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Incompetence by Design

Posted on Oct 25th, 2006
Written by Lee Odden
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    Recently a credit card of mine was identified by the issuing bank as possibly having been included in a set of stolen data or online tampering. A new card was issued. Then I went about updating services paid with this card.

    One of these services was our phone company and DSL provider, Frontier Communications. After not being able to login to the online bill pay I called and was informed the only way to change the card on file was to login via online bill pay. My description of not being able to login or successfully retrieve login information was falling on deaf ears, so I restate this information. I am informed of Frontier’s excellent security measures and the rep reiterates that the only way to change the card on file is through logging in online, knowing full well that I cannot do that.

    Then the customer service rep gives me the account number and pin. I wonder why that is possible with such excellent security policies that do not allow me to easily PAY MY BILL. 🙂 I enter the provided account information online and am responded to by various failure messages. The Frontier customer service rep indicates this is not possible. I discover Firefox 2.0 will not allow all digits of the account number to be entered, but MSIE will. It still doesn’t work.

    I ask, I plead, I demand: “Is there any other way I can pay my bill?” The Frontier rep says, there is an automated system via phone that can be used and that there is a “convenience fee” for doing so. I am connected with the system. I enter my account number and the response is a busy signal.

    Eventually I get through and make the payment though the automated phone payment system, but am still not able to login to online bill pay or retrieve info that will assist in doing so.

    SO. What in the world does this have to do with SEO? I suppose I could related it to bad design and indexing issues that make it difficult for search engine spiders to crawl a web site. A search engine spider without feelings will get “algorithmically frustrated” with not being able to crawl complex urls or links embedded in JavaScript as I did with not being able to make a simple payment today.

    Processes in web design and development that result in consistent indexing problems is incompetence by design as much as Frontier Communications’ overzealous, yet inept security policies.

    Now I’m not sure if Frontier is savvy enough to monitor the blogosphere for what it’s customers are saying but if they continue to make this exceedingly difficult to simply pay a bill I have a choice: Quietly change providers after 6 years as a customer or loudly change providers and blog the whole, messy thing. I’ve documented everything and emailed their customer service so we’ll see what the response is.

    In the meantime if you are a web designer, you would do well to make your web site crawlable. Make it part of your process to create web sites that are easy for search engines to find and crawl. You may be rewarded with surprising results.