Lee Odden

Incompetence by Design

Lee Odden     Online Marketing, Rant

Watch out, cat post coming!

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.

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. You could relate it to SEO by using the company name in the title. I’m sure they will notice it when it shows up in G, but I doubt a company like that monitors the blogosphere, let alone even knows what it is.

  2. Nice analogy. I hate it when I visit a website that’s hard to navigate, and I hare it when a big company who claims to have great customer service, hires nim-wits to handle their customer service. You know how you sometimes get that message, “This conversation may be recorded for quality assurance?” Sometimes I wonder if they ever actually review these calls…..

  3. Change the company’s name to PayPal and end it with ‘they kept my money and closed my account’, and you’ve got my story…

    Ugh, companies that are uber secure often fail with no real way to supersede the idiocy. /rant off 😉

  4. I guess I should count myself lucky with the sheer volume of online transactions I am involved with from a business perspective besides personal. When it happens it’s still annoying though.

  5. I just started working with Frontier handling thier internet business. You will be happy to know I have been hired to make sure this never happens again to anyone. Please be patient as we improve our service and please do not change providers.