As I am sure some of you know, I am a tad non-conformist. Not in the same way as all those other non-conformists, obviously.
Some times this can cause a slight nuisance.
For example, I have a short email address, only 6 characters in total. It is, of course, fully compliant with the specification for email addresses (the relevant RFCs) so not actually non-conformist at all. It is, of course, unique to me, as are all email addresses, so again not really non-conformist. There are many others who have such a short email address (everyone in my family for a start).
Sadly, lots of web sites make assumptions about what is a valid email address and will not accept one so short. This is just sloppy. There is a standard for email, and it is not that hard to validate against that standard. There are tools to do that. But instead, designers assume they know what an email address looks like and make up their own broken rules. Getting this fixed is hard work, people simply do not care. (In some ways I can understand - even I have a number of minor niggles in our systems still on the list to get corrected, but we do try).
Fortunately, with email, it is relatively easy to have an alternative email address. I have some in the domain stupidwebsitethatdoesnotunderstandshortdomains.e.gg and rfc2822.me.uk and temporaryemailaddress.co.uk that I use some times.
Many people have the same problem where web sites refuse to accept email addresses using punctuation which is specifically listed as valid in an email address in the RFC. Some sites will not even allow a simple plus character.
The other problem I have is my mobile phone number. It is a Bracknell 01344 number. I can make and receive calls on that number using my iPhone, as well as sending and receiving texts. It works in every way like a mobile. Whilst this is a tad non-conformist it is not new. When Orange launched over 20 years ago they offered London and Birmingham landline numbers as an option (for an incoming call charge). I very nearly got one of these at the time, and wish I had.
But, once again, people assume they know best and expect a UK mobile to start 07. One culprit is Barclays - I am unable to use their mobile banking app or pingit (and hence paym). This is annoying, and unlike the email example, I don't have an 07 number I can use instead, not any more.
But, for both of these issues, we have a cunning plan. I am pretty sure I am not the only one trying this at present as it was discussed on irc I think. The plan is simple. Sign up for a service using an email/number that they will accept (which is where temporaryemailaddress.co.uk comes in). Then require them to correct and update the information they hold on me on their computer systems in accordance with principle 4 of The Data Protection Act 1998:
"Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date."
The data controller has an obligation to adhere to the principles as per section 4(4). So, basically, it is the law that they correct the email/phone number that they hold!
I am just writing to the data controller at Barclays registered office, having got a Tesco mobile SIM (which comes with 10p credit on it) and using that to get mobile banking and pingit on my iPhone before throwing the SIM away. Now I am asking that they correct and update the mobile number to my 01344 number. We'll see what happens.
In the mean time, I can report one success. The DVLA have web pages (I think for tax discs and the like) and will email a confirmation to you. They did not accept the short email address used by my father. As this was only for the confirmation email and not data they had stored, the DPA trick would not work, but it seems my father is good at pestering, and apparently the DVLA do now accept his email address - well done Dad!
Also, I was impressed with Uber as I had no issue signing up and getting the confirmation text on my 01344 mobile number. So some people can do it right.
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