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BT free ISP customers find sting in the tail

Software fails to prompt users to hang up call

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Telecoms industry watchdog Oftel is snapping at BT's heels in a bid to get the telecoms giant to fix teething troubles with ClickFree, its new subscription-free Internet access service. A report in today's Daily Telegraph revealed that a software glitch in BT ClickFree could be responsible for users running up enormous phone bills simply because they would be unaware that they were still logged on to the Net. But a spokesman for BT Internet and Multimedia denied that it is a problem. "The story has been blown out of all proportion," he said. "The first we heard of it was when the Telegraph ran the story. No one has reported the problem to our helpdesk -- although we recognise it could potentially be an issue." He claimed that it would be technically quite difficult to get a warning box to come up every time a user logs off. Yet a spokesman for independent service provider Claranet said that most -- if not all -- ISPs provided such a facility. "It sounds a pretty easy thing to do -- especially with BT's resources," he said. And James Cronin, a director at Virgin Net -- which has just announced its plans to provide a subscription free Net access service -- also took a sideswipe at BT, although he conceded that the oversight was probably not malicious. "They [BT] have simply gone for a lightweight service which is easy to download, but it's still a little bit irresponsible," said Cronin. "This is not a nice thing to do to new users," he said. ®

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