I was in the middle of a meeting on-line when – suddenly – my Internet went out. Sadly, my connection isn’t quite at the appliance level of “set it and forget it”. I have to fix it every so often. I spent five or ten minutes going through my normal procedures. I turned off the modem, turned off the router, and rebooted my machine. None of the normal things worked. I rummaged around in the piles of paper on my desk and found this month’s bill with the tech support number. Despite warnings of “high call volume”, the cable company picked up within a couple of minutes.
The problem – I was told – was not technical; rather I had not paid my bill. That was news to me. I was holding this month’s bill in my hand; you’d think it would have mentioned I was late. Apparently, unlike every other utility I have, I pay the cable company for services already rendered. If a payment doesn’t go through, the system shuts down immediately before the next billing cycle. The support person helpfully suggested I update my account information with another credit card and everything would be all set… except I could only enter my information on-line. They weren’t prepared to take it over the phone.
Unlike my previous encounter with the cable company, this woman did pick up on the Catch-22 situation. After a couple of minutes, she was able to reinstate my Internet connection with the notation in my account that I would pay it off immediately. Fine. I reset everything again and tried to log into my personal account website. No dice. I hadn’t used the account site for a few months. I checked my password database to make sure I was typing it in correctly. As I was entering it for the fifth or sixth time, I noticed a new text block on the login form. Passwords had to be between 7 and 12 characters long. I checked my password and confirmed it was 13 characters long. There was no text block allowing me to reset my password or send me a new one via e-mail. I had call back to create a new login from scratch.
I logged in and immediately ran into issues because while the cable company calls me “BOB”, I go by “ROBERT” at the bank. Another phone call got that taken care of. I entered my information, set up the payment feature and made sure they would continue to send me a bill in the mail rather than on-line. Finally, I entered my so-called late payment. To my surprise, the Internet showed my account was all paid up and it rejected my manual payment because it was too much money. I made one last phone call, asking – nay, begging them to please take my f$%^ing money. Another fifteen minutes passed before I was able to get the payment accepted. A few minutes later, I had an e-mail receipt in my inbox. I laughed when I read the first line: