Property Biz Canada

An open letter to utilities and service providers

Dear SaskPower/SaskEnergy/SaskTel:

I am a commercial real estate agent in Saskatoon. I’ve dealt with your companies on behalf of landlords and owners over the years.

Columnist Kelly Macsymic says some utilities and providers of services to CRE customers need a better way of allowing access to client accounts.

Columnist Kelly Macsymic says some utilities and providers of services to CRE customers need a better way of allowing access to client accounts.

Commercial hookups are different than residential services in that commercial clients will often require a number of people to be authorized to deal with the account.

This isn’t a new issue; I’m sure you’ve been dealing with it for years.

And with tightening of security measures, I can appreciate that you need to cover yourselves over fraudulent access into these accounts. But let’s come up with a better system than asking to speak to the owner of the building or the last person authorized on the account.

I’ll go ahead and make an assumption that you cannot authenticate the sound of an owner’s voice against someone who may be impersonating them. So why are you asking?

I won’t shame you by pointing out who has the better practices in confirming identity. Let’s just say you’ve all dropped the ball with me over the years.

Verification leaves something to be desired

Starting out, I always take the straight forward approach by immediately identifying who I am, who I work for and why I’m calling. All of which are verifiable facts based on my profession and company website.

Recently, I was asked twice to put the owner of the property on the line as I wasn’t authorized to cancel a service on a sold property.

On one of those calls, the owner simply picked up the phone and said hi; in the other instance, you did ask him to rattle off his birthday and his driver’s licence. I think it’s safe to say a stolen wallet would have contained both of those items of information.

How you consider this to be a sure-fire way to detect identity theft is beyond me.

Rogers does it right

I won’t disclose which of you three didn’t bother with authorization at all. I had account numbers on all three, including yours, so I guess you believed I was legitimate.

This is a task that many people in administrative positions are given. You would hardly expect the CEO of a company to call in to change service. Nor will that CEO have time to call in to change or add authorizations.

Rogers, for example, understands these challenges and not only assigns an account number but also applies an access code for commercial clients. This code does not appear on any billing information, but remains with the account for its duration.

This allows any employee with access to the account number and access code the ability to make authorized changes.

Creating a similar, uncomplicated system could save some frustrating minutes for all us who sit on hold only to be told we can’t complete everyday requests.

Patiently waiting for change,

Kelly Macsymic


Read more from: CommercialFeatured ColumnProperty Biz CanadaThe Saskatchewan Edge

Kelly Macsymic

About the Author ()

I am a gal of all trades and wear a few hats at my current job though nothing quite as esteemed as my 1996 Unity Western Days Rodeo Queen crowned cowboy hat. I spend my time as a sales and leasing agent at ICR Commercial Real Estate (ICR), in addition to my other gig as general sidekick and business manager for Barry Stuart at Stuart Commercial. Inc. I started my journey in the small town of Unity, SK. My grandmother encouraged me to create mock newspapers which I, like any good keener, produced in abundance. My early publication days came to a quick end when I broke the news in one of these homemade papers with word of a surprise birthday party for my grandfather, and proudly presented it to him. Undaunted, I pursued the news bug all the way to Lethbridge College and was gainfully employed for several years in weekly papers in rural Saskatchewan. After a few adventures at the University of Regina and abroad in England, opportunity knocked and I accepted the chance to move to Saskatoon. I landed at Barry’s doorstep and have since been taken under his wing. He’s shown me the ropes at ICR through his most capable hands as one of ICR’s top producers. We are a dynamic team. I relish the challenges (most of the time) he throws at me daily. My other commitments include BPW (Business and Professional Women) Saskatoon in addition to volunteering as president of the Holliston Community Association.

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