20 November 2019

Barnet Council - Capita - data harvest reduced

Capita recently demanded that Mr Mustard prove he was still entitled to the single person discount and he had a choice of completing the form they sent him or going on line and completing a form, as above. Mr Mustard started by having a look at the on line form and decided that his telephone number and email address should not be compulsory information.

Mr Mustard complained to Barnet Council and they have half agreed with him.

I can advise that the email address is collected to provide automatic notification to the customer that their review has been submitted successfully. As part of this notification the customer is given a reference number that they can quote if they have any queries about us receiving the online form. We do not send any other response to the review.

I am satisfied that the collection of the email address is not excessive and that the collection of this information is necessary and relevant to the processing of form.

The telephone number is collected in case there is a need to contact the customer about their form, however I agree that this should be optional field as alternative contact details are available. In my view making both the email address and telephone number mandatory could be considered as unnecessary.

With that in mind I can confirm that the form is being redesigned, making the email address mandatory, and the telephone number optional. This will become live in the next three weeks.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Mr Mustard does not agree with the reasoning as they could simply provide a confirmation of receipt reference number on line. If they want to contact you they can write as it is a property that is the subject of the enquiry, it isn't going anywhere, or they can make an email address optional should you want to be contacted that way.

Mr Mustard sent his response in by post and the form does not say you must supply an email address and a telephone number, boxes which Mr Mustard would have put a dash in anyway. Did Capita send an acknowledgement that they had received his completed form, no they didn't so they only want to send one if it doesn't cost them anything.

Did they tell Mr Mustard the outcome of their review?
No, of course they didn't, as they only get paid when someone loses their single person discount, so they want to cut out all possible costs, even at the expense of providing a resident with the reassurance that all is well.

Rather than being left in the dark, Mr Mustard has now written to Capita to ask them to confirm the outcome of the review and to see the data on which they based their decision.

Mr Mustard is also now going to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner to see if they agree that the collection of an email address on line is not necessary, it should be optional.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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