Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Please Verify Your Account Information

Many service companies offer a service by which internet-connected people such as myself can sign up to receive electronic copies of the monthly bill in lieu of a paper statement. One such company that I do business with is the local electric company, Puget Sound Energy. Years ago when I moved into my current abode, I signed up for their "e-bill" plan to pay for my electricity electronically. Why have them bother sending me paper every month when it is much more convenient for me to hop online and pay the bill on the internets? So, every month I receive an email that tells me how much I owe and provides me with a link to their website where I can log in and fork over the dough.

So far, so good—until this month, when the regularly scheduled email contained a link to a slightly different page. On the new page, I was prompted to log in using my user name and password, just like always, but when I clicked "submit," it brought me to a new page that demanded more information. Specifically, it required me to enter my name "as it appears on your bill" as well as my account number. Now, I'm sure this would be no problem for the uncivilized masses who still receive a paper bill in their CRAP-box every month, but I haven't had a tree-murder bill from them since I moved in. You might think that the monthly email I receive would contain this useful information, but of course if you thought that you would be WRONG, oh so wrong. The email contains no reference to my name, and doesn't even give me the dignity of a number, showing only the last four digits of my account number with the rest ****'d out. The only access I have to the actual bill where this information is available is on the website, which you may recall won't let me log in without providing this information! What a stellar design!

Thankfully, I was finally able to get into the website to send my money to PSE, but I had to use that archaic telephone contraption and speak to a real person to obtain the necessary information. I'd still like to have a word with whoever came up with the idea for this "verification" requirement, though. What's the risk that they're trying to prevent? Do they have a lot of problems with unauthorized people paying other people's electric bills? Also, why didn't they ask for something that I would actually know, like my address or home phone or something? Why would you pick the two pieces of information that are found only on the very item you're restricting access to?

The only reasonable answer I can come up with to these questions is that maybe the people that answer their phones were lonely or something.
Categories: Capitalism, Internet


Blogger Father Cory said...

And yet, people say we're better off with more and more technology.

5:51 PM, March 07, 2006  
Anonymous Cydney said...

Yeah, I don't know how Kip was ever so obsessed with it.

2:22 PM, March 08, 2006  
Blogger MatthewOfTheWest said...

That sounds like a very reasonable explaination. Loneliness is a terrible thing.

10:22 PM, March 09, 2006  

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