Letter to Charter Communications

May - 24 2017 | By

Dear Minions of the Insane Monopoly;

My check for the current amount due is enclosed. Please also accept my sincere disgust for your cavalier treatment of an honest, reliable paying customer.

For several years I have enjoyed the convenience of paying my bill online. Lately, it has changed from a convenience to a growing annoyance. Finally, the waste of my time became so unbearable that I was forced to waste even more time obtaining a mailing address.

I am tired of being treated like a criminal when I try to log in to pay my bill. Not once, but over and over IN ONE SESSION I am presented with a time-wasting game to “prove” that I am not a bot. When I have completed the test, the website sits grinding its gears until it times out, and then demands that I do it again. Rinse and repeat.

And there is no way out of this automated Hell! Why should I have to “prove that I’m not a robot” only to chat with your robots? Seriously? I tried a phone call, and never got past a brainless recording! The very next day, I had a problem with eBay, which was pleasantly resolved with a phone call, during which I spoke to two human beings. EBay has real customer support!

I am a human being, and as such I have a right to be treated with a minimum of respect; in return I will give whatever respect is due. I can not respect any entity that wants to punish me for honestly trying to pay a bill! Nor do I appreciate the assumption that I am just another inept, ignorant user “having trouble logging in” when the fact is that the website’s automated rudeness and seemingly purposeful slowness are preventing my login. Moments earlier I had logged into my bank to check my account balance. It was all over in a minute.

My apparent location should have no bearing on my ability to pay my bills online. What if someone is out of town on business or visiting a relative? Should their actual, physical change of location, and therefore change of IP address, make it impossible to pay a bill? Isn’t that one of the things the Internet is for, to make distance irrelevant? AT&T makes no fuss about it when I pay my phone bill; my ID, password, and zip code are good enough. I can get the whole process over with in less time than it takes to suffer ONE bout of your obstructive game-playing.

My use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is not a sign of criminal activity. I maintain several websites, and log into other non-https sites; the VPN makes this much more secure. It is not illegal for an ordinary citizen to take precautions against being hacked. I can see no reason why I should take time to stop the VPN simply because I want to pay a bill in an idle moment between other activities. My time is just as valuable as that of anyone my money goes toward paying (that’s you, Bunky, and you’re not that special). If your system can’t understand who I am unless my identity is tied to an apparent location, there is something wrong with your system.

An IP address is not a personal identifier; it is nothing but a temporary identifier for a device or group of devices that allows communication with other devices. A hacker could, theoretically, use my wifi. Does that make us the same person, one that you would trust because you “know” the location? Even judges have ruled that an IP address is NOT an infallible means of identification of a person. To wit:

“An IP address provides only the location at which one of any number of computer devices may be deployed, much like a telephone number can be used for any number of telephones.”
— Judge Gary Brown, United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York.

If you are truly concerned about security, there are much better ways to ascertain the correct identity of an individual logging in than their IP address. There are also better ways to ensure my legitimacy than to use a CAPTCHA that works so poorly that it never really works! There are certainly better ways to handle regional data — AT&T seems to manage this quite well. Perhaps you should ask them how they manage their database.

No amount of advertising and promotional hype (which I also have to pay for) can cover the fact that Spectrum has become an inhuman monster with no respect or consideration whatsoever for the faceless, dehumanized masses it feeds on.