Confusion as Biscit withdraws from ISP association

Biscit customers are no longer protected by industry code of practice, as new registrations cease and accusations fly over last year's acquisition of V21

UK internet service provider Biscit has withdrawn from the Internet Service Providers' Association and is not taking on any new customers.

According to an Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) spokesperson, Biscit "resigned [its] membership" last Tuesday (20 February) for no stated reason. The spokesperson pointed out that this meant Biscit's customers are no longer covered by the industry code of practice or complaints procedures. It also means that Biscit no longer has free membership of CISAS, which disgruntled customers can call upon if they have a dispute with a company that is a member of CISAS.

"We always tell people to choose an ISPA member," the ISPA spokesperson added. Over 100 companies are currently members of ISPA, including many UK ISPs. Only weeks ago, Biscit had been a finalist in four categories at the annual ISPA awards — best consumer ISP, best business email, best consumer email and best dial-up — but went home empty handed.

A call to Biscit's sales line on Monday also revealed that the ISP is not taking on any new broadband customers. A sales representative said that the company's "ordering broadband system" was down, and had been out of action for the last 10 days. He was unable to suggest when it might be possible to sign up.

Biscit hit the headlines last year when it sued the wholesale internet provider NetServices in a dispute over another ISP, V21, which Biscit had recently bought but which subsequently had its connectivity cut off by NetServices (see here for details).

The judge sided with Biscit, but that victory was soon followed by overcharged Biscit customers complaining about bouncing cheques. Biscit chief executive Hugh Paterson claimed the cheques had bounced following an administrative error, but it emerged last week that he has resigned as a Biscit director.

Speaking with ZDNet UK on Friday, Paterson insisted that, despite the fact he was no longer chief executive, he still had "a mandate from shareholders to develop the forward roadmap" for Biscit, which he said lay in value-adding "applications for broadband".

"Our bundles are recognised as the most innovative in the industry in the last 12 months," said Paterson, describing Biscit's services as "only the start of the next generation of the broadband revolution".

However, it also appears that Biscit is engaged in a legal dispute with the ex-directors of V21, some of whom have said on an ISP Review forum that they regret selling the ISP to Biscit. Sources close to the dispute told ZDNet UK on Monday that, following Biscit's acquisition of V21 in October last year, "there has never been a payment made to any of the directors of that company".

On Friday, ex-V21 managing director Steve Kaye wrote on the ISP Review forum that: "I feel so sorry for the ex-customers of mine and will make a promise. I will finish my little legal battle with the inept new owners and then I will tell publicly everyone what sort of people they are!"

Despite repeated attempts, ZDNet UK was unable to reach Biscit on Monday for comment on these latest developments.

With thanks to ZDNet UK member dercoss for alerting us to latest developments.

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