Friday 19 October 2012

I am extremely annoyed in these days of widespread identity theft

I am extremely annoyed with a company called BHSF (whatever that stands for), even though they appear to be a legit company who are ‘authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority’. Mind you, reading the business press since 2008 makes me wonder how much protection the ordinary punter can expect via regulation by the FSA.

This outfit is carrying out a survey because, I quote, ‘good businesses like BHSF listen to their customers’ views’. Well, here are mine:

1                     Don’t send me unsolicited letters containing questionnaires that are already partly filled in with confidential information about me.
Because I don’t like junk mail, but I understand it’s a part of life and some of it will get through no matter what, but for that mail which gets through the various nets, I want to be able to bin it with the least possible hassle. I seriously resent spending my time having to shred your letters because they contain confidential information. DON’T DO IT!
2                     If you want to conduct a survey about who buys your products and what they think of them, then label it as such.
Because it is dishonest to head both your letter and your questionnaire, ‘Higher Education survey 2012’, when it is nothing of the kind. It is a set of questions about your products.
3                     And what are my overall views on a company that sends me a dishonestly labelled questionnaire, partly filled in with confidential data, on which I have to spend time (shredding etc) that I can ill-afford?
My impression is that you’re dishonest and lack integrity.

I’m now going to catch up on the things I should have been doing such as packing for a business trip. Perhaps you would like to post the dates of my absence on your website for the benefit of any opportunist thieves who would like to try their luck.

So, BHSF, if you’ve listened to my views, please feel free to respond to this blog. I’m not holding my breath.

[Note to opportunist thieves who would like to try their luck: the house won’t be empty and when the dog has finished with you, it will not only be the BHSF questionnaire that looks shredded]


  1. Dear Dr Grubb

    Thank you for the emailed link to your blog, in which you express your annoyance with identity theft and refer to a survey sent to you by BHSF with your details partially completed. We sent you this survey because you purchased our insurance product, the Health Scheme Corporate cash plan through your workplace and pay us a monthly premium. Therefore, you are a policyholder of BHSF Limited and have indicated that we are able to contact you regarding your views. Information on our ethical policy and our 139-year history can be found at our website (

    The survey seeks the views of our policyholders who are employed by a number of higher education institutions and therefore, we chose the name “Higher Education Survey 2012” for the heading of the questionnaire. In order to identify your response, we included brief details, such as your surname and policy number, on the questionnaire. You provided us with these details when you registered your insurance policy and they have not been purchased or acquired via a third party.

    I hope that this explanation allays any concerns you may have, although please contact me via our email address if you have any other questions or concerns. In the intervening time, I wish you a safe journey on your business trip.

    With kind regards,

    Mike Tresham
    Operations Manager

    1. Dear Mike Tresham,
      I will certainly never buy a product from your company if it results in the details of this being published in a public forum such as this. Does it not occur to you that purchasing private health insurance might be something I might not wish to share with everyone and his dog?

  2. No cigar for that response, Mr Tresham. The fact that I have one of your policies from years ago is not the point. The point is that you sent a questionnaire partly filled in with confidential information. You refer to including ‘brief details, such as your surname and policy number, on the questionnaire’. That is disingenuous. There was more than policy number and surname included and I assume from the wording that you were aware of that. My point was that it is a bad strategy to include this type of information on a document I have not explicitly requested from you.

    I’m not impressed with the explanation for the title either. The title ‘Higher Education survey 2012’ suggests a survey about Higher Education. It does not say, or imply, that it is a survey about your products sent to people who work in Higher Education.

    What stands out from this response? On the good side, it came quickly. On the bad side, there was no apology, just defensiveness. Also on the bad side, there was an attempt at obfuscation on the issue of the personal confidential data. My advice: customer relations training.

  3. I absolutely agree with you, Penny. So many companies are so focussed on selling their products that they have forgotten about the wishes of their potential customers. We come across this lack of customer concern in many ways; unsolicited mail, unsolicited phone calls, intrusive knocks at the door by salesmen. I suspect that most people are perfectly capable of deciding for themselves when and whether they wish to buy a product. This sort of marketing, thinly disguised as a survey, always produces a negative response from me. It's time these companies examined what they are doing and found out the real views of their customers, without actually attempting to sell them something on the way. My general response is to send the stuff back with a demand that they send me no more.