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A Row with the National Trust

I was on the phone to the National Trust this afternoon, and the conversation incensed me so much that I hung up on them and fired off an email of complaint:

I phoned up this afternoon to attempt to buy a gift membership for my elderly parents. First, you wanted my date of birth. That is absolutely unacceptable; you have no need of that information. I am not a supporter, and now never will be. For your purposes I am nothing but a supplier of a valid credit card and billing address. My DoB is deeply personal, and if it gets into the wrong hands would leave me vulnerable to identity theft. I NEVER hand that out to people who do not have a valid official reason. Which you don’t. 

But your appallingly lax approach to personal security continued. You then wanted my parents’ dates of birth. If anything, that is worse! Cyber security experts are forever warning the elderly to be careful of plausible fraudsters, and NEVER to hand out personal details over the phone. And yet here you are refusing to sell a membership without deeply personal and intrusive data. 

At that point I put the phone down. I will now NOT be giving my parents NT membership for Christmas. I rather think that they will enjoy membership of the V&A, who are perfectly happy to sell me a membership without requiring me to compromise my family’s identity and online security. 

I work in the IT sector, and we are given regular refreshers about personal data. It sounds like your organisation could do with some very basic training for absolute beginners. It is a fundamental principle NEVER to hand out unnecessary information which could be used to compromise one’s personal details. I am absolutely appalled at your organisation for being so shockingly lax in its approach to personal data.

I should like to receive a full and reasoned argument as to why you believe that you require this data and how you secure it. Is the database encrypted? Who has access to it and how do you control that? Why on earth do you think you want it in the first place? For your information, I shall be warning my colleagues about your fundamentally flawed approach to personal information. It would make a good case study in how NOT to proceed.

I trust you will take this complaint seriously, and look forward to hearing from you in the very near future.

I’m not holding my breath, but I felt a lot better having got that off my chest. 

{ 3 } Comments

  1. pauld | 10 December 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Personally, i’m appalled by National Trust and wouldnt join or help them at all for their opressive dictarorial approach to people in areas they cover.

    If I were you i’d join the National Trust for Scotland, its cheaper and you get reciprocal arrangements with the National Trust. I think it was £36 a year and you get 2 parking permits and same number of magazines per year.

  2. pauld | 10 December 2016 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    here you go https://www.nts.org.uk/Membership/Monthly/

  3. Hugh W | 15 December 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    That is wierd. I have been a member for years and have never been asked for that information. You are quite right, they do not need it unless they offer discounts to pensioners. It will be interesting to see if you get a response.