If you pay your water bill online, you will notice over the next billing period that we have a new online payment system.  Being in IT myself, and having overseen multitudes of online systems in past, I thought that the previous one was a exercise in "how to design the worst possible user interface known to mankind."  Well, this one now ranks as number two.

First of all, you have to register all over again, and you now have a new water account number.  Registration for a new online system is often required, but a new account number too?  Secondly, when you go to save the login page as a favorite (or bookmark) it is saved with the name User Management, SAP AG.  SAP, from Germany, is a global systems supplier of corporate software, and our city is obviously using it for this.  Did nobody have the common sense to give it a user-friendly, Dallas City-based name?!

Once you are in the system, it is a confusing, long horizontal list of things that requires 4 looks to understand. They give you the list option to view the past months or year, but it doesn’t work. You have to look at the bottom for Account History Prior to February xx, 2008 instead. Whereupon they send you to the old system. When you pay by credit card, you have to explicitly check a box to "Do not store payment type information."  Which, I assume, means "no way on earth do I want my credit card data stored in a city computer like this."  Any modern online system does not save credit card information by default — you must opt in, not opt out.

The final thing, and the best reason to ensure you are careful to opt out of that credit card storage, is the confirmation email you get for registering with the new system.  It has this big disclaimer which begins with (bolding is mine): The City of Dallas does not warrant or make representations or endorsements as to the quality, content, accuracy, or completeness of the information, text, graphics, links, and other items contained on this server or any other server. Such materials have been compiled from a variety of sources, and are subject to change without notice from the City of Dallas as a result of updates and corrections.

Enjoy your next transaction with them.