Stupid CL&P Website


Connecticut Light and Power wants my money. And I (sorta’) want to give it to them.

But they’re making it damned hard to do so.

Deciding to do it electronically, I ventured to the CL&P website. I was suspicious that I’d already registered with the website, but I didn’t remember anything about it. So, without checking my password list (yes, I have one, and it’s about 300 entries long…), I decided to reregister, because that will tell me what I need to know, usually, such as what my username might look like and what my password might be.

As I reregistered on this page, I was presented with a list of “secret questions” which, as Sarah Palin can tell you, aren’t so secret after all. These are the questions:

  • What is your mother’s maiden name?
  • What is your most memorable childhood phone number?
  • What was your favorite place to visit as a child?
  • Who is your favorite actor, musician, or artist?
  • Who was your favorite teacher?
  • What is the first and last name of your first friend?

There is exactly one question that is a simple fact. The rest are completely subjective depending on what you remember your “favorite” or “most memorable” something might be. Oh, and you webmasters who are smugly thinking, “Ha! We’re better than that. We use dates!” can go spit, too, because you never tell us what format that date might be in, and I’m somehow expected to remember it. (Did I enter it as April 1, 1934, or is it 1 April 1934, or is it 4/1/34, or is it 4/1/1934…? Crap.) Even that phone number option is crap because there are too many ways to enter that, too.

So I decided to try registering with my mother’s maiden name, even though it is 100% contrary to my belief that nobody should have that information outside the credit reporting agencies. But since my identity has been stolen already, what the hell…

As I suspected, though, I was told that I had already registered. I looked it up in the monster password list and sure enough, I was! I then tried to enter my written-down, never-to-be-forgotten username and password only to discover they were wrong! (How that happened, I don’t know.) Sigh. I’d have to use the “reset my password” feature. Sigh, again. Because that required that I answer the question as to who my favorite teacher was.

Who? indeed! Not only Who? but How? As in, How the heck did I spell his or her name when I registered the first time. Did I refer to him or her as I would another adult, such as “Sara Beth Ryan”, or was it “Mrs. Ryan”? For that matter, who was it in the first place?! My favorite teacher? What was I thinking?! Oh, I know what I was thinking. I was thinking “I’ll just write this password down and I won’t have to use this stupid question.”

Wrong. Thank you, Ed.

I thought, being the rational human that I am, that I’d have them reset my password for me. Since this is an online thing, I thought I’d use the Contact Us page. Click! Now, you tell me: which of the following options covers “website access problems”?

  • Customer Service Center
  • CL&P’s Business Solutions Specialists
  • Corporate Numbers
  • Credit and Collection Center
  • Call in a Meter Reading
  • Business Metering Options
  • Report Energy Theft
  • Write
  • Email

Certainly not “Customer Service Center.” I have yet to meet a company where the customer service center people can do diddly-squat with website account problems. So… Email (sic) it is.

This same “Contact Us” page has a “Comments” field into which I dutifully, lovingly, carefully, composed a superb complaint and request. After submitting the form, however, I was told that I was limited to 300 characters. Wha…? Come on, lazy website designer! Come on, idiot in Customer Service who picked that arbitrary number! Consider that six lines of JavaScript could count characters or, heck, even just telling me from the start not to bother composing a letter and that I have only 300 characters to work with would be incredibly useful.

After I submitted my now-terse request for a reset, I was told that my E-mail would be responded to within four business days. Four. Four?! But for immediate assistance, I could call the customer service center… Except now, I can’t! Let’s say that the customer service people do know how to deal with website problems. They dutifully reset my password and, great, I’m back in business.

And then the customer service department E-mail processor gets my E-mail, forwards it on to the next guy, and a week after I got online, I’m now back off line again. Presumably, they’d tell me about this somehow, and I presume it would be by phone, but since there’s nothing saying they won’t try E-mailing me and there’s nothing saying it’ll get through the spam filter in the first place…

Screw you, CL&P; I’ve had enough. You can continue to process my checks manually. It’ll cost you more and will save my being frustrated with your website.

Update: 11-10-2008 I called customer service and that lady asked me what I’d like my password to be. I told her, she reset it, and I still can’t log in. Sigh. I’ll have to try that with the next person on the phone, I guess.

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