Monday, July 4, 2011

Password Protracted

It used to be that paying my bills meant sitting down once or twice a month and writing out a bunch of checks.

Not my checks

But as more and more of my monthly bills go online, I'm finding I have fewer checks to write. I now pay my mortgage, credit card, Vonage, Netflix, and cell phone bills all online. Most of them just deduct the amount automatically from my account.

So with this trend in mind, I noticed on my latest water bill that I could "manage [my] residential account online." That could be one less check I have to write every month. So I went online full of hope and wonder that the internets could lighten my bill-paying load.

I went online and filled out their form to register for an online account. I filled in my account number, name, email address, and created a username and password.

When I clicked "Submit" (Does anyone else think of an evil villain shouting "You will SUBMIT to me!!" whenever they click that button? Especially when it says "Submit Now!" I think of someone shouting it in a German accent), an error message came back:

"LoginId is required and between 8 and 12 characters."

Oh, bother. The standard username I use for these types of transactions is only 7 characters long.

So I expand it to my full email address, which a lot of sites use for your login.

The same error message comes back. Now it's too long. Sonofabitch! (I guess I should have read the words "between 8 and 12 characters" closer.) Now I have to use some stupid hybrid that is unique only for this one website.

I change it and submit again. Then I get the following error:

"Password is required and between 8 and 12 characters with at least 1 capital letter, 1 lower case letter, and 1 number."

Oh, for fuck's sake!

Here's the thing that frustrates me. I have dozens of online accounts. When I wrote about this issue three years ago, back then I counted 33 separate logins in my life. And I've added a lot more since then. Obviously, I'm not going to create a separate username and password for each one of them. I would go insane. So I have a standard username and password that I use for most of them. (On those kinds of sites where they test the strength of your password, mine always comes out as "very strong.")

But my standard login is not good enough for the water company. They want me to create a brand-new, unique username and password that consists of capital letters, Greek symbols, puns, and retina scans.

Jesus, water people, get over yourselves. It's an account for my water bill, which I probably won't log into once a month. It's not a security clearance to enter Fort Knox. Even if someone did hack into my account, what are they going to do? Pay my water bill for me?

Until the water company gets a more realistic attitude about their place of importance among my online accounts, I'll continue to write them checks.


Sarah said...


Not by choice, mind you. When I signed up for a checking account at my bank, they were like, "We can give you boring blue checks or fuzzy animal checks for $5," and I was all, "Um, I'm broke. Boring blue please."

And then they gave me the fuzzy animals anyway. And charged me for them.

Tim said...