
PB: I don't feel comfortable giving out my social security number.

A brief pause in our transcript as I just need to drag out the soapbox. Okay. Soapbox at the ready. Climbing on up.

You called us! We didn't randomly call you at home and say "Hey, I'm got a great deal (scam) for you, give me your account number so I can debit your account for lots and lots of money!" We didn't call you and say "Hey, I'm a shady character who thinks nothing of stealing from people, why don't you give me your social security number so I can steal your identity!" You picked up your phone, dialed the number and called us. You know it's us. We're the ones who don't know who you are.

Okay. Thank you for your time. Vant over.

F: I apologize. I really want to help you but I won't be able to identify you unless I can look up your account information with either your account number or social security number. If you could read the numbers from the bottom of your check, I could start with that number.
PB: Fine. The numbers are...

It is this moment in time where Fergus' computer chooses to self-destruct, a little fun moment of time which we refer to as "Unscheduled Maintenance." The reason we do this is because customers don't like to hear about computer problems. That freaks them out. They start thinking about the stock market crash and the Depression and, well, believe me, it's not pretty.

F: I apologize. I seem to be having some unscheduled maintenance on my computer and will not be able to assist you. If I could place you on hold, I will transfer you to another banker.
PB: No.
F: Excuse me?
PB: I want you to help me.
F: I'm sorry, I can't. My computer isn't working.
PB: But I gave you my account number.
F: No, you didn't. Actually you gave me your phone number, check number and the bank's phone number. I don't have any of your information. Even if I did, I would be unable to access it at this time. May I place you on hold?
PB: Will you transfer me to someone at NABABNA?
F: Um...yes. That's who you want to talk to, right?
PB: Right.
F: Okay, I will transfer you now.

This is not the only time this has happened. Occasionally you will hear a banker say, using all of their customer service skills, "No, that's your check number. MIHYAN?"