My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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aweful automated decisions

What a dumb policy. I tried to order an American Airline / Citigroup credit card today to start earning miles on American Airlines instead of USAirways (mostly because i’ve grown cranky with USAir’s service lately). Of course, i was already feeling guilty about getting a credit card with miles, because of Zittrain, but still.. i know the reality and i know that i travel and fuck, i hate it when i’m willing to give up my privacy for rewards. So, i was feeling guilty, but i called anyhow. And i went through the process and they sent me this letter in the mail stating that they are sorry that they’re unable to process my request because they couldn’t confirm my home telephone number. So, i politely call them up and explain that i am a frequent traveling and don’t have a home telephone number. And they tell me that they can’t offer me a credit card. And i got very confused, saying that i couldn’t imagine that i am the only one without a home telephone number, that i was a frequent traveler and maintained only a cell phone number. And they told me that they couldn’t confirm my identity and that it was their policy to deny credit to anyone that they couldn’t confirm by way of a home telephone number.

It was like talking to a machine – i couldn’t get anywhere with them because they had orders that they were told to follow and no matter who i talked to, they only relayed the script that they were given. Human computers. Fabulous. Let me tell you how much i love this new society. So, alas, i got frustrated and hung up, proceeded to immediately call American Airlines who was outraged and said they’d work on it.

When nothing had happened in quite a few days, i decided to call American back. This time, i got someone on the phone who told me that there was nothing that American could do because they were a separate company and that they couldn’t dictate the rules. Another human-computer reciting lines and not really being a customer service person. Great.

Once again, annoyed, i decided to call up my current Citibank credit card number, explained who i was, went through a few changes on my account and then said, oh, by the way, can i change this account to a Frequent Flyer account and !bam! sure enough, i received the change. ::sigh:: I hate dealing with stuff like this – jumping through hoops just to jump through hoops. It’s just downright irritating.

And besides, it just can’t be a good thing that society is turning away from human services to human computers. If there was any question about how aggressive powerful individuals would maintain power…

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