Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority

I'm frustrated.  In fact, I'm irate.  Indeed, I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more.

All of the institutions I rely on seem to be falling apart and seem to not be able to get them remedied.

There's not much I can do directly to stem the flow of oil in the Gulf as I watch in horror the live feed spewing oil at some unknown rate from a reservoir of unknown size for the foreseeable future, until the fools who drilled into it figure out how to stop it.  I relied on the federal bureaucrats whose duty it is to regulate the companies who engage in these activities to establish that they knew what they were doing and ensure that they did it.  All the while, they were going fishing with their pals in the industry, or watching porn on their government-supplied computers while at work.

So I set my sights lower, decided that while I can certainly think globally, I ought at least be able to act locally, to actually get results.

What triggers my angst today is the Aqueduct Authority, those fine folks who import our potable water from afar and deliver it to our homes.  I'm satisfied with that aspect of the company, but right now I'm very dissatisfied with their customer-facing systems, specifically the system that lets me pay my bill on-line, and the system that lets me ask for help and get it when something goes wrong.  I'll take each in turn.

I've been paying our water bill on-line for a long time.  There've been a few glitches over the years, but I've always been able to get past them with the help of Customer Service.  When I sat down this morning to make the monthly payment that's due tomorrow, I wasn't able to.  And, I noticed that the screen from which payments are made looked different.  I tried the login ID and password that has always worked before, without success.  I called Customer Service and asked if there were any changes made recently to the payment system; the CSR assured me that, "no, it is the same system as always."  I asked about the different appearance and she acknowledged that there were changes in the interface, but that it was the same system.

When I explained that I wasn't able to log in, as I had been able to do last month, only then did she tell me that, well, yes, you do have to re-register to be able to use the on-line bill pay screens.  I asked if customers were notified of these changes in advance, she said no and made a half-apology.

So, I set off to re-register.  It seemed simple enough:  enter your customer number and your name exactly as it appears on your statement.  I did that and got an error message saying essentially, "there is no such customer".

I've now placed a phone call to Kerry Shelby, Deputy Executive Director (there's no one on the web site identified as being responsible for billing or for customer service).  I'm waiting to hear back from him now.

Let's see how long it takes and what he has to say.

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