BTopenworld attacked for terminating Anytime accounts

BT cuts off customers who it has accused of leaving their connections "unattended" for long periods of time

BTopenworld has come under fire for the second time this month, for terminating the Internet accounts of 200 customers deemed to be leaving their connections "unattended".

Customers of the BTinternet Anytime service were booted off the service permanently on Thursday, for allegedly abusing the terms and conditions of their 24/7 unmetered package. But many affected customers are angered by the "misleading" advertising slogan that states, "surf whenever you like, as often as you like with no Internet call charges", and are threatening to take legal action against BT.

The terms and conditions of the Anytime service warn, "if you are a user of a flat rate service (as opposed to pay as you go), you should be aware that while this service is intended to provide you with 24 hour Internet access availability, it is not intended to be an "always on" service during unmetered access periods."

BTopenworld alerted 400 customers to the situation by email four weeks ago, by reminding them that they should not be leaving their Internet connection unattended. This was followed up with a second email where customers had taken no action, and 200 customers received a final letter this week informing them that their accounts would be terminated on 27 September.

"We have to monitor the network usage to make sure that that it is managed efficiently," said a spokesman at BTopenworld. "We therefore build up a picture of customer usage...looking at the number of hours where is the service is logged on for."

But this "picture of customer usage" obtained by BT does not offer a detailed breakdown of customer usage, and cannot identify when a connection has been left "unattended". BTopenworld instead targeted customers who appeared to be using the service for more than 16 hours a day.

One ZDNet reader is adamant that he has only been using his account for five or six hours a day -- well within the BTinternet Anytime terms and conditions. "We are aware that in some cases, there may be a small number of people who have had their account details compromised, where others are using their accounts to log on," said the BTopenworld spokesman.

Last week BT was accused of forcing 43,000 BTinternet Anytime customers off the unmetered service for apparently clogging up the network. Those affected have been reclassified by BT, and forced to use a new dial-up connection that is significantly less reliable. BTopenworld is adamant that the two issues are completely separate.

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