Failed Internet service provider RedHotAnt has said it will provide refunds to as many of its subscribers as possible, many of whom paid £120 only days before the company shut down its service.
The ISP has been the target of more than the usual acrimony following its demise. Kent County Council Trading Standards officials last week raided the company's offices after taking more than 80 complaints from consumers, in an attempt to determine RedHotAnt's financial status.
The group shut down its unmetered service last Tuesday after its funds ran dry, and at the time claimed it couldn't afford to offer refunds. Since then it has begun accepting applications for refunds from customers who signed up during December or later, but is making no guarantees.
Kent officials obtained a warrant to search RedHotAnt's offices last week and police officers raided the property Friday, removing files and computer equipment related to the company's business affairs.
RedHotAnt managing director Kevin Wall said he is hopeful the situation will be resolved to the benefit of customers. "We feel confident that the authorities will find that we have acted and will continue to act in a moral fashion towards our subscribers in either un-suspending the unmetered service or providing a refund package," he said in a statement on the company's Web site.
If the ISP does refund subscription fees, it could set a precedent for other companies in a similar situation. A number of ISPs began offering flatrate services last year in expectation that a flatrate, wholesale package would soon be on offer from British Telecommunications (quote: BT), but in the meantime were forced to pay per-minute wholesale fees.
Friaco failed to materialise as quickly as ISPs expected, and the companies were also starved of new investment by souring investor sentiment towards the Internet sector, leading to the demise of companies such as Breathe.com and IG Click. However, none have so far offered refunds.
RedHotAnt customer refund applications can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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