open letter to pc mastercard
January 20, 2016
Dear PC Mastercard,
Over the past little while I’ve had the misfortune of needing to deal with your call centre. Each time is a super fun exercise in humiliation and discomfort. I’m starting to get to the point where I dread calling and have thought about simply abandoning my card.
It’s a shame too, given that you were the only banking service I had that allowed me to update my vital information without needing to endure the humiliation of going into one of your service centres. At this point, this is the only credit card that I have with my current legal name, which is one of the reasons why its the only one I’ve been using.
Little did I know that this would be a double edged blade. While I’m super happy to have documentation and accounts that reflect my current legal name and gender, its this precise thing that makes having to directly interact with your customer service so humiliation. I begin to wonder if I should just use a different card, still in my old name, if I’m going to have to deal with this every single time I call.
Here’s what happens every time I need to speak to you about something:
The customer service person starts with, “sir, I’ll need your credit card number before I can do anything with your account.” At this point, I cringe inwardly because I know exactly what is going to happen in the rest of this call.
“I’m going to need to ask you some security questions…” I then proceed to answer every question correctly because, after all this is my account.
We get to the last question, “What’s the name on the card?”
I tell them my name. And then get this response, “Oh. I’m hearing a male voice, is the cardholder with you?”
To which I reply, “I am the cardholder. This is my card.”
They go, “oh…….. I’ll have to ask you some additional security questions.”
And now we get to the fun, super vague questions about my credit history. All of which I answer correctly because, again, this is my card and my account. My life, you know?
Now, depending on how much your representative feels like humiliating me that day, they either (at long last) accept that this is, in fact, my card and I am the cardholder OR I get to go on hold for an indeterminate amount of time. After which, I get to answer another round of security questions. I think this is the furthest I’ve gone down this rabbit hole.
The rest of the call is… well, still not fun. Your representative will occasionally toss out the odd ‘sir’ or ‘mr’ now and then, just to remind me that I am not a Real Woman.
So it goes. Almost every. single. time.
(Admittedly, you do have the odd representative without a narrow worldview who can accept that sometimes women have deep ‘male’ voices.)
Oh. And I guess the other, other fun thing about dealing with you is that I still get paper correspondence in my old name. Which is weird, since if you still have a record of my previous name, why are all of your representatives so surprised that my voice sounds as it does?
In any case, the situation is this: I am a trans woman. My voice is very deep. It is, however, not a ‘male’ voice. You may or may not be surprised to learn that voices do not actually have a gender. Some voices are deep and resonant. Some are high and breathy. Various people with various kinds of bodies will have any kind of voice imaginable.
As far as I can tell, there are a few ways to deal with this. You can put some effort and money into giving your representatives the kind of sensitivity training necessary to deal with a diverse customer base. This is probably a bit much to hope for. Or you could simply put some kind of note in my file signalling to your representatives that the woman who has this account has a deep voice and maybe not go out of their way to humiliate me.
I’ll admit that I’d prefer the former option, but I’d accept the later if it would mean that calling your help centre was no longer a anxiety-inducing and painful experience.
Anyway, I’ll close this little letter thanking you for ruining yet another one of my days. I’m super happy to be one of your customers.
Ps. I anticipate that your response will be something along the lines of “security blah blah fraud blah blah protection”. Which yes, I do appreciate that your representatives are diligent in protecting my account. However, I find it super interesting that this problem began only after I changed my name. Did my account security matter less when you thought I was man? Insofar as I can accept this as a reason for why all the additional questions need to be asked, is it strictly necessary for your representatives to use gendered language like “sir, mr, and so on”? Or to make comments like “oh, you sound male”? Are these security enhancing features?