It’s been a while since I went through the signup rigamarole associated with a new internet account. It’s been full of stupid stuff as long as I can remember, but this one had some real gems.

The installer was nice enough, but he obviously wasn’t prepared to deal with anything out of his expected work flow. To start with, he asked if I had a laptop ready. Sure. Then he wanted to use it. Nope. I have a good excuse anyway: “You won’t be able to type on it.” (he gave me a blank stare) “Do you know Dvorak?” (blink) “I’m a tech guy, just tell me what to do” (oh, uh, okay).

We plugged my laptop into the cable modem and he had me load a browser to go through the account setup process. First step: accept the EULA and privacy agreement. He gave me a look of incomprehension when I told him that I would actually be reading them in their entirety (which, by the way, the page tries to force you to do by making you open them before allowing you to accept. The installation tech advised me to “just click close, it’s right over there”).

I advised him that I would do it later so he didn’t have to wait on me, but he was concerned I wouldn’t be able to set up my wifi, so I load up the router page. The password is “password”, like he needed to tell me…

After typing the password, the page hung. I tried again, no luck. I tried in Firefox, and got about the same thing, but left it going while I did some other stuff, and it eventually worked. The interface was taking 40+ seconds for (presumably the cable modem, at, connected directly to my laptop via ethernet) to respond to AJAX requests, and so clicking through the two pages to where I enter an SSID took 5-10 minutes’ worth of waiting. This does not bode well…

Back to the EULA for a bit. I’m glad I read it, because there are no fewer than 5 places where you must “contact us” to opt out of marketing mail, including one that states “We may call or text you or authorize others to call or text you on our behalf using any number you provide to us (or that we issue to you) for any purpose, including marketing of our Services. This is true even if your numbers are included on state or federal ‘do not call’ lists.”

There’s also a section where you can “opt out” of reduced legal rights, including a foreshortening of the statute of limitations to 30 days, and an arbitration clause.

EULAs, sheesh. I’m not sure half of this stuff is even legally binding, but it’s much easier to go through the opt-out process than deal with trying to make Time Warner not be an asshole.

There were some humorous bits, too. In two places, the EULA explicitly addressed urban legends: “You cannot settle the amounts you owe us by writing ‘paid in full’ or any other message on your bill or check.” Ha.

Section 2, “Your responsibilities regarding equipment” contains what you would expect… but 2a contains this little gem: “You will allow us to enter your premises to install, maintain or replace Equipment and to make sure our services are operating and being delivered properly to you and your neighbors.” Fair enough… “If you stop receiving Services from us, you may terminate these rights by giving us one year’s advance notice.” Wat??

I can only conclude that this is mainly for things like apartment complexes, but it’s still baffling.

Okay. I’ve read the EULA, am basically okay with it except the part where I have to call them to find out how much money I’m “on the hook” for if someone steals my cable modem. I proceed to creating my account.

Enter e-mail. I give it my typical forwarding address, based on the website’s name, but then remember that I’d already given them a different address (“timewarner@”). I go back a page to edit it, and the editbox is disabled. Who in their right mind tries to prevent you from supplying a valid e-mail address? A quick trip to the Chrome inspector has the value changed, but I don’t know if that will wind up working.

This brings me to possibly the biggest WTF moment so far: the password screen. I am presented with your typical username/password/confirm trio, with one notable exception: The password input boxes are plain edit boxes. They don’t mask your password. That doesn’t particularly bother me, but did whoever put this thing together not understand the purpose of password confirmation? At least there wasn’t a CAPTCHA — a much more frequent victim of implementation without understanding.

Forms complete, I am presented with one final page: A download suggestion for installing the Time Warner toolbar. TOOLBARS, WOOHOO! It wasn’t even in an installer, but it still tried to make it look like it was good for something other than collecting your browsing data for marketing purposes.

I give the Time Warner Cable installation process a 4/10. It could have been worse, but at least everything worked. Eventually.

One last bit before I go. Before the tech went, he says, ‘Just let me get your signature on the work order.’ Sure, I say, wondering where the work order is. He fidgets with his phone for a bit and presents me with a blank screen and tells me to sign it. Not only does it not contain any information about what I’m signing for, but he wants me to provide him with an exact digital replication of my signature? Hell no. I tell him as much, and he obviously has no idea what to think of me. He mumbles something about emailing me instead and leaves.

I understand where they’re coming from from a convenience standpoint, but what’s the point of a signature for validation if it can just be printed out? At least copies and forgeries have degradation and variation. Whatever. I’ve got my internet, at least, and it’s sufficiently fast. Here’s hoping it stays that way.

Post filed under Musings.

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