A MUM claims she has been repeatedly mistaken for a man for a DECADE – because of her deep voice.
Lorraine Chademunhu, 42, said using the phone to contact her bank, restaurants and almost any other service is nearly impossible.
Although it may sound amusing, living through the situation is anything but. It's caused a lot of heartache for Lorraine, who has found Barclays bank one of the main offenders – phone banking has been particularly hard, but she's had issues in branch too.
"I'm a nurse and work unsociable hours. I don't have time to be skipping into Barclays," she said.
"Last time I did that the person behind the counter told me I had to phone up customer services anyway.
"I did it there in store and then passed the phone across. I had to hear them having a chat about whether or not I was a woman.
"They look at me up and down before chuckling and say 'I know'.
"I don't dress like a bloke or look like one. It's just my voice. It was humiliating.
"Do I have to take my clothes off in order for you lot to get the picture? After I left that bank, I got in my car and I was in tears."
The mum-of-two from Chessington, Surrey, revealed booking tables in restaurants can also be traumatic – so now she just gives the name 'Derek'.
She explained: "I can't even add up the amount of hours I've spent on the phone being passed from pillar to post.
"I'm just so insulted and humiliated.
"I get it all – Sir, Mr Lorraine, buddy, the list goes on.
"I tell them you are speaking to Lorraine and then they just turn around and say, 'Well is she there?'
"When I book a table at a restaurant I just give the name 'Derek' to save hassle.
"If I have to phone the AA when I breakdown or if I'm calling someone to fix the house I just go along with being a man to make life easier."
In fact Lorraine is used to the situation now, but she is fuming that Barclays still hasn't caught on.
She's been with the bank for 20 years and always passes security checks, but is continually quizzed because of how she sounds.
"I do get that security measures are a thing but this isn't as if this has happened, once, twice or even just a dozen times," she said.
"It's almost like I have to grow a pair of balls.
"It's the same conversation over and over again. Yes and no back and forth."
Part of me though, do I have to take my clothes off in order for you lot to get the picture?
"I didn't ask for this voice," she said.
"I've just had enough."
One of the problems is that Lorraine's local branch has shut, meaning she's become increasingly reliant on telephone banking.
She has even had her account blocked multiple times because of her mistaken identity.
Last week while going through the security checks with Barclays, Lorraine was addressed as 'Sir' at least 19 times when phoning for a new bank card.
She added: "If I were transgender I would be able to make a big show about it.
"I was born a woman and I'm being denied that because Barclays' customer service is that poor.
"I've been with them for 20 years.
"I've thought about changing banks but because it's tied up with the house it's so difficult."
What Barclays Bank said:
A spokesman for Barclays said: “We have apologised to Miss Chademunhu for the inconvenience she has experienced.
"Protecting our customers’ accounts is our top priority, and we have robust measures in place to identify and verify a customer when they call.
“We have reached out to Miss Chademunhu to implement a verification process that will identify her more quickly in the future.”
"It really does get me down and it's horrible for my children to see.
"Of course they've grown up with me having a deep voice so never pick up on it.
"But they do pick up on my humiliation.
"I've considered taking things up legally but it's unfortunately it's not a crime.
"I've just had enough.
"It's not fair on me. It's emotionally draining having to prove who I am."
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