Power struggle over password

Man refuses to change his online password for power company

DANIEL BIRCHFIELD
Last updated 05:00 20/02/2014
mark aronsen
JOHN BISSET/Fairfax NZ

SPARKS FLY: Mark Aronsen is refusing to budge after Contact Energy insisted he change his online password.

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A Timaru man who refuses to change his Contact Energy online password is threatening to pull the plug on the company.

Mark Aronsen, 65, accused the power company of being "mischievous" in its attempts to force him to change his password which allows him to access his online account information. He has refused to change it.

"I rang them up with my meter numbers and there was a demand that I change my password. She launched into it straight away that I needed to change my password for security.

"I said I don't have to change anything and I won't," Mr Aronsen said.

During the conversation with the Contact representative, he was told if he did not change his password he would be unable to pay his account online, which would result in him losing his discount.

Mr Aronsen questioned why he would have to change a password that satisfied him. "I reserve the right to use whatever password I please and I won't be dictated to by a company."

He described the situation as "bizarre" and was further infuriated when Contact asked him several questions to identify himself.

"Who cares who can see my account? You can't withdraw money out of it. Are people going to put money into it? No.

"I've been with Contact for 30 years ... they are just being mischievous. They have my account details and now they're asking me to prove who I am."

Contact Energy's corporate communications manager, Shaun Jones, said Mr Aronsen was one of many customers being asked to update their security details.

"We have elected to introduce stricter controls around online passwords. We have asked some customers to update passwords to help increase their security.

"The passwords have to have at least eight characters, with some letters that are upper-case as well as numbers. That's pretty standard."

He said Contact was one of many companies that used private numbers to contact customers.

"We want to protect our people. We don't want people chasing them around outside work ... we need to protect against it."

Mr Aronsen was already looking at changing power companies.

"If I don't get a response from them and they are still insisting I change my password, I'm gone."

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- The Timaru Herald

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