Internet monkey

Not some kind of Flash animation, unfortunately, merely a rant against the incompetence of my ISP.

I found out on Sunday that they haven’t charged me for Internet access for over three years.

I didn’t, as one might have expected, find this out through receiving my monthly bills for three years: they state the monthly amount owed rather than the cumulative total, and say at the bottom “if you’re paying by direct debit this is for your information only”.

Nor did I find this out by receiving a phone call or a letter saying “you owe us an enormous amount of money and we’ll take you to court if you don’t pay”.

I found this out because they cut off my Internet access, rang up to ask why I couldn’t access the Internet, and was told that I owed them £650.

Now, assuming the billing department actually gets around to restoring my connection by the time I get home today, I won’t have lost out too much. I’m fortunately (well, *was* fortunately) reasonably cashed-up this month, managed to argue the amount owed down to £500 as compensation for their utter uselessness, and paid the lot over the phone.

However, I’d have been very displeased, not to mention living off beans for several months, had this happened while I was poor.

What kind of accounts department doesn’t chase unpaid bills until *three years* after they’re rung up? Also, what’s a good ADSL ISP to switch to?

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2 thoughts on “Internet monkey

  1. I cannot sympathise enough – precisely the same thing happened to me a few years ago, when I was mysteriously cut off with no warning. It turned out that the ISP in question had been bought up by another company, which for reasons known only to themselves (a) stopped collecting my monthly subscription by direct debit and (b) sent invoices to a long-defunct (indeed, demolished) office address, so of course I never saw them.

    The monthly sums were piddling enough for me not to notice that they were never debited (in any case, I had subscriptions to three ISPs at the time, so my statements were showing plenty of ISP-related standing order activity), so it was only when I was cut off that I realised what had been going on.

    It got worse – although I paid the outstanding balance immediately, they took six weeks and umpteen phone calls to reconnect me. As a result, I refused to pay for the six-week period of inactivity (not least because it was their own incompetence that had led to the disconnection in the first place), which led to an epic stalemate that was only resolved six months later with a suitably grovelling apology from them. I accepted it, on the understanding that if they screwed up again, I’d close the account immediately… and was forced to carry out my threat about three or four months later.

    By contrast, my other two ISPs have been immaculately behaved. Mind you, so was this one until they got taken over, so there’s no way of knowing in advance! (Just to answer your last question, for ADSL purposes I use Demon – but largely because they’re Mac-friendly, not because they have a particularly outstanding reputation, though in all fairness I should say I’ve never had any problems with them).

  2. That’s pretty piss-poor. I don’t know personally who’s good in the DSL field (I’m not a DSL customer), but I’ve had good recommendations for (in alphabetical order) Andrews and Arnold, IDNet, Mailbox, and Zen Internet.

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