PlusNet accuses broadband rivals of misleading customers

PlusNet accuses broadband rivals of misleading customers

Summary: Following the sudden departure of several top management figures and a major restructuring of its customer services, PlusNet claims to have risen above other ISPs who are 'mis-selling' broadband services

TOPICS: Networking

... PlusNet has also embarked on a major "re-organisation" of its management structure following a series of misfortunes.

"We haven't been meeting the expectations our customers have of us, and in many cases we are still not doing so," said a message posted by customer communications manager Ian Wild onto the PlusNet User Group forum on Thursday.

Wild described the "far reaching structural and management restructure" as being "of a magnitude that has not been seen for many years at PlusNet".

The company has blamed much of its misfortune on the "culture change" brought about by the restructuring of its customer support division. One of the most prominent figures to depart has been John Pickerskill, PlusNet's head of customer service and networks. Chief operating officer Danny Sullivan has also left the company.

"Everybody else seems to operate on the basis of systematic call centres and support centres, not the quality of the support," said Potesta. "Our Web site suffered as well because it became more of a transaction engine [than a personalised customer services interface]. If we don't have the customer at the centre of what we do then what kind of business are we?"

The ISP recently suffered the permanent loss of 700GB of its customers' emails, when an engineer accidentally erased the contents of one of their servers. It then emerged that crucial data relating to some customers' Web sites was also lost in the accident. The ISP was further hit by a power outage at co-location facility Telehouse two weeks ago, which also took down ClaraNet and other ISPs.

"In terms of what we've done to mitigate any future occurrence, we've definitely changed our internal processes to make sure human error is far less likely," Potesta told ZDNet UK on Thursday. "There are definitely more eyeballs on the same processes — we've gone very robust as a response".

PlusNet's share price has also taken a battering — losing about three-quarters of its value — since Carphone Warehouse initiated the so-called "free broadband" wars that have seen companies such as Orange and BSkyB weighing in with similar offers. The "free" packages all depend on the customer buying another of the company's products, leading to some scepticism over the term.

Potesta told ZDNet UK that the "myth of free broadband" was beginning to "explode", saying customers "feel cheated by that kind of positioning".

"One thing that these guys all have in common is their complete inability in being able to manage a network, which is something that we are totally transparent on and also do totally effectively," he claimed.

Topic: Networking

David Meyer

About David Meyer

David Meyer is a freelance technology journalist. He fell into journalism when he realised his musical career wouldn't pay the bills. David's main focus is on communications, as well as internet technologies, regulation and mobile devices.

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  • Attack is obviously the only defence left to PlusNet. And it clearly matters little to Marco Potesta that thousands of his customers know that his claims of honesty, integrity and customer care are pure fiction.

    The PlusNet forums (PUG Usergroup forum, ADSL Guide PlusNet forum and their own portal forum) are literally awash with customer complaints. At a rough guess, half of them are complaining that it has for weeks been impossible to contact a PlusNet support agent either by phone or via their ticket system; a quarter are complaining about unusable connections (mostly LLU but also IPStream) - some of them having been without connectivty for 7 weeks; and the remainder are complaining that PlusNet are obstructing them from leaving and/or profiteering from their departure.

    And by the way, PlusNet have also misdescribed their products for years - and continue to do so - so that customers only discover the awful truth once they are under contract.

    A number of PlusNet customers have only got satisfaction by threatening court action and at least one court judgment against PlusNet is currently being appealed by the company. Ofcom has a huge file of complaints from PlusNet customers, as do Sheffield Trading Standards.

    When PlusNet eventually do the right thing with their marketing director, I assume that no other ISP would be daft enough to take him on. His comments in this article have achieved the near impossible -- making PlusNet's already dire situation an order of magnitude worse.
  • I have been using Free-online (plus*net) for 6 years and their ADSL service since they launched it. I have recommended their service in terms of price and quality to many friends for years, who have been equally been impressed UNTIL about 9 months ago. Now the quality of the product has gone into free fall (only today I had no service from midnight until 2:00 pm today) and as for the customer service - what a joke. In May it took 4 weeks to get a relatives ADSL restored due to an issue with the service! The last problem ticket I raised was closed automatically after 2 weeks because it had not been update (BY PLUS*NET!!!!). They ignore the tickets and then close them due to inactivity when I am waiting on them for a response. At the same time they sent me an email stating they had improved customer service and had only 100 (ish) tickets to answer...yeah right.
  • So,
  • The best company i ever used was Central Point, 1 MB uncapped, unrestricted, they connected you and provided you did not break the law and paid your bill they did not care.

    The perfect company. the sold to Fast 24 and after their sockingly poor and ignorant cusomter service i got it sorted and all things seem fine now!

    Move to Talk 101 they seem to be doing one hell of an amazing job!
  • Whilst not experiencing any major outages, since PlusNet converted me to LLU and (supposedly) increased my speed to 8Mb I've had no end of problems. Ther service is now so inconsistent and I experience regular daily drop-outs of connection. Like the other commenter they have not indicated any possibility of transferring me back off LLU despite this obviously being the problem, and you only need to check their support/incident feed to see that they are experiencing major difficulties of late.

    No wonder they had to restructure their customer support!
  • PlusNet were a fantastic company when I joined two years ago. I was a modest user so unlimited/fair usage was not an issue. However many problems occured, most did not bother me. However I left, not to a cheaper/free ISP, but paying 20%/month more. I now have a reliable connection & good customer service ISP. Speeds vary but that is a function of BT. Prior to PlusNet I was with Tiscali, seemingly part of PlusNet's problem. I think that the up to 8Mb connection is a farce and is causing most ISPs problems. Roll on SKY, for me always dpendent, still 12 months away though.
  • Just to note that I think there needs to be clarification here: "A number of PlusNet's customers had reported problems in the migration, and the company refunded those who had experienced more than seven days of downtime."

    While I can't say that what I have experienced applies to other customers, I lost my broadband service when migrated to the Tiscali LLU over a month ago, and have been told that I will not receive any refund until the fault is fixed, and if I leave I will receive no refund at all. They have also refused to migrate me back from LLU. They are still taking my money and have also said they will still hold me to their notice period - ie will only schedule a cancellation if I pay a further month's fee in advance, despite not having a working service.
  • I was a Plusnet customer who migrated to them inthe days when he then new, migrations cost over
  • It appears that ISPs are taking advantage of customers lack of knowledge around their rights (ignorance of law). If you sign a contract and the ISP fails to connect you within a reasonable length of time (around 5 to 7 days), you have the right to annul the contract and have all your money returned. If you wish to migrate to another ISP rather than wait months, at your cost, simply quote the "Sale of Goods and Services Acts". This usually gets them to connect you quickly or allow you to go elsewhere and give you a refund. You can also threaten to sue them in the County Courts for "Breach of Contract as well as a breach of the "Sale of Goods and Services Acts. In the courts, you will be able to make a claim for compensation for the loss of the expected service, the inconvenience and any distress caused, as well as your legal costs. Mention this to the Customer Services Manager and you will see prompt action. It's also worth logging a complaint with OfCom as they collect data on all ISPs and any getting too many complaints will be acted upon.
  • Plusnet USED to be good, ie the first ISP to release [a business] 2meg before anyone else.
    The 'Fair Use Policy' now is just a joke, Bulldog beat the others hands down - it's a pity that they may sell their customer base.
    Plusnet are NOT the ISP that they once were, I'm glad to go and I'm seriously going elsewhere - probably Bulldog.
  • This is a definite case of the pot calling the kettle black. What utter hypocrisy! I migrated from PlusNet as they were responsible for exactly the kind of unscrupulous misselling and business practises of which they are accusing others.
  • TISCALI THROTTLE One of the worst Decicions I have EVER made was to sign up for TISCALI THROTTLE THROTTLE THROTTLE
    6 Months of Excuses for Downtimes and Reconecting Mysteriusly ONLY After I complain.
    Advice Don't Trust them with the Following
    Reason They will Try to withdraw cash Even if They Havent Provided Service.

    By Service I mean 24 hr Connection and the Ability to
    login download Etc Without Cut off.

    2.Take note of Excuses for Crap Service Note all cutoff Error Numbers at the time dont accept repeated Excuses after doing their fix once.

    3. Tell them you will charge them for downtime we
    recomend estimate of