Graham O'Brien thought he was just unlucky when he couldn't access his bank account by phone. But it turned out that the call center staff thought he was a woman trying to defraud the bank because of his squeaky voice:
Mr O'Brien's problems began in July when he rang his bank to check whether his salary had gone into his account.
He answered the security questions correctly, but the male call centre worker placed him on hold. "He then came back on and told me their computer system had gone down and he couldn't help me," said Mr O'Brien.
"I thought nothing of it at the time and ended the call." However next time he rang he was told to visit a branch, and when he did so was told a 'suspect customer', possibly a woman, had been trying to access his account and it had been suspended.
They said it would be reactivated, but the same thing happened again and again. The embarrassing truth finally came out after Mr O'Brien, who lectures in business management and law at a college in Leeds, made an official complaint.
"The ridiculous part about it is that any tele-banking customer has to answer questions about themselves as a security measure to avoid fraud," he said. "I did this on every occasion, and they still wouldn't accept that I was Graham O'Brien."
He insisted he had a claim for sexual discrimination. "Just because a man has a high-pitched voice, does that mean it's a woman?