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    Indecisively Incognito

    | Gainesville, Florida, USA |

    (I am calling a customer, we’ll call him John Smith, to get feedback on a service he registered with. It’s required that they verify their name.)

    Me: “Hello, I’m calling from [organization]. May I speak to John Smith?”

    Customer: “Yeah, who’s calling?”

    Me: “This is [my name]. I’m calling because you recently signed up for one of our services and we’re gathering feedback. Is this a good time to talk?”

    Customer: “Oh, uh…John isn’t here right now.”

    Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. I’d be happy to call back. When’s a good time?”

    Customer: “I don’t know. What’s this about?”

    Me: “We’re just trying to improve our programs and services. It’s optional, but we’d like to get as much feedback from our customers as possible.”

    Customer: “Okay, go ahead.”

    Me: “I do need to speak to Mr. Smith, though. When will he be available?”

    Customer: “He’s available now.”

    Me: “Oh, may I speak to him then?”

    Customer: “You are speaking to him.”

    Me: “Oh.” *laughing* “You got me. Why didn’t you say this was John Smith at first?”

    Customer: “I didn’t know who you were.”

    Me: “I see. Okay, shall we begin then? I just have a few questions. So to begin, what is your first name?”

    Customer: “No, I don’t give out my name over the phone.”

    Me: “Don’t worry, it doesn’t get attached to your answers, it’s just to confirm–”

    Customer: “You don’t have my name. I’m not giving you my name.”

    Me: “Well, Mr. Smith, I already have your name, but I don’t do anything with it except to have something to call you by–”

    Customer: “This isn’t Mr. Smith.”

    Me: “It’s not? But you said–”

    Customer: “You asked if you were speaking to John Smith, and I said yes. But I’m not telling you who I am. C’mon, I wanna do the survey.”

    Me: “I have to do it with the customer, though. If Mr. Smith is available later, though–”

    Customer: “No, he’s available! I’m available!”

    Me: “So this is John Smith? Again, I can assure you that your feedback is anonymous.”

    Customer: “I don’t give out any information over the phone. I don’t know who you are.”

    (Thinking that maybe the lines have crossed, I ask to verify the phone number to be sure this is actually the customer’s number.)

    Customer: “Maybe that’s the number you called, maybe not. I’ll answer your questions though. And also…”

    (He begins rattling off suggestions for improving our services.)

    Me: “If I can’t verify that I called the right person at the right number, I can’t take down any of this. I’m sorry.”

    Customer: “But I’m who you’re looking for!”

    Me: “So, you’re John Smith?”

    Customer: “Maybe! Let’s do the survey.”

    Me: “Okay, I’m sorry, sir, but there’s nothing I can do if you can’t verify your identity. Have a good evening.”

    Customer: “Wait! I’ll do the survey!”