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videotron’s *online* hour restrictions

Videotron’s *online* account management service is unavailable from midnight to 5am. (Videotron is my ISP and mobile carrier). I thought this was strange, so I sent an email to them asking why. Here is the response:

Thank you for having taken the time to write us.

The on-line services on our web site at Vidé are not available
from midnight to 5:00 a.m. Since the on-line services have a direct link
with our customers’ accounts, this period is essential in allowing us to
update the data and make sure the information is the same in both the
customer accounts and the on-line services.

The on-line services allow you to change some services, as well as see your
billing information, your Internet usage and your services. If there were
no updates, the information would not match with your Vidéotron account
number. Since the dossiers of all our clientele must be updated, the
length of time taken cannot be diminished. During the updates, the
affected services on the site cannot be used.

We hope this information has been helpful. Thank you for your

Lyne Gagné
Vidéotron administrative services
Our web site: < >

Montreal: (514) 281-1711
Quebec: (418) 847-4410
Chicoutimi: (418) 545-1114
Outaouais: (819) 771-7715
Elsewhere in North America: 1-877-380-2511 (toll free)

Does this make sense to anyone?

I replied:

that is the strangest online customer service policy I have ever heard. are you aware of any other major company in the world with a similar policy for online accounts? i am not. In all my experience with banks, telcos, credit cards, financial services etc etc. I have never seen such a policy.

it’s very … strange … and annoying.


  1. zura zura 2007-11-08

    Isn’t the whole point of having something online to BE accesssible 24/7? That is ridiculous.

  2. zura zura 2007-11-08

    Isn’t the whole point of having something online to BE accessible 24/7? That is ridiculous.

  3. jeremy clare jeremy clare 2007-11-08

    Sounds like hella lazy programming to my ears. They have to bring the entire system offline for 5 hours while they run their update code? That’s so stupid it hurts. IF it really takes a long time to update the web database with data from the service’s database (which could be complicated and take a few minutes), then each persons account should be unnavailable for a random five minutes at some point during the day. Otherwise, they should do blocks throughout the day where certain users can’t access their accounts. Doing it all in one go during night is crazy, someone should be fired.


  4. Hugh Hugh 2007-11-08


  5. Dan Parsons Dan Parsons 2007-11-08

    Um, why not update the info in real time? Like, when Hugh changes his address, it goes into their db immediately? Is there something wrong with that? :)

  6. Boris Anthony Boris Anthony 2007-11-08

    not lazy programming (programmers in such organizations just do what they are told), but rather bad planning and architecture, possibly caused by budgetary restrictions, bureaucracy, maybe even security fears and FUD.

    Basically, they built their system in such a way that the info on the website is decoupled from the main database, i.e.: data duplication. always a bad idea. Who ever spec’ed this out thought “hey, no one expects service at night, we cna use that window to synchronize databases!” Synchronization is also always a bad idea.
    (So Jer your solution doesn’t really solve anything, it just moves execution time around a bit, and that is not as trivial as you may think.)

    Heh, I just saved a major news gathering corporation from making that very mistake…

  7. Hugh Hugh 2007-11-08

    dan, you’re such a dreamer. show me one online account management system that works that way! if it was that easy everyone would do it like that.

  8. julien julien 2007-11-08

    yeah, it just isn’t that easy man. banks shut down after like 6 hours of open time FOR A REASON, MAN.

  9. Hugh Hugh 2007-11-08

    ok not sure who is being ironic/sarcastic and who isn’t … but for the record:
    “dan, you’re such a dreamer. show me one online account management system that works that way! if it was that easy everyone would do it like that.”

    …was snotty sarcasm, because i have never heard of any other company with online account management where they have to go offline for 5 hours everyday to replicate data (as boris explains above). it is crazy, and videotron is crazy. and while banks shut down, their online services are 24h, that’s the whole point. banks shut down because paying people to stay in a building is expensive.

    and just further, if it’s REALLY necessary to shut down changes to my account for 5 hours every day, at least let me see a static/non-changeable version of my account. I wanted to see what long-d plan i have on my mobile, to check how much calling home would cost. and I could not see that. it’s nuts.

  10. Boris Anthony Boris Anthony 2007-11-08

    I think Julien was being sarcastic too. ;)

    but yeah, you’ll find this kind of weird experience with any old/legacy institutions/organizations who made some wrong decisions on how to get online, and their clients suffer for it. Banks are just now slowly getting slightly less bad. I remember yelling at BMO back in ’97… “C’mon you fuckers! What is IBM selling you Jesus H!?”

    Anyways, flipping out won’t help. They prolly know… and you know what happens to big megalithic (neolithic?) organisms that cannot adapt, right?

  11. jeremy clare jeremy clare 2007-11-08

    excellent point hugh, regardless of whether they MUST replicate data (in which my solution would help a lot in terms of making it sane) or could avoid it (very likely if they weren’t being noobs, as boris points out), having a static version that says “accurate up to 24 hours” should be well within their abilities.

    I didn’t know that they did cellphones, do you find the service good (other than this?). It should be noted that while fido doesn’t have this particular problem, their website is horrendous, and so hard to use that the effect is you pretty much never get the information you want.

  12. Hugh Hugh 2007-11-08

    thinking about it more, i guess their account management system is tacked onto their old system for cable (predating massive web useage… ie 10 yrs old!) … ISP service is newer, wireless newest. still. come on.

    re: wireless phones, yes been happy with them. i believe they just repackage rogers’ system.

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