Data! Data! Data! And the tale of a curious telephone call

Replies : 4
Owen Watson's picture

It’s been a fair few weeks since my last blog (I’m sure regular commenter’s Clifford Moggs and Adrian Rutter have missed me) , and I was pondering what I should scribble down in my latest foray when I get a phone call...

We exchange greetings, in the customary fashion, before he explains he is calling from the Department for Work and Pensions and asks if I’d like to take a survey.

My answer is no. I’m not particularly fond of telephone surveys and I was leaving for the train station in 15 minutes in any case (it’s for a King’s Fund event down in Manchester in case you’re curious), so I hang up the phone and think that will be that.

How naive I was! The gentleman immediately phoned back and kindly informed me that I HAD to take the survey.

Now, I think I’m quite a patient and jovial kind of guy, but I’m not the kind of person that smiles sweetly when I’m being told what to do. In fact, if you try and tell me to do something then chances are I’ll do the exact opposite.

So I retorted that this gentleman could not tell me what to do and I will not be taking his survey, and I again hang up.

Clearly, this fellow was a persistent chap, as he continued to ring me back and insist that I take his survey. After being called back three times I lost my temper and demanded to speak to a supervisor, after being called back for the sixth time I realised that this person may not actually work for the DWP.

We begin with the survey, and I give the most outlandish answers my boiling brain can conjure.

“Are you the homeowner?”
“Yes, why not?”
“How much is the property worth?”
“Eighteen billion pounds”

And that’s just the beginning...the fraudster was subjected to a ten minute tirade of ridiculous responses and general ribbing, including a lovely moment when I claimed to be the queen of England, own a lucrative property empire, and work for MI5 in Brazil.

Unbelievably, he stuck with it, even though we both knew it was a charade! I pointed this out to him and he was undeterred, relentlessly sticking to his script.

Not too sure what the moral of the story should be, but it was slightly odd that I was about to spend two days learning about ‘Data! Data! Data!’ and how NHS executives use information to make decisions.

But still, more interesting than revising for exams!

Queen of where?

Your may be mistaken in thinking he doesn't work for DWP.  I trained in the civil service and my experience suggests he may be for real. Sadly.




I'd be shocked if he was...he was asking questions about how many credit cards I owned, value of my home, if I had any unsecured debts, things of that nature. Based on that I'm guessing he was either from some debt consolidation company or some kind of agent/information seller on their quasi-behalf.

If anyone could tell me otherwise I'd be interested to know...

Besides, he knew my address & surname but didn't know my first name...when I challenged him he said he only had my initial, which he proceded to get wrong!

I did have a bit of a giggle trying to get him to take another guess, eliminating options for him & significantly cutting his odds!! He didn't bite, guess he didn't have an incentive...

And it was the Queen of England, but I'm guessing my heavy Sunderland accent didn't add much credibility to the claim!!

Re "Queen of where"

Hi Owen,

I had a comment about queen of England beacause as every Scots/Irish/Welshman knows it's Queen of the UK etc.  Not England since we foisted James VI on you.  I removed the comment as I thought it might upset people, but forgot to change the title.  That's what I get for trying to be clever.

As for "Really???", yes, it was a bit tongue in cheek, but maybe, just maybe...

Glad you enjoyed winding him up.  It's the best fun you can have on the phone.

United Queendom

Oh deary me, I was blissfully unaware...hopefully my Scottish relatives aren't reading this, they'll be ashamed!! My grandad is CIMA qualified, so it's not beyond the realms of possibility...

And to think I was the school's History swat back in the day!

Love that I completely missed the joke there, but still, teaches me to not read too literally into things (or to comment on my blog when I'm half-asleep)