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September 17, 2005 12:03 AM

Broken: Time Warner Cable registration

Twc_brokenMary Jane Broadbent writes:

I recently had Time Warner Cable installed in my apartment. Upon receiving my bill in the mail, I went to their website to pay it online. Step 1 in the registration process requires that a person enter their account number. Then in Step 2 (see attached image), they echo the account number and ask me to type it again. Broken!


i would be willing to put up with that in exchange for being able to afford cable.

Posted by: gmangw at September 17, 2005 12:21 AM

Well It seems like a lot of pages have started to ask you to verify stuff more offten, like they don't trust you. I don't find this broken but more just an other inconvienance on the cusumers part.

Posted by: phil at September 17, 2005 03:21 AM

It's pretty much the same as 'sign here, here, here, initial here, then sign this, this, this, this, and this.' isn't it? of course that's in a contract and you certainly shouldn't have to use your signature's equivalent eight hundred times just to pay a bill. Especially when they put the number right at the top of the page, then typing your number again provides no service whatsoever.

Posted by: Bob at September 17, 2005 07:31 AM

I consider it broken if the page shows you your account number and then asks you for your account number.

It's like calling up for customer support for any given product, they ask you to key in your account number, you wait on hold for eons, finally get a live person and the first thing they ask for is your account number.

Posted by: Faolan at September 17, 2005 07:38 AM


Inconvenience = Broken

Thank you.

Posted by: Kevin at September 17, 2005 01:46 PM

I think it is a typo. It makes no sense to ask for the account number when the information is already there. I think it was meant to say "if this information is incorrect please provide the following information". Then a correction would be made for future use. I may be way off base but it seems logical. I dont think this qualifys as broken.

Posted by: claude at September 17, 2005 02:03 PM

>Faolan: It's like calling up for customer support for any given product, they ask you to key in your account number, you wait on hold for eons, finally get a live person and the first thing they ask for is your account number.

Yeah, been there, done that. Only with our system it polled the caller ID data to match it with an account, and pulled up the customer's data on the agent's computer the moment the call was answered.

Except out of a bazillion calls a day, a significant number of folks are calling from a friend's/neighbor's/relative's/office phone, and the system pulled up the wrong account info.

This was still a better system than asking for the phone number or account number, because even more people provided the WRONG NUMBERS.

Customers key in or reference the wrong account and then blame the company when they are given the wrong information. My wife, who worked in banking, dealt with this every day from folks who had multiple accounts at the same bank, and who inevitably got pissy when they were the ones providing the wrong account number.

So in most cases, the apparent brokenness of the system is simply a reaction to the brokenness of the customer who can't remember his own phone number, which phone number he used for a given account, what his account number is, or even appreciate the fact that yes, there is more than one Jimmy Bob Blowhard in the United States who is a customer of this company.

That said, I have no idea why in ~this~ particular instance they do this.

Posted by: Erich at September 17, 2005 02:22 PM

Minor irrelevancy: Why is the zip code (5 digits) field longer than the account number (about 10 digits) field?

I think when we're all on videophones and companies use facial recognition software and voiceprinting to match up our accounts, it will be a good thing for the customer.

Until then, we just have to jump through the hoops of all the companies that verify info like this either because of all the people who punch in the wrong data by accident or for security purposes to prevent automated fraud.

Posted by: Hoki at September 17, 2005 02:33 PM

Erich: Good point. Never thought of it from that side as I've never conducted my business at someone elses home or business and I always have the account # in front of me when I do call.

Posted by: Faolan at September 17, 2005 07:01 PM


Inconvenience without reason = broken

Taking med school to become a doctor is also inconvenient, yet not broken. See my modification to your statement.

Posted by: Bob at September 17, 2005 07:02 PM

Hoki: "...companies use facial recognition software..."

See, that'd be funny, "Please press face forward for recognition.." "Please press face forward again just in case that wasn't your face on your head that we just scanned..." "Now on one leg.........clap..." loll

Posted by: noname at September 17, 2005 09:14 PM

... and do the hokey pokey while singing your favorite Barry Manilow hit. And what ever you do, don't grease your hair- the computers register you as Elvis.

Posted by: Sido at September 18, 2005 12:20 AM

Yeah Like dell tech support.. where they always ask for you to key in the Express service code and then when you get a person they ask for the express service code first thing too..

Posted by: infinity at September 18, 2005 02:16 AM


I think it is a typo. It makes no sense to ask for the account number when the information is already there. I think it was meant to say "if this information is incorrect... I dont think this qualifys as broken.

I agree with your view of it being a typo however disagree that it's not broken.

Just because you can explain it doesn't mean it's not broken typo = broken

Posted by: tool at September 18, 2005 06:15 AM

what I find broken is that I can't seem to open the link, all I get is garbled text

Posted by: ChuckW at September 18, 2005 07:49 AM

I think it's broken to expect people to remember all the numbers we have today. Personally I have 4 bank accounts, my mother's two accts, pin numbers for ALL of those, not to mention home phones, cell phones, office phones and faxes. It gets a bit out of hand. Customer service people need to remember their title is CUSTOMER SERVICE. Patience goes a long way toward fixing things and making sure they remain unbroken.

Posted by: Lady Jane at September 18, 2005 09:20 AM


Posted by: Bob at September 18, 2005 03:23 PM

I still agree with you Faolan, even tho you're giving in to Erich. I get annoyed every time I'm asked twice for my numbers (namely when I call my cell phone company)- why can't they just ask for all my info when the person gets on the phone? Why should I have to punch my numbers in in the first place if they don't trust me to get them right?!

Posted by: ambrocked at September 18, 2005 10:38 PM

Hah, that's pretty funny - Broadbent using Broadband ;-)

such a nice wordplay.

Posted by: dusoft at September 23, 2005 07:41 AM

Um, er, while it is a certainty that there are website admins and content-managers who smoke copious amounts of crack (cut with meth and ground glass, of course), actually, the situation under discussion may not always be so broken:

In the interest of defeating automated login/password/account#/whatever -snooping programs that roam the Web, as well as crackers running packet-sniffers, and so on and so forth, some of the sites that do the "ask-for-your-info-then-print-it-on-the-next-page-and-ask-you-for-it-again thing may be working (for you) to protect the info you're posting.

So, the next time you experience it, check to see if your info that they (re-)post on the second (or "confirmation") page is actually text...if it's really an image (of your account numbers or whatever), then that's something that you or I can recognize (it's a picture--often a goofy-looking, wavy, maybe polka-dotted image--of numbers/letters...but, yeah, we can read it), but a snooping Web-app can't (it's looking for un-encrypted, actual text...otherwise it's not gonna recognize the info for what it'll just see a reference to an image, and it isn't interested in pictures), and the packet-sniffing cracker's only looking for numeric sequences that indicate Visa/MC/AmEx account number / expiration date data...and he's probably using a program to do it while he's sleeping, smoking crack, or whatever . . .

Just a thought.

- Chris Pickle

Posted by: Jim Beam at September 25, 2005 12:46 AM

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