World Online leaves Internet customers in the lurch

The ISP gives customers less than a month to find a new telephone service
Written by Wendy McAuliffe, Contributor

Dutch ISP World Online has withdrawn its fixed line telephony service from consumers, leaving thousands of Internet users with less than a month to find a new telephone service.

Customers who were subscribing to the World Online joint Internet and phone package have to chose between transferring to rival telephone operator Servista.com, switching back to BT, or finding a new telephone company. The 63,000 consumers affected will be forced to make their decision by 12 July.

The decision follows World Online's recent take-over by Italian ISP Tiscali. "In the process of integrating LineOne, World Online and LibertySurf, there will be an inevitable impact on the service that can be provided to customers," said a Tiscali spokeswoman. "It is regretful to have to migrate customers from one brand to another."

The pricing structure for the Tiscali Internet service is yet to be announced, but the Tiscali spokesperson claimed that prices would be competitive. But telephone calls through the alternative telco Servista.com will be more expensive.

A significant proportion of World Online's customers have already agreed to return to BT, but the British telco is still in negotiation with Tiscali and the telecom regulator Oftel over the terms of the agreement. "Whilst we would be happy to take any of our old customers back, we are not able to approach or cold call them," said a BT spokesman. "We've been keeping Oftel fully informed, as we don't want to be accused of poaching customers," he added.

BT has set up an 0800 helpline specifically for troubled World Online customers, and has also stated that there will be no reconnection charge for those who choose to return to the BT network.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the Telecoms forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.

Editorial standards