Stephen Baker

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Tracking the data trackers

February 1, 2010Hop Skip Go

Is the call-center rep getting surly? Kevin Johnson at New Credit Rules has a tip: Inform the person you're recording the call.

Fine, I thought as I read his post. But does he really expect us to record these calls? (Recording on the sly is illegal in some jurisdictions.) Turns out that for Johnson, taping is just part of a vigorous data strategy. His idea, as he writes in an older post, is to amass data on the companies that are busy studying his. "To a large extent," he writes, "this industry is built on asymmetrical information—the companies having more or better information than you do.  As a customer, you must empower yourself and know what is going on at all times and hold companies accountable."

His strategy is exhaustive:

I document every encounter I have with a customer service representative or a company, as if I am a spy.  In the same way a customer service representative may ask me to verify my mother’s birthday, I ask the representative to give me his or her name, employee identification number, and location. (It’s important to do this before things could get heated. Representatives tend to withhold information during a confrontation.)  I have a digital dossier for each company going back years.  It has been my holy grail, enabling me to enforce promises, correct errors, track down employees, etc.  In fact, many times I have found that my information is more accurate than theirs.

Reminds me of a Smokey Robinson song (which I learned in the Jerry Garcia version).

Secretly I've been tailing you
Like a fox that prays on a rabbit
I had to get you and so I knew
I'd have to learn your ways and habits
Oh, you were the catch that I was after
But I looked up and I was in your arms
And I knew that I was captured

What's this whole world coming to?
Things just aren't the same
Anytime the hunter gets captured by the game... 

(The Blondie version is below.)

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